Emotional Pain

Emotional pain hurts. Recovery from that pain grows you and teaches you more than almost anything.

When my first serious girlfriend broke my heart, it hurt like nothing else I’d ever experienced. But over the ensuing months, and it took about 6 months, I learned so much. I learned about what kind of person I was and wasn’t in relation to girls. I came to understand emotional vulnerability that I never knew existed. I strengthened my emotional system so that I would be more prepared when my heart would go out to someone else later on.

Emotional suffering offers a unique chance to grow and learn, not through the pain but in recovery. You learn about your values and priorities, about behavior that works or doesn’t, and the landscape of your own feelings. You acquire wisdom. This is precious, even if uncomfortable.

If, however, you block yourself from the capacity to be hurt, by building a shell of emotional invulnerability, you lose that opportunity. It is altogether normal at a time of emotional pain to imagine protecting yourself from that ever happening again, but that would be a fool’s errand. People engage the world primarily through emotions. To limit feelings, even in the interests of avoiding suffering, costs much more than it yields.

The smartest strategy is to lean into emotional pain as much as you are able. Let it hurt. Open yourself to its lessons. Honor the feelings. Let the recovery from loss and sadness grow your human soul.

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