What to Do When You Can't Press Through Emotional Pain

What to Do When You Can’t Press Through Emotional Pain


I’ve been struggling emotionally. Personal frustrations, disappointments, and losses. Friends going through traumatic things. Being unable to help them. Unanswered questions of why and how come.

Frustration. Sorrow. Grief. Uncertainty. Confusion.

Pain. Pain. Pain. All different kinds.

It’s worse when they all coalesce. Meld together in complexity making them larger than they are alone.

I had trouble writing this week. Trouble focusing. Some days I could press through and get work done in spite of the emotional cloud. Other days not so much.


When I couldn’t press through

One of the days I couldn’t press through at all so I did a number of other useful things. Steven Pressfield would call this resistance but I knew it was deeper than that.

I needed to give myself grace, not condemnation. Grace to press through at my own pace.  Grace to embrace the pain I was feeling.

You need grace to embrace the pain.

You need grace to embrace the pain. Click To Tweet

What does it mean to embrace pain?

Alex Korb Ph.D. in an article on Psychology Today says this: Pain often causes us to dissociate from the present moment, to wish we were doing something else, experiencing something else. But pain only becomes suffering when we resist being in the present moment. When we embrace the present the pain becomes something else entirely.


We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. – Kenji Miyazawa


Burning the pain as fuel

One of the useful things I did was tend to the pile in my basement of my late mother in law’s belongings.

She died ten months ago. The pile was much bigger at the beginning. Family members have taken mementos they want to hold on to.

It’s been sitting in the middle of the basement floor silently speaking trauma ever since.

I was supposed to be getting rid of it because no one wanted what was left. But I had trouble getting rid of it.

Until this day I was doing useful things instead of writing. It became clear I needed the space it was occupying for something else so I had to embrace the pain and tend to it.


If you can sit with your pain, listen to your pain and respect your pain — in time you will move through your pain. ― Bryant McGill


So I sat with the pain and packed up the leftovers of useful things to donate. I threw away countless photos I already have copies of. I threw away an engraved beer stein that had belonged to my father in law who had passed years before. It helped me move through.


Power to press through

As I did this I was reminded of the gift of a story.

Before my mother in law passed I had a story flow out of me. This story helped me deal with the complex emotions that were submarining me at that time. Complex mixture of emotions were hard to deal with back then and still are today.

The story once again brought comfort to me and gave me the power to press through. The story of A Bird Named Payn.

I used to offer it free to new subscribers when I first started blogging. Many said I should publish it on Kindle and how it helped them. But I didn’t.

The voice of Steven Pressfield’s resistance held me back. The cover isn’t good enough. The story isn’t long enough. Not everyone understands the allegory. This is wrong with it and that is wrong with it. It’s not good enough. You’ll look stupid.

But the story itself gave me the power to press through.

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. - Kenji Miyazawa Click To Tweet

I’ve published it on Kindle and it’s once again available free to new subscribers.


Because it helps people. They’ve told me so.

It was not designed to be a best seller. It was designed to heal hearts.

The story is dedicated to my mother in law Ann who had Alzheimer’s. The story is about dealing with the unexpected complex emotions family members go through.

So whether you know someone with dementia or not I’m certain you’ve had to deal with complex emotions.


What next

Grab A Bird Named Payn here for Free

Buy A Bird Named Payn on Amazon

  • Share this with someone who needs it.
  • After you’ve read it please leave a review on Amazon.
  • How have you struggled? What helped you?



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4 thoughts on “What to Do When You Can’t Press Through Emotional Pain

  1. Thank you for sharing how you have been struggling emotionally in such a vulnerable way, Danielle!

    Again you inspire me.

    I, too, have been dealing with a lot of difficult situations recently, as have many I know. I’m feeling overwhelmed today with even more happening again today.

    May God bless in every way as you journey on.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, Colleen.
      I’m sorry you’re struggling too. I’m glad to hear I was of help though. Love and prayers to you my friend.

  2. Beautiful, Danielle! I have been thinking about using discomfort (including pain) as a mindfulness exercise. It was probably 15 years ago that I read about an extreme snowboarder who injured his knee. I can’t remember the circumstances of why, but he ended up finding a surgeon in Canada who performed the surgery in a hotel room. I don’t recall if it was illegal, too expensive or what, in the US. Not only did he go through the surgery without any anesthesia, but he assisted the surgeon for much of his own knee surgery! He said he used meditation and concentration to stay present and endure the pain.

    I think handled your own pain beautifully. I’m certain we all appreciate your fighting through it sharing with us how you did it.

    And I’m very happy that you finally published “A Bird Named Payn” on Kindle!

Please share your thoughts!