Inspired by a comment made by a friend on her facebook page, I wanted to address the difficulty of finding a balance between self-soothing and running away from emotional pain. I also wanted to write about what it actually means to self-soothe.
Self-soothing is about allowing yourself to experience any uncomfortable emotions by using healthy techniques to comfort and restore balance. Successful self-soothing doesn’t mean that you make the feelings more intense. It means that you will eventually enable the emotions to pass. Self-soothing is about tolerating an uncomfortable experience, without acting in ways that are not helpful in the long run. This is when running away from emotional pain comes in. If you choose to block your emotions or run from them, this will then make the emotions grow in intensity or come out in ways you didn’t intend in the future.
Running away from emotional pain looks like the following:
- Compulsively drinking, smoking or self-medicating
- Using meaningless sexual encounters to numb emotional pain or fear of abandonment
- Compulsively working or keeping busy to avoid feeling
- Sleeping too much to avoid feeling
- Comfort or emotional eating – Eating too much sugar or fatty foods whenever you feel low
- Compulsively exercising
- Compulsively shopping
Do you see a pattern here? The more addictively or compulsively you do something, the more it means you are running away from what needs to be dealt with. It’s like an ostrich burying its head in the sand — just because you are hiding from everything and pretending everything is okay, does not mean that it will be okay.
We are all guilty of running away from our emotions. Sometimes they are just too painful to deal with and nobody wants to feel pain of any sort.
My biggest vice seems to still be comfort eating. I love my cakes & biscuits unfortunately, although apart from those, I generally eat a very balanced diet. Chain smoking used to be my biggest coping mechanism from the ages of 15-22 but I am so glad that I was able to quit.
Luckily, I have become better at self-soothing. I have realised that the more I deal with my emotions, the better I feel in the long term.
When feelings are dealt with head on, you talk about them, you cry, you blog about them, you ask a friend for support and you do something in that moment that will help you feel a little better, safer or comforted.
Self-soothing means that you wrap yourself in a blanket and play your favourite music. It means that you take yourself for a walk in nature. It means you find a quiet space in your home and you focus on breathing slowly and deeply and calming yourself down. It means that when you are feeling especially low, you read out some positive affirmations to help empower you. It means that you run a bath with your favourite oil or bath foam.It means that you engage in something creative. It means that you listen to your body.It means that you practice self-compassion and kindness to yourself. Self-soothing can be done using all 5 senses.
There are so many ways to self-soothe and everyone has different ways of doing so.
What is your experience?
Do you feel you are somewhere in the middle of self-soothing and running away from your problems or not?
Please share your experiences.
Thanks for reading
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