Why it hurts so much… and why painful feelings are not the enemy

Romantic love is such a big deal in our lives and plays a huge part in how most people feel about themselves. So it’s no wonder when we get stuck with that part we experience intense painful feelings like fear, anxiety – even desperation.

We are biologically programmed to be attracted to each other in a sexual and romantic way. On top of that, the world puts enormous pressure on us by telling us we are never going to be happy if we don’t have a partner. And if that’s not enough – we feel we failed in life if we don’t make it into the couples club: in most societies getting coupled or married is considered a life achievement without which we are somehow, less valid or accomplished as human beings.

That is of course nonsense, but – social animals as we are – it’s hard to not be affected by what everyone around us thinks we should be doing with our lives. We yearn for love, recognition and connection – yet often relationships with other people bring us more pain and disconnection than if we lived on a deserted island on our own.

At least there – there’d be nobody to judge us. What a liberating thought, huh? Nobody to say if you are fit or fat, nobody to make you feel small and shame you in any way. Nobody to reject you. I am sure if we didn’t have such a strong innate desire to connect with others, deserted island living would be a huge thing. If we could only find enough uninhabited islands to host us all.

But, unfortunately or fortunately – we love to be around other people, we make bonds from the moment we are born and we never stop longing for more closeness, more connection, more love. And as frustrating and hurtful our relationships can sometimes be, they are still at the same time a source of great joy.

We want other people, we need them. Love and hate them, but can’t live without them.

And yes, the pain is part of the mix. Heartbreak and breakups, feeling inadequate or unlovable, fear of losing someone we love, the torment of being with someone who misunderstands or ignores us, the anxiety of ‘Will she like me?’, the constant struggle to balance the stress of life that dampens our love flame… there is so much intensity and drama in everything that surrounds romantic relationships.

The feelings that arise are often unpleasant and hard to cope with. We all like when things go smooth and life is easy and breezy, but we also know life is rarely consistently that way.

Fortunately – feelings have a strong tendency to change over time, and go away as they came. Remember your mood at this time of day from three weeks ago? Me neither.

But when we are caught in this drama of intense emotions we often think that it will stay that way for good. ‘I can’t stop loving him.’ ‘My heart hurts and there is nothing I can do.’ ‘I will always feel this way.’ – we profess.

And we truly believe in it. At that moment. Until we wake up one day and feel different. And then we can’t believe we actually felt whatever we felt before. This is because once our feelings change, everything changes. We can remember we felt something, but it doesn’t feel REAL any more.

Remember that guy you were so in love with 10 years ago? How you cried when he rejected you or broke up with you? How you thought you’ll never love someone THAT MUCH ever again?

I know sometimes we do get stuck. And live and relive the same emotion for years and years. But that still doesn’t mean your emotion about something is reality. It is just your feeling of reality. And when you put a label on that feeling that says ‘truth’ you are essentially cornering yourself in your own life.

Thoughts are important. What we think defines us too. But thoughts have no power without the emotional charge. That’s when they become beliefs. And a person’s beliefs are their truth.

When you believe in something, you FEEL that your thoughts about it are true. For example: some people believe being gay is normal and natural. Some people believe the opposite. Regardless of who is right – they both feel their thoughts on the subject are true. They both have strong feelings, and as long as they are there, their opinion (which equals their ‘truth’) will not change.

In some way our feelings are our prison, the tinted glass on our window to reality. They determine so much of what we experience, and how we experience it. But they are also the key to our freedom. Anything and everything in our life can change once we let go of some feelings (and associated beliefs) and replace them with those that serve us better.

The way to love, happiness, joy and freedom is to embrace feelings and learn from them, not numb them or push them away – even if they hurt. They are here to give you a message. They carry important information that can help you understand who you are, what you want, what you don’t want, what is good or bad for you.

They point you towards your struggles. And that is the part of you that needs to be looked at and examined and brought to light. That’s where you need to do your inner work that will result in changing those feelings into something more pleasant and positive. When you start listening to your feelings, you can learn where they come from and why, and that gives you the insight and power to change them.

There is no healing nor learning if we don’t work through our feelings. When we run and hide from them, they always catch up and pop up in unexpected places. They follow us even when we say ‘I will not go there any more, because it hurts too much’. That’s when they find another way in – and cause you more pain in another relationship where you thought you were safe.

They won’t let you go, until you face them.

When you are heartbroken or miserable because someone doesn’t want you, when you are down because you can’t find a partner – ask yourself: Why is this feeling here now? Is it really because I can’t live without someone by my side? What is it telling me about my truth – how I perceive the world?

There are layers and layers of beliefs you’ll discover if you look closely and think about what’s behind your emotions. There are so many things you will learn about yourself and the human condition in general that you’ll be shocked how you even lived before you knew all that.

And if you look hard enough, you will find the solution to end your pain.

Feelings make our world rich and meaningful. If we didn’t have them, everything would be – bland, boring, meh. Life would be a pointless exercise of repeating your activities without any enthusiasm, passion, excitement or joy. Yes, we would never experience pain, but we’d never experience joy either.

So listen to your feelings, be with them, get to know them. And then decide which ones you want more or less of. You’ll never be completely free of the bad stuff, but you can change the ratio dramatically. You can free your life from circumstances dictating how you feel.

You can choose what you want to feel. It takes time and skill – but once you master that, your life will be a whole different story. A much more happy one.


How do you feel about your… feelings?

Share in the comments below!

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4 Responses

  1. I feel extremely down because I am trying to let go of someone that doesn’t feel the same way about me and it really hurts. I don’t know how to deal with it and I have to see the person everyday at work. I don’t love myself either so that also makes it hard.

    • Tex says:

      (It’s easy for me to say but..) First rule when you connect in love with someone in job: Someone must go or, don’t start love relationship at all.
      Why? Just because this you have now+, people on job doesn’t like someone being in bond in love, in place where team work is essential. If not essential-never mind: THEY don’t like you both and they WANT you to quit because they feel you two are like gang there and everyone experience you both as ONE.
      Never mix love and job.

      Now, what can you do? Either going out of that place or, sit on coffee with ex and speak openly…(you didn’t provide enough info).

      Wish you luck.

    • Petra says:

      I agree, it is extremely hard when we have to stay in contact. How long ago was your breakup? If it’s fresh give it a bit of time (few months) and see if things change. Minimise your communication as much as you can and stick to business topics. If nothing gets better, you might consider changing your job. We can talk about your options more in private if you’d like – contact me for a consultation.

  2. Sheila says:

    Petra is spot on with this post. Its taken me nearly six years to understand and ‘get there’. You cant stop the waves but you can learn to surf! (As far as difficult emotions go). Ive been ‘in places’ emotionally that I never thought Id get out of. But Ive hung on in there and I have. When difficult times come round again I know I will get through OK . Thats the beauty of it all.
    Best wishes

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