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Emotional Pain: An Opportunity to Grow

Emotional Pain: An Opportunity to Grow

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.

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