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Ways to Overcome Emotional Pain - Mental Tools Print E-mail


The goal of this website is to give support to people who are facing problems in their relationship related to cheating, abuse and narcissism. I am living in Europe and English is not my native language, I wish you will excuse me if I make some grammatical errors. I decided to write in English because I wish to reach as many people as I can around the world.



Dealing With Emotional Wounds

If one gets physically wounded, one knows what to expect. If a dog bites us, we feel the pain. It helps us to deal with the pain when we know exactly what has caused our pain. We also know that after a while the intensity of the pain will go down. We know this because we have experienced similar situations earlier in our life. We have injured ourselves many times. We all have hit our toe to a sharp edge and felt the piercing pain that follows. We all know that the intensity of the pain will decrease after couple seconds.

It is a different situation with emotional pain. When one does not see the wound it is difficult to judge the nature and seriousness of one's condition. When we hit our toe, we feel strong pain, but we do not see blood, so we know the situation is not (necessarily) serious, even though there is strong pain. When we feel hurt emotionally, there are no clear visible marks either. So we tend to think our wounds are not very serious in physiological sense. However, we do feel strong pain, which conflicts with the fact that there are no visible signs of injury.


Often one does not fully understand the nature of emotional pain, and hence cannot estimate how serious mental wounds are and predict how long the pain is going to last. Instead one receives conflicting information regarding one's condition. This makes emotional pain dangerous. To read more about how to get over emotional pain due to problems in a relationship by teaching the brain and the mind to overcome negative emotions, please visit page Recovery After Cheating and Narcissism.

Emotional wounds can be very deep and take long time to heal. It makes situation worse if one is underestimating the seriousness of one's condition and tries to deny the existence of the mental wounds. It is often difficult for others around the wounded person to help, because it is not always easy to see the seriousness of one's condition. We are often capable of fooling others very skillfully with our behavior. We smile and laugh even though we hurt inside.

Understanding the biological basis of emotional pain

It is important to understand that one can influence one's emotions with one's own behavior. If one dwells in sadness and stays in bed all day long, one can be sure that one shall feel miserable. But if one instead forces oneself to laugh and make jokes, towards the end of the day one starts to feel better. Why does this happen? Let us examine this question in more detail.

Laughing, jokes and smiling usually follow the release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are related to regulation of the mood. As a result of the fact that these events (laughing and release of certain neurotransmitters) usually occur in the same time, an association is created between the events. In this context "association" refers to physiological linking between these events. To read more about this topic, please visit page Controlling Emotions. Let me now explain why associations are useful tools when one is trying to get over cheating or any other traumatic event in life.

Conditioning - Tool to teach the brain to work in a new way

A good example that helps to understand the nature of associations is the famous case of Pavlov's dogs, an example that is nowadays used in all basic neuroscience textbooks. Pavlov was a scientist who among other things studied a phenomena called conditioning. In his studies Pavlov utilized the fact that dogs salivate when they smell the food. In the beginning of his experiment Pavlov always rang a bell just before he gave food to his dogs. He repeated this many times and soon dogs learned to associate the ringing of the bell with the food, and started to salivate when they heard the bell even if there was no scent of food present.

This is a good example of conditioning. Salivating is a physiological process that is not under voluntary control. In Pavlov's experiment he was able to create a physiological link between a certain physiological process (secretion of saliva) and a certain stimuli (ringing of the bell). As a result of this coupling dogs were conditioned to salivate when they heard the bell.

Same thing happens if we dwell on negative thoughts and emotions after finding out about cheating and betrayal. If we do not break the negative feedback cycle, eventually it is very difficult to let go of anger and hurt. For example, if the Lover of our husband has red hair, whenever we see a woman with red hair we feel strong pain, because we are reminded of the betrayal. In order to heal after cheating we must learn to break this cycle. To read about this topic in more detail, please visit page Controlling Emotions.

Overcoming emotional pain - Scientific approach

Two different functions can be coupled in neuronal level in such a way that if one or the functions gets "activated", that triggers also the other function that is associated with it. In neuronal level this triggering works in both directions. A good example of this is an association between the name and the face of a person. When we see a picture of our friend Bob, we often think of his name (even if we do not actively think of the name, we can retrieve it from our memory whenever we want). Visual stimuli (picture of Bob) is strongly coupled with auditory stimuli (Bob's name). When one of the stimuli is presented to us, that activates certain neuronal networks that are related to the other stimuli. This is possible because there is strong physiological association between these two functions (recollection of name and face).

Previous example makes it easier to understand why one's mood starts to improve if one laughs, smiles and makes jokes even though one is hurting inside. There is a strong association between the release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain and laughing and smiling. When we feel happy, certain neurotransmitters are released in our brain, triggering laughter and smile. Due to association between these two processes, when one smiles and laughs (for long enough), the biochemistry in one's brain starts to change towards the state in which the brain normally is when person is happy. In a way we can "fool" our brain to think we are happy and hence release neurotransmitters that are present in our system when we are genuinely happy. Release of these happiness-related neurotransmitters in the brain makes us feel better.

Of course it is clear to everyone that if we feel extremely sad, no matter how much or for how long we laugh, we shall not feel perfectly good. But we do feel better. That is the most important thing. We need to take small steps before we can take big ones. To read more about how to get over emotional pain caused by cheating and narcissism in a relationship, please visit page Recovery After Cheating and Narcissism.

- Maria

If you wish to submit your own story and get feedback and support for your situation or if you wish to contact me for any other reason, send me email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Comments (27)
  • Jan molosiwa  - Cheated
    :angry-red: my girlfriend cheated on me and when a confront her she denies it totaly and late at night she get private calls and when i ask her she does not want to tell me please help i dont know what to do
  • Mary  - hope for you
    Listen carefully, GOD loves you. Find a Bible and read John 3:16.

    Your parents need to know this too.

    I pray that the eyes of your heart will see & receive the truth. It will save your soul.

    Love and Prayers.
  • lace  - cheating all over again
    i do not know how to get over again, 4 years ago,my husband has told me that he has a daughter out of marriage and he told me that he has been sorry for this, for cheating on me and promised not to do it again. A year later, he is telling me again that he has another daughter of different girl, i fell depressed and do not know how to give trust in him, well i say i forgive him, and afraid of loosing him because i love him, and he say that he is sorry for all the wrongs that he had made. but now i caught him texting another girl, flirting in his text saying i love u's, it sucks me and do not know how to move on for cheating over and over.
  • Sue
    I doubt there is anything that anyone can say that will make that pain go away right now. What I will say is if someone else is causing you that pain, it's time to concentrate 100% of yourself. You can't spare any energy for them. If the person you are with is a narcissist, they won't have a clue you are hurting, it's the way they are. You need to be with people who care about you and can give support. It will pass
  • tee  - my spirit is so down
    I am seriously passing through emotional trauma in my relationship and i don't know what to do.
  • Peanut
  • Tzo zo  - Its possible to hate ur parents
    at the age of 8 i witnest my parents devorse and straight after that they went to war, i was caught in the middle of two people who hated eachother, in the years that followed till i was 12 my mother took out her stress on me (physically abused me) i ran to my father at the of 13 because the beatings wer getting more and more dangerous, soon after moving in with my father he started changing women infront of my eyes like nothing, i lost all concentration at school because of the confusion, then suddenly my father changed telling me an showing me how much he doesnt care about me, keep in mind that both my parents studied phsycology and my father told me i would kill myself 1 day. but question is if he knew how come he ddnt prevent it. i am the only child at home. i have no one to talk to and wish i could afford a therepist because i really need help. I hate my father with all my heart and hope that 1 day he feels the pain he caused me, as for my mother il let god deal with her, its difficult to understand how my parents taught me how possible it is to hate a person. i hate them, and the pain will never go away just like the memories
  • andres porras  - somethin to make you smile
    i have been through many things with my parents to but i just wanted to write a reply to you to let you know that i read yur comment and it almost brought tears but i just wanted to reply to show you that people do care and i hope this puts a smile on yur face. just rmeember you control yur own fate :D :D :D
  • Nicole
    I have only been married 6 years, but have been on again, off again with my husband for 25 years - my entire adult life. Last year, I found out he had cheated - though in his mind, he really didn't 'cheat' - he just kissed this woman and exchanged texts filled with wanting for her. I kicked him out, but we tried to make it work 3months after he left. Probably my biggest mistake. When we first got back together, we really seemed to both make an effort to be together, to connect with each other. However, he got into some legal trouble (he told me it was a mistaken identity - I was stupid enough to believe him), but the truth eventually came out. I couldn't handle all the lying and asked him to leave a month ago. About a week later, I found him with this woman at our old home, the one he had only 'kissed'. We cried, screamed, etc. and he vowed not to see her again because we still had a chance for our marriage. Two weeks later, I drive over there, 12 o'clock at night, and she's over. They're 'just talking' and I have no right to question him. I actually attacked her and would have done some serious harm if he hadn't pulled me off of her. I have never hit anyone in my life. He says he loves me, but I know if you love someone, you wouldn't pursue another relationship. He says he just needs a friend, someone he can talk to because he's so lonely, and obviously he can't talk to me. I am torturing myself with the desire to drive by, see if she's there. I am torturing myself with picturing them together. His manipulation of me for years has really done a number on me. In all other areas in my life, I come off as an intelligent, professional, and humorous woman. We have 3 daughters together. I am trying to be a good role model for them, trying to not let my bitterness affect them. And it feels like this pain will never stop. I'm on a roller coaster of "I hate the bastard" and "I can't live without him".
  • Sue  - Low self esteem
    It's very hard to get your head around it when it hurts so much when he cheats. What I've come to understand with my husband is that because his Mommy Dearest left him with zero self esteem, no matter how much I loved him, it wasn't enough. Each time a woman as much as smiled, she loved him,so desperate is he. It's a nightmare, and recently I had to dump a friend who thought he'd given her the come on and started to stalk him. Some friend! He's recently been caught out chasing a female colleague who is the same age as our daughter. She's slept with the boss and uses men to get on. He can't see the difference between real interest and flattery that is just based on ambition.
    These men are very sad and lonely inside.
    That said, they will continue to hurt us because they don't know anything else. Guess it boils down to can you live with that, accept it or is it time to walk away?
  • duane
    i found my wife doing the same thing........after two years of trying to work things out, i finally realised that it's best fro us to go seperate ways. my two daughters have settled with our decision because now there is no tension at home. i know the feeling of can't live with a spouse and can't live without, but in time you will realise that moving on is the best decision one couls make in a relationship that has endless problems , especially where there is dishonesty . take care
  • sufiyogi  - It is so difficult to find a reason to live
    Hello there, My wife cheated me and our two sons. She was the first girl in my life and I deeply identified myself with her over 11yrs of marriage and 14yrs of relationship and we had two lovely sons over a period of 11 yrs of married life, post our 3yrs of full fledged pre-marital affair. When I went on Job to London her boss gave her five star treatment at the cost of the company and she fell for it and he promoted her growth in the company. I came back to see that she dumped the kids at her moms place and was going around with her boss for days together in the name of job. I didn't know what to do how to react, I was shattered , she threatened me with female favorable courts and laws and forced a mutual consent divorce from me and gave off the kids to my custody and took the visiting rights and she occasionally gifts the kids or calls them. Now she indirectly posts me with her honeymoon with her boss,( even he divorced his wife and left his son now). Now they go around some of the exotic places in the country for honeymoon. After hearing about their honeymoon spots, I involuntarily attach pain to those temples and naturally scenic places. Now, to give stability to kids I married a lady who was ditched by her husband. It is so difficult to be genuinely happy, every good experience turned in to a bitter heart rending experience. Outwardly I am doing OK but there is lot of vengence inside. I am handsome, well educated and hail from a very well known family. I have become some sort of a psychological wreck and financially hand to mouth, I tend to seduce married women involuntarily. I dont know what to do why to live...all people advise from outside live for your sons *( 12, 9 and 6 (adopted)). I am 39 and sexually becoming very restless my present wife has her own baggage about sex... will there be peace in my life. is there peace & love in life again? HOW TO LIVE ....god help me!
    I had a partner in the early '90s. He was nice, but a little insecure. Not a man that I could trust at all. A real weasel. In the end it didn't work and I bought a ring from the jeweler and vowed that I would never make the same mistake again. He was still living with his ex when we were dating. I regret that I do not have more money, and that I did not complete my education properly, but I never regret not having a man in my life. You can live without it. I have had men attempt to court me. I do a complete credit check on the guy before I get too close and I have always found them to be a substandard investment. So I have never ever led any of them on.
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