Emotional pain does “hurt.”
There is a difference between pain and suffering, and sometimes the individual causes more pain than the original pain caused. Emotional pain does take a toll because it activates the same areas of the brain as physical pain. This brain function shows the reality of emotional pain. This makes evolutionary sense because physical pain emerged first, so emotions evolved in parallel to use only the same brain circuits.
Body pain is a biological signal that something is damaging our physical health and the integrity of our physical selves. The physical pain is real. It triggers neural pain circuits as well as physiological responses and behaviors. Avoiding something hot or perceived as dangerous are examples of objective behavioral responses. Likewise, emotional pain is a sign that our emotional health is compromised. How people feel about it after it happens is where the pain comes from. Interestingly, withdrawal is also an emotional response to emotional pain.
Emotional pain is a subjective experience.
Everyone’s definition of pain is different, but they all include the subjective feeling of pain or discomfort. People suffer from colds, illnesses, breakups, and all kinds of difficulties. But pain is different, it is separate from difficulty. It is a secondary symptom of the initial discomfort and is a result of how discomfort is perceived . Strenuous exercise may cause muscle pain that people may feel better about . The breakdown of a relationship may bring relief that something very challenging is over. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any discomforts or challenges. The emotional pain is real, but it's not the same as the pain that comes with it.
Imagine being forced to do manual labor for 6 hours a day against your will for four years. Most people experience this difficulty. Now imagine that you are an Olympic athlete who loves working out even when the training is difficult and is excited by the challenge and the goal of winning a medal . what is the difference? Perception.
Emotional pain happens. Then the story is created.
Emotional pain is the experience of feeling some kind of threat or damage to our emotional self, our "consciousness" and our psychological self. But, like physical pain, we want to understand it because we want the pain to go away.
This is where the pain begins. We created a story about the meaning of emotional pain. This story is inherently subjective. This story could easily be based on misunderstanding or misinformation. Suppose Chris insults Pat. Pat can make up a story to explain why this happened and create "meaning" for the event. For example, "Chris insulted me because I was stupid and I was different." The story now became a source of pain for Pat.
Don't add insult to injury. Don’t add emotional pain to emotional pain.
The above insults do not create a real sense of pain. Only the perception and meaning we give it can do that. Unless you're dealing with a supervillain, the sound waves from your words don't actually cause pain! Brain scans will show the degree of activation of a person's pain circuitry, which is considered painful . Please note the word "perception".
Let's say Jan stubbed their toe. It hurts a little. Jane almost fell. But they didn’t make up any stories about it. Maybe the fear of falling scares them. They had a fleeting thought of "watch my step" and maybe they cursed the uneven sidewalk. Then they forget. They have some pain , but no pain . There is no story. People can make up a story that they are clumsy and need to be more careful and pay more attention. Why doesn’t “someone” fix the sidewalk? And frustrated with people's lack of care. This subjective thinking, this story-making, only adds pain to the experience.
Emotional pain occurs. Emotional pain doesn’t have to be like this.
How many times have we had our emotional toes pricked and then made up a story to make sense of it and add pain to the pain ? We perceive emotional pain subjectively, unlike physical pain, because there are no emotional pain nerve receptors. In our previous example, Pat could easily make up the story about Chris being rude, forget the insult, and experience no pain. One of Chris' close friends might say, "Gee! What's going on with your tantrum?" because they just made up a different story (that something was wrong with Chris). Again, there is no pain because the events are viewed differently.
More differentiation, less emotional pain, less emotional pain
A more differentiated aspect is the ability to recognize and differentiate between subjective and objective thinking. Stories are based on facts. Objective thinking is reporting on what has been observed. For example, "Chris moved his lips into an arc" is an objective observation of a smile. Therefore, coworker Pat subjectively interprets Chris's facial expression as a "smile." We experience subjective thinking as “stories” with judgments, interpretations, and misallocations. In this example, Pat's story might be "Chris was laughing at my mistake. I'm such an idiot." It's a story, an interpretation, a judgment. But is there objective truth to this story? Pat and Chris must discuss to find the answer. But the better Pat can distinguish his subjective thoughts from his objective observations, the less likely they are to add insult to injury.
I know a man in his seventies who often suffers from headaches. They live life to the fullest and ignore the headaches. A headache is a constant pain, but they choose to relieve it.
Fact and fiction. Differentiation of the brain.
There are no perfect parents, partners, or children. There is no perfect family. event occurs. What stories did you make up, did you make up stories about your family? How objective are these stories? Trying to distinguish the facts of an event from the story about the event from the meaning created (feelings, judgments, interpretations) trains the brain to become more differentiated. (This is one of the values of getting a family history from multiple people. It can help separate fact from fiction.) Therefore, a more distinctive person will strive to understand the role they played in any situation. They learn from it. This way they can learn how to avoid similar situations from happening again. This does not eliminate regrets about the past or anxiety about the future. However, they do not need to suffer through subjective stories that involve interpretation, judgment, and blame.
Choose to reduce emotional pain.
event occurs. We create stories. When emotional pain occurs, we develop feelings, judgments, and interpretations. Try to separate objective facts from subjective opinions and stories. This can help people understand the difference between emotional pain and emotional pain. And work to reduce emotional pain. This is the benefit of striving to become more differentiated in your thinking.