Emotional Pain: An Opportunity to Grow
Emotional Pain: An Opportunity to
By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.
As the function of the physician is to reduce physical pain,
the function of the mental health professional is to reduce emotional pain.
And as physical pain can serve a useful purpose in signaling
that something is wrong with the body end should be treated, so emotional pain
can serve a useful purpose by providing she who suffers with the opportunity
to grow psychologically and spiritually.
The fourteenth century Dominican monk, Henry Suso, put it
this way: There is no quest without pain.
Emotional pain is that which motivates us to make a change
in our lives. It compels us to find better ways to act when our usual ways of
cooing no longer work.
Pain is also that which accompanies such a change since
learning to do things differently, while possibly exciting, can also be difficult
and anxiety-producing. The old ways of living die hard, under the spur of emotional
pain, while news ways of behaving do not always develop so easily.
People who seep the services of a mental health professional
usually do so because they are in a great deal of emotional pain.
And that is good, harsh as that may sound for me to say.
Whenever I consult with someone who is really upset, I feel
the chances of resolving the problems which cause her pain are much better than
if she were not so uncomfortable. The emotional discomfort of a mental health
client, rather than something to rue, is a good prognostic sign that she is
ready to make some constructive changes in her life.
But what I regret is when people, because of fear or embarrassment,
wait until the last possible moment, often when it is either very difficult
or too late to make positive changes, to seek mental health consultation.
Let me cite some specific examples to illustrate my points.
The misbehavior of a child can be a signal to his parents
that something is wrong in their relationship, with him. Their discomfort can
motivate them to find out what is wrong, but if they wait until their child
is much older and so capable of more serious misbehavior, it mad be too late
to do anything about it. Anger in a marriage may mean a spouse's emotional needs
are not being met. The pain of that anger may spur two people to work out their
differences for their mutual benefit, but if their pain is too great or too
prolonged, they may never be able to overcome it in an act of reconciliation.
A wife may find it difficult to adjust to a divorce, especially
if she had always been dependent on her husband, but she may emerge from her
suffering as an independent, more assertive and more attractive woman.
The agony of depression proclaims that something may be
missing in a man's life and may force him to re-examine his needs, values and
goals in a search for relief.
The pain of alienation and meaninglessness may start a person
on a spiritual journey that can result in a closer relationship to God.
Suffering, wrote Ludwig von Beethoven, is God's greatest
gift to man. Perhaps what he meant is that emotional pain can make us stronger,
healthier, wiser and more compassionate individuals.
About the Author: J. Bailey Molineux, a psychologist with
Adult and Child Counseling, has incorporated many of his articles in a book,
Loving Isn't Easy, Isbn 1587410419, sold through bookstores everywhere or available
directly from Selfhelpbooks.com. Copyright 2002, J. Bailey Molineux and Selfhelpbooks.com,
all rights reserved. This article may be reprinted but must include authors
copyright and website hyperlinks.