Lifestyle | April 15th, 2024

Why Simply Acknowledging your Pain is Not Enough; My Testimony of Turning my Pain into Power

By: Jewel Wells | Staff Writer
Why Simply Acknowledging your Pain is Not Enough; My Testimony of Turning my Pain into Power

Pain is, well, painful. Oftentimes words can’t even begin to describe the depth of how intense things can truly feel. It’s no secret that pain promotes change, for better or for worse. After reading this article it will be extremely clear just how pain is an opportunity to elevate far beyond your plans. The question you’re likely asking is, yeah right, how? I’ll let you know now it’s not an easy route, but absolutely achievable and well worth the effort. 

A Dream Deferred: The Pain of Losing My Power 

I will never forget the time I achieved my most precious accomplishment and the very moment that same thing turned into a reminder of my greatest pain and triumph. It was two weeks before move-in day, my freshman year of college, I sat with myself realizing the position of pure agony I was in.

I knew that had I followed my only dream–but my life would be ruined in ways that were unimaginable yet predicted. While my success mattered so much to me, I knew this was the opportunity to regain everything that was stolen. My dignity, emotional wellness, and livelihood. Those things meant far more to me than any dream in this world. It was at that very moment; the withdrawal email left my outbox. 

The opportunity of attending my dream school was a personal win, an opportunity for sisterhood, and the one thing I knew for sure would make my parents proud, also honoring the promise made to my incredible late grandparents. What I didn’t know then, was that the pure rage and pain I felt in that moment, would build me into the most powerful version of myself. 

But not without intention, prayer, and time–lots of it. 

Though plenty of time had passed, and I had since felt every range of emotion known to man, I still didn’t know how to completely heal from what had hurt me. This unique mix of hopelessness and courage I had to face the unknown reminds me of the quote by world-renowned singer Bob Marley,

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”  

The Overlooked Step that Changed it All 

It wasn’t until one day I noticed that in my time of feeling pain, I forgot the most important step, addressing it. While pain is meant to be acknowledged, simply doing so is not enough. The key factor that turned my life from hopeless to hopeful, was the ability to acknowledge my current weaknesses as future strengths. . [how to address my pain]

While there is no perfect recipe when turning your pain into power, one of the greatest ingredients is the ability to acknowledge what you lack, create active solutions that will lead to gaining what you seek, and most importantly creating space for your new and improved circumstances.With that said, one must not rely on comfort when acknowledging feelings. The secret to healing lies in the ability to make assessments of what has pained you and address the things that keep you from evolving. 

According to a 2022 study published by the American College Health Association (ACHA) regarding the challenges present among college students, “77% of students experienced some kind of psychological distress, either moderate or severe; 54% experienced loneliness, and 30% had exhibited suicidal behavior.” As a college student myself, these numbers truly concern me. 

It’s no secret that the experience of physiological and emotional turmoil is heavily present within the community of college campuses. What may be a secret, however, is how the use of coping alone may not produce the desired growth most are seeking. 

The Advanced Art of Coping 

I have always been taught the best way to heal is by coping and expressing your feelings. As a college student myself, trust me, I understand the struggle in doing both of those things. Coping mechanisms within college spaces range from healthy and balanced to completely unhealthy and damaging. On the other hand, expressing your emotions, and or, the act of acknowledging them also varies in impact.

Some students like me, do both, healthily even, yet still struggle to create an emotional evolution from current positions of hurt. While a firm advocate for therapy and regularly encourage the use of such resources, I find in my personal life that emotional outlets and forms of coping are most effective when paired with specific actions to change your current emotional position. 

An example of this would be someone who struggles with the pain of loneliness choosing to acknowledge their current emotions, while currently finding ways to fulfill said emotions based on their needs. Then, acting on long term solutions that address the issue at hand. This process is what I consider the most promising recipe for both recognizing and recovering from pain. 

It is widespread for people to use coping as a tool to improve their relationship with pain. While it has its place in the realm of healing, to maximize its impact coping should be directly used with helpful actions that address the underlying issues itself.  

To explain the impact of addressing the underlying causes of pain, I often use the analogy of someone who doesn’t. 

Imagine yourself, or even someone you love suffering an illness that they have been coping with for years, yet they never once sought to find the cause and correct the core issue. We all can acknowledge that the act of seeking the cause alone, could possibly result in the solution that may heal the issue in its entirety, changing the continuous need to cope with a simple cure.   

Sounds pretty interesting when you put it that way, right? 

Acknowledging Pain: The steps to Making Dreams a Reality

Many people find therapy to be helpful in finding both the sources of pain within their life as well as coping mechanisms that can be useful to their progress. Within my personal life therapy has been incredibly effective, aiding me to accomplish things many believed I would never be able to do or overcome. In a 2020 article, medically reviewed by Alex Klein, PsyD, written by Sara Linbern, Linbern states,

“Working with a psychologist, therapist, or counselor in a therapeutic relationship gives you an opportunity to explore your thoughts, feelings, and patterns of behavior.” 

Therapy continuously proves to show great effectiveness in helping one acknowledge their pain and feelings. I personally believe acknowledging your discomfort and pain is essential to remain self-aware and improve insightfulness. Self-awareness also provides a level of internal wisdom that can answer the question on how to overcome the things that plague you.  on how to overcome the things that plague you. While acknowledgement is vital when confronting disparity and pain, the ability to assess your inner self, find what you lack, and give yourself those very things is the most critical part in becoming the person you have dreamed of being.  

Seeing Pain as Power and Failure as a Future Success 

Now within my life, when I am rejected, lose an opportunity, or find myself in the same place of gut-wrenching grief that once tormented me and left me hopelessly starting over, I begin the process of recognizing, accessing, and acting on changes that will make my current stance a stepping stone for my next success. 

Simply understanding that acknowledging my pain isn’t enough, I am called to feel more, overcome more, and achieve far more than I ever could have had I gotten exactly what I planned for. To those reading who have experienced grief, rejection, heartache, and pain. I ask that when you acknowledge and accept your pain, you assess the very things needed to create the circumstances of your dreams and act on them, then surely the things you dream of, will become your reality.  

When all faith is lost, I return to this recipe of emotional evolution, constantly recalling this quote to be true, 

“I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it”

– Maya Angelou