Pain as a Signal

My knee has been giving me problems (an old ski injury—further evidence that exercise is bad for you). Jokes aside, I’ve noticed that it also impacted other areas of my body. Not only was my knee stiff and sore but my ankle and hip on that same side hurt because they had to work harder to compensate for the problem knee.

It’s easy to notice pain spreading when it’s your body; it’s not so obvious when it’s negative emotions that are spreading.

We have far less tolerance for physical pain than we do emotional which is a shame. If we were as diligent about caring for our emotional aches as we are the physical ones, we’d have less of both.

The Law of Attraction says, “You get more of what you focus on.” We are not always aware that we are focused on something that is causing us distress. This is why your inner guidance system is so handy to have. The way it guides you is through your emotions and the system is brilliant in its simplicity.

When you are experiencing a negative emotion, it is your inner guide signaling, “If you stay focused where you’re focused, you are NOT going to like what you attract.” For example, the more I focused with annoyance on the pain in my knee the worse it seemed to get.

By contrast, when you are experiencing a positive emotion, it is your inner guide signaling, “If you stay focused where you are focused, you are really going to like what you attract.” The more I focused on the solution (resting my leg, using an icepack, etc.) and the more I paid attention to the 85% of my body that felt good, the less my knee hurt.

We don’t do this when we experience emotional pain. Instead of looking for solutions for our distress, we very often do everything in our power to make it worse.

Think of the last time you were incredibly frustrated. This is the usual scenario: First, there is a temper tantrum. Maybe there is no actual stamping of feet but there is most certainly pouting (sometimes cleverly disguised by throwing or slamming things). Following the tantrum is the pity party where some version of “poor me” is focused on, fully indulging the Inner Martyr that resides within. Then comes the spreading of the virus. Friends and co-workers are told the story and usually called upon to vote on how awful the situation is. If no friends are within earshot, perfect strangers will do. We regale the clerk at the local convenience store with our troubles, desperate for someone to know how we’ve suffered.

And the more we focus on our frustration, the more the pain spreads. What started out as a minor annoyance, we manage to turn into a full blown saga. Soap operas dull in comparison!

If you experience negative emotion and you ignore it—don’t worry, it will get bigger. It will continue to grow until it’s finally big enough that you HAVE to do something about it or until you go to sleep, whichever comes first.

Treat emotional pain like you do physical. Pay attention! If you have a headache, you generally take some sort of pain reliever. Relief is easier and quicker for the pain of negative emotion. The quickest way to release the pain is to focus on something guaranteed to evoke a positive emotion. Concentrating on something that makes you feel good is more powerful than any medication.

Pain is there for a reason. It signals us that something is wrong. For physical pain, go to a doctor. Make sure you’re okay. Do no less for emotional pain. Pay attention to what is being signaled and treat it as soon as possible. You DO get more of what you focus on. Choose wisely.

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