ERP 140: How Pain and Suffering Increase & What to Do about It

By Posted in - How To Improve Your Relationship & Podcast April 12th, 2018 2 Comments how to handle pain in relationship

Topic: How to handle pain in relationship

“The Value in Pain and the Pain in Value”

Last year, I can across this Ted Talk, The Value in Pain and the Pain in Value, by Lode Dewulf

I highly recommend watching the video. He does a great job of describing how we compound the amount of pain we experience, by adding more layers of pain.

Lode’s teaching apply to all types of pain, physical, mental, emotional, etc. Today, I we’re going to focus on relationship pain.

Why is it…“Our best way and often only way of dealing with pain seems to be avoidance. Pain is that big elephant that lives in most rooms of our life and that we prefer to ignore or suppress. No wonder then that the business of pain suppression is big business. In 2015 alone, over 300 million prescriptions for painkillers were written in the world for a total cost of 24 billion US dollars. Making painkillers the second most prescribed class of medicines after anticancer drugs. Strikingly, 95% of that consumption is in the United States and Europe with US taking the vast majority.” by Lode Dewulf

(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.)

Our Perception

The way we orient ourselves in time and how we assess what we like and do not like gives us the unique experience of qualifying our past experiences and anticipating our future experiences.

The Value in Pain and the Pain in Value | Lode Dewulf |

When dealing with pain, we remember our previous experiences and anticipate our future experiences based on our likes and dislike. This remembering and anticipation adds more pain to the existing pain.

The Value in Pain and the Pain in Value | Lode Dewulf |

Lode’s example of the pain in his right foot:

    • Pain of loss: “I miss the time when could walk freely.”
    • Pain of desire: “I need a pain killer and need it now.”
    • Pain of Anger: Anger directed towards other’s is blame. “The surgeon should have done a better job.” Anger directed towards self is guilt. “If only I did not agree to the surgery.”
    • Pain of Fear: “Oh no, I hope it is not going to be as bad as last time.”

Lode invites us to consider, “How much pain is actually of the now?”

Relationship Pain

When it comes to relationship pain, we often get confused.

On one hand, we fantasize about the idyllic beginnings of relationship comparing the current experience to the “way things used to be.” When we enter into the power struggle stage, we often are disillusioned by the relationship challenges. Thinking, “I didn’t sign up for this.”

On the other hand, we know relationships take a level of investment and attention. We understand that keeping a relationship healthy requires effort. Sometimes the effort will require us to heal and grow, which can feel painful (how to handle pain in relationship).

How much pain is too much?

For me the question is more about how are we dealing with our pain? Are we directly meeting our pain or are we denying, deflecting, avoiding, projecting suppressing in ineffective, dysfunctional, and harmful ways?

Access your free Relationship Map.

Client example: (please listen to the episode for full description)

Like – Past/Loss: He might say, “I miss the days where she adored me and was loving toward me.” She might say. “I miss feeling him with me and our connection.”
Like – Future/Desire: He might say, “I wish she would treat me with more consideration and respect.” She might say, “I wish he would engage with me and let me in.”
Dislike – Past/Anger: Blame: He might say, “She is such a villian. I can’t believe I put up with this!” She might say, “He is so passive. How are we to have a relationship, if he doesn’t show up!” Guilt: He might say, “I don’t know how to give her what she wants. Maybe I am not good enough.” She might say, “Why did I choose a guy like this? Why didn’t I see the signs?”
Dislike – Future/Fear: He might say, “Is this how it is going to be. I don’t know how to live with someone who is constantly berating or belittling me. I may never be truly happy.” She might say, “I have tried everything to get him to engage. Maybe he doesn’t really care about me and will leave me. I may never have real love.”

Turning Towards Pain

If you have listened to my previous podcasts, I talk about turning towards your pain, so that you can see what is going on. Once you have more clarity, then you can share with your partner more vulnerability. When your partner can see you and your hurt, they are likely to soften. This begins to create safety, allowing more openness and connection.

Conversely, when we don’t turn towards our pain. We will consciously or often unconsciously, work really hard to protect ourselves. We all have really good strategies to shut down, ignore, divert, protest, go intellectual, criticize, and blame…all of which are ways to attempt avoiding the pain. However, what ends up happening is we complicate the dynamic and create more pain and suffering.

If you blame and attack your partner, they are likely to get defensive. If you shut down, your partner is likely going to want to seek you out.

In next weeks episode, I’ll share more about how my clients experienced a dramatic transformation in their connection. I will also be referencing another teaching tool from Lode Dewulf’s TED Talk, so that you have a better understanding of how to deal with pain in a more constructive manner.



Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 140: How Pain And Suffering Increase, And What To Do About It [TRANSCRIPT]

If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.

Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. It is important to know how to handle pain in relationship to create safety, allow more openness and connection in your relationship.

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Thank you!

(2) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Susanne sacco - Reply

    November 29, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    I love all of your podcasts Jessica! I am a therapist and use your podcasts for my clients and also for my own relationship! Wondering if a couple begins your program, do you “meet” with them each individually first? What other parts of the process are important for you?
    Thank you!

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      December 2, 2020 at 6:44 pm

      Hi Susan, Thank you for your comment and reaching out. I am so happy to hear you are finding the show helpful! When a couple is interested in getting support, I meet with them both for a free strategy session (consult to determine what their goals are, where they are getting stuck, how I might be able to help and to determine if we are a good fit). Then, I will often (but not always) meet with them for individual sessions before doing couples sessions. Usually, from here on out, it is couples work. However, sometimes upon request, I will do individual sessions. Although, I am careful to keep the individual time balanced, as to not develop more rapport with one partner. As skilled as we might be in staying neutral and supported to of both partner’s positions, I think it is important to keep the couples space as clean and clear as possible. Does this help?

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Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication.

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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching