I was in pain. Literally.
It felt like my heart would explode. My heart was beating so fast, and I had issues breathing normally. I wanted to cry, but somehow I couldn’t.
That’s how I reacted when she dumped me.
I had been practicing stoicism for a long time, and I wasn’t the kind of person who gets upset by someone else’s actions. And this ‘getting dumped’ incident was shocking and unnatural to me. As a result, even I reacted unnaturally.
I felt attached to her in a short time when we dated. And like Buddha said, “Attachment is the root cause of all suffering.”
I lived that lesson.
I knew everything is impermanent. I knew I’d eventually move on. But my mind wasn’t clear to think of all this, and I needed this pain to go away immediately.
This wasn’t just my case; I have been with so many friends going through the same in their lives. I was curious to know what can we do about this, how can we get over situations like this.
And there began my journey in exploring how to get immediate relief from emotional suffering.
Here are 4 activities I have learned over the years that provide immediate relief to emotional suffering —
Journaling is therapeutic.
You can start by writing down everything you need to accept now. E.g. —
- She is gone now. And I’m single.
- I’d have to face an awkward conversation with her brother now.
- She borrowed a book from me, and maybe I’ll not get it back now.
The best way to avoid emotional suffering is to practice detachment. That’s the ideal thing to do. You can practice detachment by remembering these 4 principles of life —
1. You are sure to grow old.
Our cells grow, our tissues grow, and ultimately our bodies will grow as well. It’s counterproductive trying to avoid aging.
2. You are sure to get sick.
Maybe you will stay away from sickness and illness for a very long time. Staying healthy forever doesn’t sound like being human.
3. You are sure to die.
Embracing this hard truth will help you let go of all the meaningless drama you are currently involved in.
4. You need to part away from what’s beloved to you.
We try finding happiness in worldly possessions or other human beings. And none of them translate to true freedom or helps you avoid suffering and pain.
Practicing detachment means acknowledging and accepting the real world.
Go back to your defense mechanism (for a while)
What do you usually do when you are bored, anxious, upset? That’s probably your defense mechanism.
I binge watch some comedy tv-series and eat some delicious food whenever I am in such a situation. That’s my defense mechanism; what is yours?
If you want to have some beers or binge-watch a whole season of F.R.I.E.N.D.S., it’s okay. Let’s not count how many calories you would be consuming or how many productive hours you will be wasting away re-watching a series. This added shame has the power to amplify your suffering. But if you’re aware of it, this can help you a lot too.
This sounds like a risky plan, so proceed with caution.
Change your environment
Get up and move. Go for a walk. Nature can help. Or maybe visit a cafe to eat something good.
If you stay in one place, the resemblance and association of certain memories will keep haunting you. Movement is not the answer to resolving your suffering, but it’s a good way for some immediate relief.
I also used to listen to some calming instrumental music when I was under such circumstances. However, if you listen to songs with lyrics, you would probably associate the words with your suffering, and it could be going into the rabbit hole of turmoil.
If you visit a park and see some kids and pets playing, they can immediately shoot up your oxytocin levels. It will be temporary for sure, but we are looking for immediate relief, right?
Drink some water
This is the quickest and easiest activity for immediate relief.
If you drink a lot of water, you would be busy going in and out of the washroom so often that you will be distracted to indulge in your emotional concerns. Funny, right?
In fact, having a glass of water must be the first thing you must do for some relief. This is even backed by science.
I usually ask my clients to have a glass of water before starting my private coaching sessions. When your throat is relaxed after a glass of water, you would feel more comfortable opening up about yourself.
It works like a charm.
Have some fun with it — add some honey in a glass of lukewarm water. Also, when life gives you a lemon, you…?
Before you try any of this
Notice whatever I mentioned will help you with immediate relief from emotional suffering. However, these activities shall not be misinterpreted to ‘resolve’ your emotional suffering.
To actually resolve emotional suffering, a lot of deep inner work is required. And that would mean going beyond all the points I mentioned here. It might feel weird and painful to start, but that’s how any recovery process begins.
If you feel you’re ready to do deep inner work to resolve your emotional suffering, here are certain points that will help you —
- Become emotionally aware. Label your emotions—lookup for your triggers. Recognize your defense mechanisms.
- Develop a daily reflection practice. Contemplate what went well and what went wrong that day.
- Forgive yourself for your past. It’s a significant part. Accept the lessons you must have learned. Forgiveness is a form of acceptance.
- Practice stillness. Journaling and meditation will help. They help you increase your reaction time and calm your impulses.
- Working with a coach or a therapist can definitely accelerate this process and help you grow emotionally.