Let’s face it…pain exists in the world. The people that say,"Oh, pain doesn’t exist, it’s just there to teach you, life is just good," I wonder how many of them have had cancer, grew up in an abusive home, or lost a child. Now, maybe they have dealt with some trauma, but simply have ignored the reality of it to not have to work through it. The reality is that pain does exist, but we can learn to get through it. It can be hard and take effort, but we will all experience difficult periods in life. These are some practical ways that myself and others in a painful circumstance similar to me have found helpful.

With any pain or hardship the first step is recognizing it. What this means is that we don’t diminish it.

Here is one example that I hear often. If you had abusive or neglectful parents that told you,"I did the best I could," and you agreed and said,"Yeah, it’s not a big deal, they did their best," then, you ignored the cause of the pain. You may forgive them for being neglectful parents, but it’s ok to say that you didn’t deserve to be treated that way as a child. If you’re going through a difficulty in life and telling yourself,"well, everything will work itself out," then you’re ignoring the pain. It’s better to start saying, "this is hard," or "this is painful."

When I went through a divorce, I wanted to process the pain, so I could minimize the "scarring" done to me. The first step was recognizing that this was painful and hard. A family is being split, whether justifiably or not, it’s still hard.

The next step, is feeling, expressing, and releasing it.

Most people try to "medicate" their pain with drinking, sex, blowing money, and so forth. The only problem is that this just numbs the pain, but it doesn’t help make the pain go away or help the person to grow from it. You have to be ok with with allowing yourself to feel down, sad, and allow yourself to grieve at times.

It’s important to have some outlets too express these feelings as well. Use exercise or physical activity when you feel tense or frustrated. Listen to music that reflects how you feel if you’re feeling down. Sometimes certain songs, or lyrics in a song can describe an emotion that you are feeling. Embrace other artistic talents and interests you may have that express the emotions that you feel internally. This helps you "let out" how you feel, rather than suppressing it.

It’s also extremely important to not stay isolated. If someone is calling to check in on you, and you don’t feel like talking to anyone, then, you probably really need to talk to someone. If you get invited to go to dinner, and you don’t feel like being social, do it anyways. When we are isolated is when we tend to go to the "dark places" in our minds.

The last step is learning to move through the pain, to improve, grow, and live life with minimal "scarring." Also, there is a recognizing and grieving in the previous steps, but you don’t want it to cast a shadow over years and years of your life.

You also don’t want it to cause damage in your friendships and relationships because you’ve become "hardened" to the world. So, you can’t stop at the first stages (granted there will be some overlap with these).

This is the time where you ask the questions about "what can I learn here?"

If you went through a divorce, realize what you may have done wrong in the relationship, and what was done wrong to you. Look at these patterns, and decide what you can improve for the next potential relationship, but more importantly for yourself.

Did you fail at a work or business venture? Ask yourself what was involved in the failure. Recognize what you could have done better and move on without fear into your next venture knowing that you’re more experienced.

Tell others. Talk to people that you trust, or find people that can relate to your circumstances or situation. I used to find this part hard, but as I talked with more people, I found that a lot of people have actually been through some kind of hardship even if they haven’t been doing exactly what I have, and we were able to relate on it and support and encourage each other. Use this as your support system moving forward. (Note: If you are a male, you may have to be more intentional about this.)

Educate yourself on the pain you are working through. There is a lot of information online that can be useful. I search on Google all of the time for "how to get over ____" or "the effects of _____." Fill in those blanks with anything, such as, divorce, child abuse, a demeaning spouse, or whatever it may be for you.

I know this is not a comprehensive list of what it can take to take on those hard times, but hopefully it gives a framework with which to start.

Let me know what you think and leave a comment below.