How do you treat mental pain? How do you find psychological health?
Treating mental illnesses (passions) is completely different from treating bodily illnesses. In physical illnesses it is necessary to prevent illness and caress the sore by means of soft cures, warm water, warm poultices etc., but mentally sick illnesses are not like that: if illness has attacked you, pay no attention to it, at all caress it, do not pander to it, do not bruise it, but beat it, crucify it, do absolutely contrary to what it asks for.
The Venerable Silouan of Athos (1866-1938)
It is good to learn to live according to the will of God. Then the soul is constantly abiding in God and is very peaceful.
Hieromonk Peter (Seregin) (1895-1982).
It often happens that even with good material security and good relations to us by our neighbors our heart gnaw sins and passions as fierce snakes. But if we have recourse to spiritual and moral means, if we get rid of pride and conceit, and are freed from vanity, envy and anger, displeasure and the lusts of the flesh that engender them, our inner life under the influence of God’s grace is purged from irritability, fear and sinful anxiety, and God’s peace shines upon our souls, we feel joy in the Lord.
The chains of sin are loosened, and some fall away altogether, and we feel quite happy, in the fullness of life, in spite of various external material and other worldly conditions.
Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk (1724-1783)
Holy Scripture is a spiritual pharmacy, in which the kindhearted Father in Heaven has hidden healing remedies for our sake. We have infirmities, afflictions, and diseases of many kinds in our souls, and therefore we require many kinds of healing, which we find all in the Holy Scriptures. There, with the help of the Holy Spirit, who spoke through the prophets and apostles, everyone can find healing for his infirmities: consolation for the sorrowful, reason and confirmation for the doubting, instruction and knowledge for the ignorant. There is hidden counsel for the perplexed, reason for the ignorant, and comfort for the sorrowful.
If a man has willfulness, self-confidence and self-will, then, even if he is smart, even seven heights in the forehead, he will suffer all the time. He gets confused, binds himself hand and foot, and has problems. To find his way, he must open his heart to a confessor and humbly ask him for help. Some, however, go to a psychiatrist instead of a confessor. If the psychiatrist turns out to be a believer, he will lead them to a confessor. And an unbelieving psychiatrist will confine himself to giving them some pills. However, the pills themselves do not solve the problem.
Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk (1724-1783)
A novice believer can be likened to the infirm who, seeing his incurable illness, desires and seeks a skillful physician. Thus a sinner, seeing through the law his own sinful infirmity, from which he cannot free himself in any way by his own strength, desires and seeks a physician who will be able to free him from that infirmity.
The schema Zosima (XVII-XIX cc.)
Whether one is dead by godlessness or sin, who can raise him up? The word of God, which is life. Is anyone lost in the darkness of heresy or in the way of a depraved life, who can enlighten him or turn him to the way of salvation? The word of God, which is light and truth. Is any man sick in his soul: the word of God for healing. Is he hard in heart? The Word of God mollifies him. Is he a sinner in despair? The word of God draws him to repentance. Is he afflicted with tribulation or temptation? The word of God is his consolation, his admonition, and his strength.
Hierarch Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow (1783-1867)
Nothing a man needs as much as faith. On it depends not only the bliss of future life, but also the well-being of present life.
Physician Sergei Apraksin (XIX-XX centuries)
Poor man! Instead of saying to him “think about the causes of your nervousness, fill your spiritual emptiness with faith and trust in God, develop a different attitude toward life with all its sorrows and joys,” they tell him “you are sick, go and get treatment,” and so the poor man runs or goes to doctors, to seek salvation from his mental illness.
Here the question is solved mostly very simply: the word “neurasthenia” is pronounced, a comprehensive word, though it does not express anything definite (and the patient thinks that his illness is understood), and the usual treatment begins…
This way usually several years passes (sometimes a whole life), until finally the exhausted person understands that the nervous “I cannot”, under the influence of different kinds of factors is easily transformed by the person himself into “I can”…
The most irritable person, caught during a family scene, for example, by a stranger who knows little, quickly restrains himself, turns “can’t” into “can”. He who cannot tolerate objections from his subordinates because of nervousness, pretends to be a meek lamb when he himself gets carried away by his superiors. In short, various kinds of effects: shame in front of people, fear for their official position, passionate love and other factors easily turn nervous “can not” in the “can”.
So, there is always that lever in us, which we are ready to turn ourselves over, just need to want to use it and not let it out of our hands. And it is only when the man, exhausted by the eternal cure and all the other unpleasant consequences of his ailment, realizes that the remedy for his nervousness is in himself, and not in the numerous vials which he had previously emptied in abundance and to no avail, only then, having given up all treatment, does he finally, with God’s help, achieve little by little or a complete, or at least a relative, but a lasting cure…
The problem is that we care too much about the development of the external senses, from sight to taste, and too little about the development of the mind, which is called in the prayers “mental eyes,” “mind and eyes of the heart, which are for salvation. These “eyes” are given to man by God for the knowledge of great truths…
The fact that our faith is very weak, that our attitude toward life is the most impossible, of course, is mostly to blame for our upbringing, but every adult can re-educate himself and develop a right Christian view of life, if he uses the means indicated by the Church for this purpose. Of these means, the most important is prayer. There are few unbelievers, most of them are of little faith, so with this seed of faith begin to pray, and you will soon feel that this seed will begin to sprout, and after a while it will give a seedling, from which over time a mighty tree will grow. Under the canopy of this tree it will be easy and pleasant to rest from the heavy heat of human passions and the storm of worldly adversity, and in due course you will reap the fruit.
Begin only to pray, and faith itself will come to you, and if it was weak, it will strengthen and little by little, gradually change the attitude to life. Prayer will distract you, at least for a while, from the usual worldly thoughts and interests, will attract the mind to the heavenly, will make you involuntarily think about what before you almost did not think about, will make you feel a lot and with the grace of God will change your former way of thinking, will root faith and aspiration to the Christian ideal. Healing from the grave and sad spiritual ailment of lack of faith, prayer, combined with strict obedience to the church regime, can help us greatly with bodily ailments as well. We have seen how useful prayer combined with trust and faith in God is in certain nervous conditions, which are based on spiritual emptiness and weakness of will…
Life shows us numerous examples where a nervous person, who has been treated for several years without any result, soon reaches a complete or at least a relative but firm recovery after turning to God and beginning to live by the rules of the Church. I, at least, know of several such examples, and I think that no one else knows of many. And in other nervous ailments the importance of the above factors is not insignificant. Take, for example, the notorious brain fatigue, which is given by modern medicine a prominent place among other causes of modern nervousness. It turns out that the intense work itself rarely causes a steady nervous disease, but dangerous only when combined with vices and passions of man …
Here is what on this occasion says Professor Shtrumpel: “… We see therefore that to the exhaustion of the nervous system, constituting the essence of neurasthenia, leads mainly to the mental work of people, accompanied by anxieties of fear and hope, the mental stress of the politician, constantly worried passionate struggle parties, finally, the efforts of mind of those artists and scientists, tireless ambition that encourages them to keep up with the competition.
It follows that faith and the attitude to life, to wealth, fame, ambition, etc., which flows from it, is also a powerful prophylactic…
The best preventive measure is to educate the younger generation on strictly religious and moral principles. The main task of education (in the family and at school) should be the striving to bring up in the child’s soul the fear of God and true love for God
When the disease has developed, the best remedy is prayer. It is necessary to pray every day in the morning and in the evening, reading the morning and evening rule, at least in a somewhat abbreviated form, with attention, trying to penetrate into the meaning of each word.
In addition, read daily those selected passages from the Gospel and the Apostle, which are read on the corresponding day at the church service. Do not disregard the public worship services, but go to the temple of God, at least on feast days and Sundays (All-Night and Mass), choosing the temple where the service is more beautiful, and most importantly, where the readings are legible and the service is not hurried.
Pray at least once a year. Observe the fasts and all the other decrees of the Church, bearing in mind that they were created by great men, who understood human nature far better than the most eminent contemporary sages. By all other means: by meditation, by soul-saving conversation, by reading the writings of the great Fathers of the Church, try to strengthen faith in oneself, to cultivate in one’s soul an awareness of all the beauty of the Christian ideal and to develop a Christian attitude toward the phenomena of life…
Remember that during the first period of such a life, a second source of thought will certainly open up in you, with greater or lesser force, evil, contradictory, seductive thoughts, creating a whole series of “temptations” of a certain kind. We must not yield to it, but pray persistently, with hope and patience, bearing in mind the following words of the Savior from the parable of the unjust judge: “Hear what the unjust judge says. Will God not defend His own elect who cry out to Him day and night, though He is slow to defend them?
How to Deal with Heartache
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Life, for the most part enjoyable, has both white and black stripes. The sun shines in a world where there is both good and evil. Pain is an essential part of life. Don’t think that you are the only one who suffers. We all understand that physical pain goes away once the medicine has taken effect. It takes time. We are not always ready to understand that mental pain does not go away overnight: it also takes time.
There is no need to treat what is normal. Temporary heartache can be caused by a number of things: the death of a loved one or having to get over a breakup with someone, cruelty from other people. When this happens to you, take it as a given: that you feel hurt or angry for a while. Face the truth: If someone close to you dies, it is unlikely that anyone will remain indifferent to what has happened. If you love someone and that person hurts you, it is normal to feel pain. There is no cure for such a condition. It’s normal to feel pain for a while
They say that if you are mad, you are offended, you have been insulted or hurt, etc., it is your fault. This is not true. It just shows that people are cold and don’t show their emotions. They are indifferent to everything that is going on. If you feel heartache, then there is a reason for it. Most importantly, be selective about what you take personally. Get over your pain, but don’t make it the center of your life. In the future, you may be able to help someone else go through the same pain.
Don’t deny the pain. Pain is real. Pray or meditate. Give yourself time. You have to live through the pain, or you will never get rid of it. The only thing you can think about is when the pain will end, but only by living the pain can you get through it. You can run away from the pain by saving your work, but you must leave yourself time to think about what happened: you shouldn’t deny the pain.
Determine how you feel. Are you heartbroken? Or are you angry? Maybe you feel guilty? Abandoned? Are you afraid of something? You need to clearly identify what feeling you are experiencing. This will help you deal with the pain.
Give the pain time: be patient. What cannot be cured with medicine can be cured with time. Sometimes when you think of mental pain as physical pain, you realize that pain takes time. When you think of your broken heart, think of it as a broken arm. A broken arm hurts terribly, even after a cast is put on. After a few days, it doesn’t hurt as much anymore. But if, months later, you hit the same spot, the arm can remind you of what it was, even more painful than it was when it was broken. You try not to bother her, but you can’t cut your arm off. That won’t make it hurt any less. You just have to endure the pain.
Talk to someone. You may feel like your pain is so bad that you can’t talk to anyone about it. You feel like no one will understand you. Or maybe the person you want to talk to doesn’t share the same opinion with you about what hurt you. Maybe they don’t care about your partner you broke up with, maybe they don’t know your friend, maybe they don’t really understand what you’re talking about. But being understood isn’t the most important thing right now. The important thing is that your family and your friends love you. They see that you feel bad and want to help. Sometimes, all you have to do is talk about how you feel, talk about how bad you feel, and the pain will start to go away. Just because someone hugs you and tells you, “It’s going to be okay,” won’t make the pain go away, but it will make you feel like you’re not alone. Knowing that there is someone there for you already helps.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your feelings aren’t real. They are real, they are important. They are your feelings. If you feel sad, it doesn’t mean you will never be happy. Think your thoughts, live your feelings, but remember that they are only thoughts and feelings.
Try not to think about how bad you feel. You can feel sorry for yourself for no more than 10 minutes. Then go ahead. No exceptions. Go out with friends. Make a promise to yourself that you won’t talk about your pain for more than a few minutes, nothing will change anyway. Don’t let your friends talk about it for too long. You go on with your life. For a little while, forget about your pain. If you’re going through someone’s death or a breakup with a loved one, try to just live through that pain so it goes away faster. It doesn’t mean that you have forgotten about the pain and go on living without it. It just means that everyone needs a break. Give your heart peace, let your heart let the light and love that you get from seeing friends or doing an activity that brings you pleasure. You will still have time to cry, but not now.
Allow time to heal you. This is the hardest part. You will have to have patience for the wounds to heal. There is nothing left for you to do but…wait. Time requires only one thing: let it work. In order for the heartache to become a memory, you have to live it.
Don’t let the pain overwhelm you. Remember that you have both a future and a past. You are stronger than the pain. You need to understand that. This is just another episode in life that will pass.
Write a letter. When you write, you can better make sense of your feelings. Use positive messages more often instead of negative ones. If you don’t write, talk to someone about your feelings: someone close to you or a doctor. No need to make excuses, just talk and listen to what you are told.
Stay away from saying that someone is to blame. You are responsible for your actions, both good and bad, but you shouldn’t blame anyone. There is no such question: who is to blame?
Work out your line. Life teaches you lessons, learn from it. People who have a smooth life, very difficult to bear bad times, because they do not know how to cope with difficulties. Everything your life presents you with, even pain, teaches you to develop certain qualities and skills that will help you cope with difficulties in the future. No matter what happens, everything is for the best: you become stronger.
Write a gratitude list. Write all the things you are thankful for: both having nice clothes, having a roof over your head, then think about people. Thank those who care about you and thank life for just the good things in your life. Being thankful is natural, and it will help heal your wounds.
If the pain doesn’t go away for more than a week or you’ve lost hope or you’re thinking about suicide then you may have some unresolved personal issues inside. In this article, we discussed a healthy approach to getting through the pain. Sometimes, as children, we don’t want to take the right advice. In other words, when we are younger, we tolerate pain more easily. Often this is because we find freedom from pain more easily. But if what has happened is negatively affecting your life and you can’t get out of the impasse on your own, get help to understand, think about and accept what has happened.