Why self-inflicting emotional pain doesn't heal heartache

It is a natural reaction for us to punish ourselves when we are suffering from heartache. Here's why that's a bad idea, and what to do instead.

Why self-inflicting emotional pain doesn't heal heartache

It is a natural reaction for us to punish ourselves when we are suffering from heartache. Here's why that's a bad idea, and what to do instead.
  • Emotional pain can be worse than physical pain. When we feel physical pain, we can do something about it; we clean the wound, put on some sterile dressing and give it some time to heal. Whether it is a muscle cramp, a broken bone or a laceration, there is a remedy that will facilitate the healing process.

  • Heartache is different

  • The pain of heartache stings to our very soul. Our hopes and dreams have been dashed to pieces. Like Humpty Dumpty falling off the wall, all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put him back together again. When our heart breaks, it feels as if we have lost a part of ourselves.

  • Our first response is to blame, criticize or condemn. First, we turn against the person who is gone. When we realize that doesn't solve the problem, we turn on ourselves. We argue that we deserve it, for surely we are not good enough!

  • We feel vulnerable and find ourselves susceptible to every look and comment. In order to mask the vulnerability, we adopt self-defeating behaviors. We sleep in, overeat, withhold positive self-talk and make ourselves do things that are difficult, scary or cruel.

  • We think that if we inflict enough emotional pain on ourselves, either we will feel better or perhaps someone will come to our rescue. They will feel sorry for us, bind up our wounds and give us the love that we desperately need. Unfortunately, these types of relationships don't solve heartaches; they create more of them!

  • Healing is possible

  • "One day while I was lying in bed, nursing my heartache and waiting for the world to end, I heard a knock above my head. I looked up, but there was nothing on the headboard that could have fallen to make the sound. I knew it was God. He was telling me, 'Get up! Stop moping around and do something!'"

  • Although time may assuage the pain, a heartache does not heal itself. The heart is the very center of the soul; it is the connecting link between the spirit and the body. The person we love becomes a part of us. When they leave, we feel a deep sense of loss, and the pain may seem unbearable.

  • The only way to fill the hole left by a heartache is to turn to God. This requires that we become humble, willing, obedient and serve others.

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  • Humility

  • The pain of heartache brings us to our knees. We realize our dependence upon God, and acknowledge that we cannot overcome this difficulty on our own. We need Him to help us. We give Him our burden of weakness and imperfection, and express our desire to be healed.

  • Willingness

  • We accept our imperfect state, and open our minds and hearts to God's healing power. We give all that we have to Him in exchange for His unconditional love. Our souls are bathed with the peace "which passeth all understanding" Philippians 4:7.

  • Obedience

  • We truly can feel whole and complete once again. The bitterness of the heartache will subside. We can show our gratitude to God by taking His hand and walking with Him, knowing that no matter what happens, He is there for us.

  • Service

  • As we serve others, our feelings of love for them will increase and we will desire to help those that are in pain. Finding ways to give helps fill the emptiness that our heartache left behind. We will feel a renewed sense of purpose, joy and happiness in life.

  • Heartaches are not the end of the world if we don't allow them to be. They are simply one more way for us to become closer to God. As we do so, we find that there are many others who walk similar paths, and that our experience can be used to help them.

Denise is a published author with an Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology. Additional writings are found at


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