Dealing with Heartache and Emotional Pain? Here’s Relief!

by Relationship Coach Rinatta Paries on April 12, 2012 · 241 comments

in Articles, Break-ups and Divorce, Dating, Heartbreak, Marriage, Men's Help, Relationships, Singles, Women's Help

broken_heartResearch has discovered that we experience emotional pain as physical pain. This means that when you are experiencing heartache, your heart actually does hurt – well, perhaps not your heart, but something in your body does hurt, and badly. You know this already, because when you feel heartache or anxiety or frustration, it hurts.

In my practice I have noticed people often have a very low tolerance for the pain of heartache – they want to make it go away as fast as possible. And this is understandable. When you have a headache, you want to take an aspirin; and if your body hurts, you want to rest, sleep or go to the doctor to find out what’s wrong.

It’s true – physical pain often does indicate something is wrong with our bodies. Emotional pain is different however, even if we experience it physically. The best way to deal with emotional pain is to feel it, without making it better, because great gifts are on the other side of feeling that pain.

In order to understand exactly what I mean, let’s first look at how we behave when we are in pain.

Since physical pain is indication of something gone wrong in the body, you might feel some anxiety or worry about having the pain. You may wonder if you are OK. You want the pain to stop, wonder if and when it will stop, and try to make a plan for how to end it.

Same thing happens with emotional pain. You may feel heartbreak or loneliness or even frustration and wonder if you are going to be OK. You feel anxiety about the pain and wonder if the pain will ever stop and if you are going to survive it.

The interesting thing is that you do survive it, every time.

Think about the last time you felt emotional pain.

Perhaps the last time was about a second ago, or perhaps a fairly long time, regardless, put yourself back there for a moment. Now let me ask you a question. Was your body OK while you were feeling that pain? Were any parts of you bleeding or falling off? Were you able to feel emotional pain, but still go to the bathroom, walk and talk?

Emotional pain is not like physical pain. It can be debilitating in that it can take away your desire to do things such as eat, walk, talk, function, but it does not prevent you from actually doing those things. While physical pain is sometimes a signal that something is very wrong, this is not exactly the case with emotional pain. That is why you do not need to be afraid of emotional pain. It is not going to kill you. It is not going to cripple you. It is not going to blind you. It does hurt, but with no real harm to your body.

Emotional pain is different from physical pain in another way. Physical pain often needs outside intervention to make it go away. You may need to take a pain reliever, change your diet, go see a doctor, have an operation, bandage the hurt part, etc. Emotional pain will go away if you feel it. Often you have to do nothing else. But if you do not feel, it can linger for a lifetime while you take many actions to avoid feeling it.

This means that when you feel anxiety about feeling heartache, and worry about how you are going to make it go away, and try to make plans about how you are going to alter circumstances and situations and people so that you stop feeling pain, stop. Remind yourself that nothing bad will happen if you feel pain, and it will subside after you allow yourself to feel it. You don’t need to do anything to deal with emotional pain. Instead, you need to be with it.

Deal with emotional pain by delving into it, making friends with it, feeling it until it stops and you are on the other end of it. If you able to do this, there will be gold on the other end.

Here is the gold at the end of emotional pain. Imagine the freedom you would have if you were no longer afraid of feeling emotional pain. If you were single you might be willing to get out there and date more, because you would know you could tolerate the pain of rejection and the pain of not meeting the right person. Or perhaps you would choose to be single and happy, knowing that you could tolerate the pain of loneliness.

If you were in a relationship that wasn’t going fast enough you would either be more patient because you knew you could tolerate the pain of waiting, or you would get out because you knew that you could tolerate the pain of letting go and being alone.

If you were married or in a long-term relationship, you would perhaps speak up for yourself more because you knew that you could tolerate the pain of your partner’s rejection or his or her displeasure with you. Or perhaps you would get closer to your partner because you knew that you could tolerate the anxiety you feel at allowing someone to get close to you.

If you were going through a breakup or a divorce you could allow the relationship to end because you would know you could tolerate the grief and sorrow of letting go and the temporary loneliness.

Do you see the power you could have over your emotional life if you were able to tolerate emotional pain rather than being afraid of it? It can be truly astounding how much easier and more peaceful life becomes when you are no longer afraid of feeling pain.

It’s true that no one wants to feel emotional pain, but as it is a part of life and unavoidable, better to know that you can tolerate it and get through it than to be afraid of it.

Now for the specifics of how to tolerate emotional pain.

Try the meditation below the next time you are suffering from heartache. But please keep in mind, this is only one tool in the vast set of tools for dealing with emotional pain. If the meditation below does not fit you, or does not help you feel better enough, I invite you set up a personal Problem Solver coaching session with me, where I will give you a set of tools to use specific to you and your pain.

Meditation instructions: You can use the meditation once a day, many times a day, or pick a favorite line and use it as constant mantra to help you cope with pain.

Or perhaps use this meditation as a template and create a few lines that fit your circumstances best. Feel free to leave your version below in comments.

(I have loosely based this meditation on meditations from the Blooming of a Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh.)

Instructions: Read this to yourself slowly and breathe.

Feeling pain in my heart, I breathe in.
Suffering from the pain in my heart, I breathe out.

Feeling my heart breaking, I breathe in.
Feeling as if my heart will break in two, I breathe out.

Feeling the pain is too great to live with, I breathe in.
Feeling as if the pain is going to swallow me up, I breathe out.

Feeling hurt, I breathe in.
Finding hurt where I want love, I breathe out.

Feeling frustration and anger, I breathe in.
Feeling frustration and anger boiling inside, I breathe out.

Wanting things to be different, I breathe in.
Wanting to change him/her, I breathe out.

Wanting attention, I breathe in.
Craving attention, I breathe out.

Wanting gentle touch, I breathe in.
Wanting loving touch, I breathe out.

Feeling I am not good enough, I breathe in.
Seeing nothing good about me, I breath out.

Feeling shame about my body, I breathe in.
Feeling that I am unlovable, I breathe out.

Feeling that no one loves me, I breathe in.
Suffering from not feeling loved, I breathe out.

Feeling frustration, I breathe in.
Feeling fear, I breathe out.

Being afraid that nothing will ever change, I breathe in.
Wanting love in my life, I breathe out.

Feeling fear that I will not have what I want, I breathe in.
Feeling fear and anxiety, I breathe out.

Noticing that I am OK, I breathe in.
Noticing that I am OK, I breathe out.

Do you want help dealing with your heartache or emotional pain? I am here to support and guide you in both learning how to tolerate your pain, but also in reducing it effectively. I would love to help you create a dating or relationship life that has as little pain as possible and is mostly full of happiness and love. Contact me for a coaching session now.


Donna Gibboney September 26, 2013 at 10:41 pm

My pain is not with a relationship. It is for the loss of a companion. No one would understand. I merely want to join him where he is now. Life without him has little meaning. Each day should be a gift but I don't see it as such. each day is merely another day survived without him. Stupid, some say. They don't understand -and never will understand. And still, life goes on. Day after day.

Miss R September 1, 2012 at 8:28 am

I experienced my first break-up quite just under 12 months ago, and a mistake I made in the early weeks and months was to try to ‘pull myself together’ before I’d properly allowed myself to fall apart. Even as my boyfriend was breaking up with me, I was already picturing myself being back on track by Christmas. “Give me three months” I decided (and may have even said out loud) “and I’ll be out the other side of this situation even stronger than before.”

Well, a little like people describe childbirth, I couldn’t have believed how painful things were about to get. I couldn’t have believed it was possible for humans to go survive such a thing, having only heard about it and never actually experienced it for myself. I got quite a shock.

I hope it won’t discourage anyone on this page if I tell you that I still wasn’t better by February, I still wasn’t better by April, and in fact June and July were possibly the darkest months in the whole experience – yes, ALL that time later. I felt quite ashamed about that at the time.

But crucially, I was still living under this misconception that I could somehow fast track my recovery by refusing to fall apart. Or if I started to fall apart, to pretend to myself and to the whole world that I wasn’t.

Or (and I did this A LOT) whenever I experienced a better day, where the pain was bearable and I found myself walking down the street enjoying the sunshine, I’d totally congratulate myself for defeating it. “THANK GOD” I’d say to myself, “I’m on the other side of all that s**t. I thought it would never end. PHEW! Onwards…”

Then a few days later, I’d be back at square one (meaning the pain came back), only now it was worse because now I was convinced I’d failed at being better. (Go through this cycle enough times and you’ll ruin your own self-esteem far quicker than any ex could…)

This was the wrong approach. I no longer believe in some magical moment when “BING! Congratulations. You made it to the other side. It’s all over for you now. You can start being a success again.” For nearly a year, all that kept me going was waiting for that moment, and what’s worse is I was kind of putting everything on hold waiting for that moment to arrive.

What I should have done is exactly what this article says. Embrace the pain. Don’t block it, or be totally desperate for it to go away. Accept that it’s around, accept that it’s going to be accompanying you from now on, but that that’s ok. And with pain comes fear, and a little exhaustion. But that’s ok too. Because the only way it can really harm you is if you don’t adapt and say yes to it.

That’s what I’ve been trying for the past month or so, and I’m finally planning that big trip I’ve been saving up for – even if I do feel completely petrified about doing it on my own. Today I sent a brief, friendly text message to my ex for no other reason than something fun reminded me of him and I felt like saying hi. For the first time ever I didn’t get a response. It hurt. But it’s ok. I tried this meditation, and by the end of it I was laughing… I’m not sure if that was supposed to happen, but it felt good anyway.


maddie August 17, 2012 at 5:11 am

So i recently broke up with my partner about a month ago. We were together for around a year and before our relationships were very close friends. This guy has been a very special part of my life for three years now. He has not only been my bestfriend, but someone that i really came to depend on, i trusted him with anything that i told him and i felt that he would always be there for me and would never hurt me. So a month ago i got a message in the middle of the day during a class that he wanted to see me the following day to discuss some issues. I knew instantly what he meant and so i said to him what is it about? and he further sent me a few long messages about breaking up with me and not having feelings for me anymore. I still had another four hours of university left and the last thing i wanted to do was start crying in the middle of school. I can tell you right now it has to be one of the most painful experiences hiding something like that. So once i finished uni, i spent the entire night locked in my room, making myself sick from crying and trying to call/text him about what was going on and the only answer he could give me was “that i just lost feelings…i dont love you anymore”. I think to hear those words from someone that just the day before had told me that he didn’t want anyone else to call his own, it literally shot a hole in my chest. To cut a long story short, we have kept in contact, something i need help changing. This past month, after a week of us breaking up he was already dating another girl, he told me on our would be annerversary (14 months) about this girl, and that she gave him butterflies and he really liked her. The next couple of weeks, he has been treating me quite badly, he will message me and it will always end up in a fight and the blame comes straight back on me. He even got upset that i was going to a club one night. I know that i am stupid, and that i am doing this too myself. But i need help, im trying to distract myself but the ego inside of me to talk to him, to need him back is so strong and im having so much trouble controlling it. I still havent come to terms with everything because he was someone that i trusted so much and i never expected for him to do anything like this too me. Not necessarily the breaking up part, but how he did. How he treated me before and after the break up. The new girl even though he says it wasnt because of her. I just feel like i need to hate him or something, but i just cant. I cant stop loving him and wanting him. He was my bestfriend, and even that is an understatement. He was litterally my other half. and when he left i felt like he took half of me with him. I know i sound like a stupid heart broken girl. But i know that i do, and i dont want to be like this! I just don’t know how to just move on, and i know its time and small steps. But its been a month and yea ive stopped crying and the pain has eased, but the longing for him hasn’t one bit. And other guys have shown me attention and ive had a couple of encounters with guys but every time i get so upset because its not him. Im quite an independent person, so this is literally a cry for help. because i just don’t know what to do anymore… Thank you if you have read this. I appreciate you reading my silly whining… but i guess its true…love does make you go all stupid…

dmarie August 15, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I just have to say that this meditation changed my life. A year ago, I was completely devistated by the break up of a relationship. I was in emotional torture, and completely obsessed. Needless to say, it has been difficult to get past the pain. This meditation helped me to be present in the moment, lean into the pain instead of running from it, let it move through me and pass. This was truly life changing because it helped me realize on an intuitive level that I am not my obsessed mind. I am far more than that…. the conscious eternal presence that witnesses all of life and is part of each of us. I am not a religious person, but this experience has caused me to recognize the spiritual nature of humanity and life, and to gain the freedom to know I don’t have to be afraid of getting hurt. I have the tools and ability to move beyond my emotional pain. Thank you Rinatta!

Carson August 6, 2012 at 2:55 am

i have been looking for ways and reading material to try to cope with
the emotional pain i am now going through. I was in a 8 year relationship with a women, things went bad and we split for 3 months, i called her to and work things out. She was willing but she was also involved with someone already, it hurt to know this. Knowing she has been intimate with someone in such a short time, she did let him go and we were
together again, she now lives in a apartment after our first split.
To make a long story short and get to the point. We have together
for 6 months again but she did not want to be intimate with me, she
would reject me every time i tried to be close to her, i was loving helping
her with her apartment, showed in every way possible that I
loved her and wanted to be by her side always. The rejection i
felt was taking a toll on me and asked her if she was no longer
attracted to me, she said she loves me but the things in her life
have changed. I could not take the rejection anymore and told her
i can not be in a relationship if i am the only one trying, she said
she wanted different things in her life now. And did not care what
anyone thought, i had asked her numerous times if she wanted to be
with someone else, she said she did not want that and did not want
another mans problems in her life. Things were not getting better and
decided to separate again only to find out she was in bed with another guy in less than a week! The pain i feel seems unbearable, that one thing
i wanted from her she so easily gives it to someone else. I know i could
never take her back after this but the pain i feel is so overwhelming
i have been beating my friends an family with this heartache and
they are sick of me beating myself up over this. My self esteem is
in the toilet, and the humiliation i feel seems unbearable. If you
could give me some tools to focus on letting go of this pain would
be greatly appreciated. I am a good person an work hard i am told i am
good looking and have alot to offer a women, then why do i feel like
i can not get over this heartache, it seems to just stagnant in me i want
so much to put this behind me and move on. I just want to close this
door behind me and put this behind me, i just don’t know why it is
so hard.

Cherry Zen August 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

hey , wow thank you for sharing that with us all.. you were so honest and have courage to share this … I wish I could give you the solution but what can I say .. I have been through being in that hell.. and it took time … alot of time ..
Maybe you could ask divine wisdom to help you , to give you some guidance and to help you to move forwards…
Maybe write her a letter with all the things you want to say but not to send , you can burn it after , but maybe help a little.. as for the self esteem, I have been told so many times that good regular exercise is good for self esteem. Remember to do loving things for yourself, like positive gentle affirmations, a nice massage, and maybe a nice holiday in nature, remembering the beauty in the world.. and allow your self to cry as this is a compassionate act I hear..
let your friends love and support you , be open to receiving that love…
be creative with your hurt and anger and sadness etc… Paint , write, sing, find a passion you love!! Give time time , these thing take time … things will change eventually,one day at a time . know you are not alone, we all go through this, all of us…. Keep believing in your self and believe that there are gifts in all suffering , stay open and be kind to your self :)

Cherry Zen August 7, 2012 at 11:01 am

let your self feel what you need to feel , we can’t hide from how things are.. eventually things will change shades :)

mackenna July 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I have recently broke up with my boyfriend and I just feel like dying inside. Im going to take these step in order to gt rid of my broken heart, I am pretty unhappy and ust want to get happier.

~ Mackenna Monday

nyledih July 19, 2012 at 6:19 pm

to feel pain is normal.. its our attitude towards pain that is not normal sometimes..
many times, i have been brokenhearted, but i just realize that i gained from that experience. i learned that life is all about standing up not falling down… i really believe that the best way to vanish pain is to feel but not dwelling on it so much because you will never be reaching the point of moving on.

Cherry Zen August 7, 2012 at 10:59 am

Great advice :)

Dave Graham July 16, 2012 at 10:13 pm

The meditation is really good and I agree with the idea of feeling it. Feeling is healing. It does get tiresome. What I’ve done on occasion is comitt to two or three healing days. These days usually included a lot of soltitude and hikes through a quiet area in a large park or by the ocean. Often, I would pack a lunch and bring appropriate music with headphones. Lunch would ensure I could go my own way, certain music really helps purge sorrow, and walking at various speeds is very good for clearing of the mind and creating tranquility.

If I’ve already said this, why did I get asked to do it twice. I thought this was supposed to be fun and interesting-not psychological torment. Got enough of that now-Thanks.

Dave Graham July 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm

The meditation is really good and I agree with the idea of feeling it. Feeling is healing. It does get tiresome. What I’ve done on occasion is comitt to two or three healing days. These days usually included a lot of soltitude and hikes through a quiet area in a large park or by the ocean. Often, I would pack a lunch and bring appropriate music with headphones. Lunch would ensure I could go my own way, certain music really helps purge sorrow, and walking at various speeds is very good for clearing of the mind and creating tranquility.

Dave Graham July 16, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Liked the meditation and I agree with your philosophy. What I have done in times of emotional hurt is to do a feeling walk. Somewhere quiet and preferrably rural or at least woodsy I would pack a lunch and go out for a walk and some self time to feel my pain thoroughly. Walking helps somehow and the soltitude helps me regain a sense of friendship with me. Headphones with a certain type of music is also a good emotional catharsis.

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