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    Coping with Painful Experiences
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
    Coping with Painful Experiences

    People suffer for innumerable reasons. When they are in the thick of it, such suffering can seem intolerable. One helpful way of coping is to find meaning in your struggles.

    The book Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries (which provides direct and helpful advice for many different life struggles; 2013) offers a helpful exercise in doing this. The author, psychologist Guy Winch, suggests imagining that in ten years from now you "achieve something meaningful and significant" to you. Then he suggests reflecting back on your journey to that moment. As a way to guide your thinking, he directs you to take some quiet and uninterrupted time to complete some sentences, such as:

    I never imagined back then that such tragic events would lead me to:

    What I did was significant and very meaningful to me because:

    The first step of my journey toward the achievement was when I:

    As you reflect on your painful experiences — past or present- what do you find helpful in coping emotionally with them? In what ways is finding meaning (or doing the above exercise) helpful?

    If you would like to read more in detail about this topic in my The Art of Relationships blog, click here .

    Dr. Becker-Phelps's discussions and her responses in those discussions are for general educational purposes only. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.
    dfromspencer responded:
    Dr. Leslie, I read this blog, and it was like you were talking to me? Or at least the pain community here? Wow, that guy really knows his stuff, I have to say!

    I really liked the way you wrote about that pain. I myself have struggled, and I have seen, and heard of others that have struggled with pain, also! The journey that brought me to this point in my life is as he described, a personal journey, one filled with emotional turmoil. And yet, after changing the priorities in my life, I have finally arrived at an acceptance of pain as a part of who I am, and what I will be for the rest of my life! But, I will not let this pain rule my life, I will be the one that rules this pain, and try to help others accept their pain, and live life to its fullest!

    I am so glad you put this out here, so many deal with all kinds of pain, and it truly is an emotional ride through life!

    Thank you, Dr. Leslie!

    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Dennis, I'm glad that this resonated so well with you, and I hope that it validates and supports your efforts to find meaning in your painful experiences.
    dem51 replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
    read the blog, you offer such wonderful insight as i told you before i have been able to take away something away from your articles. but is really hard right now, i have been involved in an online fight.. also my son had his dad visit from nyc,he had no sexual desire but when it served him, i feel so ugly and used, i have a very hard time seeing the meaning in all the that, it took me six times before i could write. i dont know the meaning into i am
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to dem51's response:
    dem51, People who are struggling with just getting through the day often need to start very simply with helping themselves. I frequently advise people to make sure that they are getting enough sleep, eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and having healthy interactions with people every day (even if these are as simple as going to the store and interacting with the workers there). Each of these can be difficult by itself, so people often need to work on one at a time.

    I hope you are working with your therapist on helping you to establish a healthy lifestyle, manage your painful experiences, and nurture more positive feelings and thoughts. And, again, that you talk with your therapist about seeing you more often or helping you to find someone else who can; as well as helping you to find other supportive resources in your area.

    You have posted your own discussions here in the past. If you have found the responses to be supportive and helpful, you might want to do this again. The best way to do this is to choose just one difficulty and be as clear as you can about the problem.

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