We can limit the amount of pain we create for ourselves by selecting better coping tools.
Most of us are simply not comfortable being uncomfortable. How often have we popped pain pills at the slightest headache or got shot up with anesthesia at the dentist? It can be almost a reflex: “Dope me up, doc!” In some cases, of course, this choice makes perfect sense. But it contributes to the modern-day assumption that we should be able to numb all pain—whether physical or emotional—immediately.
What’s fascinating is that other cultures make room for a greater range of painful emotions. For example, research by Birgit Koopman and Jeanne Tsai of Stanford University shows that American condolence cards are more likely to say something like get better soon, while German condolence cards tend to acknowledge the inevitable grief and the pain that follows loss. The German cards may seem less comforting to us, but they are more real.
There will always be pain. It can’t be helped. But we can limit the amount of pain we create for ourselves by selecting better coping tools. There are much healthier ways to handle our painful emotions that also help them move along faster. …