Making Changes Before Great Emotional Pain

In my last post on My Life Experiment, I talked about Staying out of Default Mode Living. Today we are going to talk about emotional pain, which I feel is generally the reason we hold ourselves back from living the fullness of our lives.

After I put that article out, I got the answer to a question I didn’t even realize I was asking.

Why do individuals (including myself) continually go back into living On Default, and neglect to create more positive experiences for themselves?

That was the Question. The answer that came is that LIFE HURTS.

The Truth About Life And Emotional Pain.

The unfortunate truth about life is whether we show up and attempt new things or not, there will be emotional pain. That and LIFE doesn’t really give a damn if we are experiencing pain or not. It will not slow down and wait for us to catch up. If we don’t change, the pain will only intensify.

In the recovery community, I am a part of, there is a saying about pain and change.

It goes “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

Well, actually I just stole Tony Robbin’s paraphrasing of the statement. But it captures the essence of an issue all beings face.

Over my last 9 years in recovery, I have experienced a great deal of success! But there have been many occasions where I have had to experience great stress and worry before making a new change.

Don’t get me wrong I am not a using addict anymore and that type of pain was pure torture style suffering. Even though I do suffer at times these days, the type of suffering pales in comparison to what it once was.

The emotional pain is still pain though and says something needs to happen. It is my bodies way of signaling that I need to make a move.

Stress and Pain as a Sign for a Problem.

When my hand touches a hot stove top, the pain receptors in my brain tell me that I need to move my damn hand. The same goes for when I am caught in a situation where I need to make a decision to move into a new direction! When I procrastinate on changing, stress builds.

Stress is pain. It is the equivalent to the burning sensation from the stove. Throughout a great deal of my life, unfortunately, I have been a glutton for punishment, unable to “take my hand off of the hot stove.” Even though my flesh was searing.

For many years I came to believe that the intense stress I felt, was just the way I was. So I accepted it, and then tried to numb it out with chemicals, living inside a fantasy in my own head, and many other fruitless activities.

But then the stress was even greater than my ability to numb it out. At 26 years old, my Liver, my Pancreas, my Kidneys, my Nervous System were all ready to give up on me.

For me, there was nowhere else to go. I had a dilemma.

  1. Keep using, and probably kill myself.
  2. Quit using and enter into a world that freaked me out almost as much as the idea of death did.

I took the latter option and entered recovery.

This is only my bottom and it was extreme. I realize that most people (whether an addict or not) do not have to go to this extreme to change. And I am immensely grateful that I no longer do either!

Change Before Great Emotional Pain.

We do not have to wait until the pain of staying the same is more painful than that of changing.

Great amounts of pain DO NOT need to build for us to enact substantial changes in our own lives.

Like I said above. “Our bodies tell us when something needs to change.” For all those years, I had no intellectual clue that stress meant I needed to make a change. Thankfully I know this now.

I would say that these days I deal with the kind of stress that your average human being does. I feel it coming, usually procrastinate some, and generally take care of things before things get too crazy inside of my head. And before the stress builds to the “pulling my hair out stage.”

I am an individual that is susceptible to high anxiety fairly easily. This means that the level of self-care I need to have in my life needs to be on point.

That or my stress reaches a point where I find myself wondering if I need to be on anxiety medication once again. There is nothing wrong with medication, but I try to look through all my other self-care options before I move in the medication direction.

self care for pain

The options that I look to reduce my stress and pain are as follows:

  1. Take time to listen to my body.
  2. Make Decisions promptly when they come up.
  3. Find some relaxation.
  4. Meditate.
  5. Talk to others.
  6. Maintain a Therapeutic Writing process.
  7. Stay physically active.
  8. Have some fun.
  9. Put the phone down for a while and breathe.
  10. Maintain a Healthy Diet.

A Life With Manageable Stress Levels.

What these self-care options do is help me to keep my stress at a manageable level. With my stress at a manageable level, life does not hurt quite as much as it could. And when I am not in so much emotional pain, it is so much easier to step up and take on the next amazing opportunity. Though I also realize that emotional pain is also the reason why I wouldn’t want to do everything on my list that would help reduce my stress. Self-care can be hard to want to do as well sometimes. But that may be for another article…

No matter what, I need to act. I just need to just toughen up and do what I need to do knowing that if I don’t, more unnecessary pain awaits. I have chosen to live. And if I am going to live, even though i know pain is inevitable, I would rather not suffer.

This is the message I want to leave you with today. I hope you choose to live today, to step up and keep moving through the pain. Because in my strong opinion, it is entirely worth it. Don’t give up. When the hard work gets put in, the beautiful rewards may be just around the corner. It would be a shame for anyone to give up just before “the miracle” of positive change happens.

Well, that is all we have for today and thank you so much for stopping into My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth.
We truly believe that if you take today’s lessons to heart and apply them, that you will greatly benefit.

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Pushing positive energy through the negative.

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I am a strong believer in the law of attraction! I have also experienced how it works in my life.

When I put out positive energy I am met back with that same energy. Just the same as if I am putting out negative energy that is what I receive back. This has been a great thing for me to implement in my life and it ALWAYS works.

Lately even though I know it works, I have had an extremely difficult time putting out that positive energy, which is not something that you do just once at the beginning of the day. Rather, it is something that you continue to do throughout your entire day. That, or it simply will not be effective!

It has been very difficult to follow through on staying positive, as of late. I begin my day by thinking positively and feeling love for what’s to come, but when that first negative thought or feeling comes it can be easy to let it hijack my whole day.

One area that is hugely impacted is at work. I work at Costco, which I normally love, and I interact with people my entire shift.

I am sure everyone can relate to shopping and ending up with that crabby cashier which can put a damper on your whole experience! I never thought that I was the crabby cashier. Well, it turns out that I am more that person lately than I thought.

When one unreasonable customer begins pushing my buttons they no doubt are feeling my “stabby eyes”, as my husband calls them. If just one of these customers comes around I can have a drastic personality change! And it will make it more likely that others after them will feel my wrath.

I am generally an upbeat and friendly person who never minds striking up conversation with those who come through my line. I smile and laugh with others and love to help cheer people up. Currently I am none of those things which has got me a bit down.

It’s not that I don’t want to be grateful, because trust me I do. I think that with all the changes that have come with being pregnant and being off one of my medications, that it has become a lot harder to manifest the positivity that I once had. This only increases fear and anxiety in my life.

I find it important to see exactly how this is affecting my everyday life. Gaining perspective on this is what drives me to make changes. What I know is that this issue has stopped me from fully being myself, leaving me feeling irritated and angry.

I am done hindering myself from having a great day. I am also done preventing myself from seeing all the positive things that are going on around me!

Although I am not trying to do it intentionally, I am making things harder for those I am working with. Ultimately, I am making it hard for anyone who encounters the negative energy I am fostering. This includes my family, friends, and even my cats!


In my last post I mentioned how I would focus on bringing more gratitude into my life. This is something that can help me to attract positive energy, and not keep my day hijacked by the negative in my own head! Here are a few ways I have been able to do this!

1. Stop and list things I am grateful for in my head- This acts like a timeout if you will. Doing this at work helps to turn my mood around, even if for a few minutes.

2. I have a symbol to help remind me to be grateful- I picked this up from “The Power by: Rhonda Byrne.” I picked something that I love. Every time I see a turtle I stop and really invoke feeling of gratitude and love in my life. I see it in jewelry,on t-shirts, kid’s toys, and more. “Affiliate Link Below”

3. I take a moment to breathe- This allows me to slow down and relax a little. When this happens, I can focus on feelings of gratitude, and get back to my friendlier personality.

4. Putting myself in others shoes- At work I have found it helpful to think about how coworkers might be affected by my energy. I know that when I work with someone who is constantly negative it can take a toll on my mood and sometimes I find myself feeling negative right along with them.

5. Thinking helpful thoughts- When I can get outside of my head and think of helping others, that can keep me from treating them badly. Thinking of helping others has helped me to stop the negative thoughts and start thinking positive thoughts. Then I am able to laugh with and not criticize, to smile at and not scowl, and to love and not hate.

Each of these things helps me to incorporate more positive energy into my day, which is something that I really need right now. Actively practicing this is what makes for a good day and I become someone that others want to be around.

Well that is all I have for now! Thanks for taking a moment of your day to read this! Feel free to share if you found this to be helpful.

Also, look over to the sidebar and sign up to My Life Experiment’s email list to receive our free Therapeutic Writing Guide, and to receive My Life Experiment blog directly to you email!

I hope you have a great day!



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Hello, we are Travis and Casey Hagen the writer’s and owner’s of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds to find healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. There is plenty for us to share with you about finding better ways to live. So please follow us on our journey as we share what we know, and continue to share as we invitably learn more.

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