Wendy's Blog

Rate Your Pain, Win a Prize!

A dear friend of mine just went back to his wife after months of painful separation. He said, “I feel guilty about leaving an ill person.”   But her illness is a mental one: she’s a hoarder and a compulsive gambler.  She refuses to get help, even though her behaviors are ruining the family and his personal future happiness. They are both suffering because of failure to manage their feelings.

Addictive behaviors occur when we don’t address the emotions that drive them.  Unresolved pain, grief, anger, and prolonged sadness are emotions that must be handled before they distort into life-damaging addictions.

But how? 

One thing that works is to “Rate Your Pain“.  Next time something unpleasant bubbles up inside of you, don’t shove it away thinking you’re being strong.  Don’t reach for your drug of choice – food, substances, cigarettes, mind-numbing hours watching TV, work, excessive volunteering or whatever it is.  Just follow this simple recipe for healing and you’ll be surprised how fast and how well it works.


Managing Your Emotions Effectively:

1. Go somewhere you can be alone.  Worst case: the bathroom.  Best case: lie down somewhere comfortable.

2. Think about how you’re feeling. Not the incident that triggers the feeling, but the feeling itself.  Name the feeling – are you sad? angry? scared? guilty? lonely? something else?

3. Now rate it on a scale of 1-10.  How BAD are you feeling?  Maybe not compared to the worst day of your life, but compared to the average days of your life.

4. Shut your eyes. Breathe in and out a few times.  Don’t judge yourself, don’t yell at yourself that you shouldn’t be responding this way, don’t give in to pushing it away with an addiction, a rash decision like my friend did, or compulsive behavior.  Just breathe slowly – four or five times.

5. Rate your feeling again.  Has it subsided? Has it gone completely away? If not, do steps three and four again.


The cool thing about feelings is that they are like storm clouds rolling fast across the plains.  By focusing on how you are really, truly feeling, you allow your brain and body to synchronize and release that energy.  The BIG prize is control over your life and emotional equilibrium again.

Depending on the issue, you may be fine for the rest of the day, or you may be back to rating your feelings in another 20 minutes.  It’s not like a chore you can cross off your To-Do List forever.  Rating your feelings is learning how to allow yourself to be yourself, to be in the moment, to do and feel and live what’s real for you.


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  1. My pain is hard to deal with sometimes but I also have to remember there are others that have been throw things I am going throw and if they can get throw it I can too. My mom passed away five years ago and it still hurts every day but she is with God and I know that I will see her again someday. I have to also remember to look for the good in my pain so I can win over it.

    • Melanie, lost my dad 20 yrs ago and my mom a year this june and yes i do think of dad every day almost still and mother last year really hurt big time, i still miss the phone calls 4-5 times a week and hearing her voice terribly as we lived so far apart the last 10 years and visits annually, i think what hurts the most is that we will never ever see then again in the life we know, but you know after dad 20 yrs gone he is with me everyday, all the memories and the good and bad times will live with me forever and so gratefull for that , and mother will always be as close to me as dad and will cherish them untill the day i join them and have no choice to accept this is the way of live, we all have our turn with the cycle and am honored to have such great parents.

  2. That was amazing!!!!!!! Deff a god send bc I for one am a hot head and get angry to quickly and make rash decisions. I bookmarked this on my phone (:

  3. Linda Moberg says:

    This sounds like a great idea! Many times I have become frustrated and tense and it can cause conflict within the family, friends, or even yourself. Taking a break and trying to understand how you truly feel is an amazing idea! This way you can see and possibly learn to deal with it in the future. Too many times arguments or spats occur because of other things in our life at the time. Health is one, feeling like you aren’t doing what you should, or not wanting to take responsibility for things. There are always other reasons, but those are a few. I am definately going to try this one!

  4. My pain at the moment is 12 out of 10. Today my boyfriend the father of my 2 year old and almost one yr old. Told me he was leaving me for a 27 year old he hes only known a few weeks. He says it’s my fault I pushed him away. He is an abusive cheater and this has happened on more than one ocassion.
    I met him years ago and he told me the same story he is telling this woman. He talks of abusing his ex a little and promises to never do it to you.
    He is English and I am American, I came back to America in 2009 because we were supposed to get married and sort out paperwork. He just abandoned us here with at the time one year old and pregnant with our second child.
    I almost had to go to a homeless shelter and he went back to his ex in December of 2010. He kept calling me and telling me he loved me on and off.
    He promised to marry me again my sister even bought me a dress. He has mentally screwed my head up so bad. I don’t know how to stop loving him how to let him go.
    I try tips like this and they work in the moment but not in the long run.
    Please help me if you can

    • Dear T,

      Please, please order the free ebook in the upper right hand corner of this page! It’s the only thing I can give you that I know will help.

      When you are in the raw stages, it helps to write down your pain; to talk to trusted friends; and to be extra gentle with yourself and the kids.

      Believe it or not, in time you’ll see his departure was the best thing that could have happened for you and for them.

      Many good wishes to you!


    • T-

      I have been the 27 year old in your situation, unfortunately. Consider yourself lucky that you and your children will have a new life without him. As the woman that ended up with that kind of man, he will get his own karma and share it with her. We pay a penance for these mistakes. Your gift will be the chance at a new, better life. It hurts in the beginning sooo sooo bad, but one day, the clouds will part and the sun will come put when you realize that you can breathe and you don’t need to answer to him anymore.

      Take Care,


  5. This really works plus there are many other coping skills that work…I have learned to express myself saying “I FEEL…..”some people just don’t understand pain or that they need to come to understand that we all need to learn new ways of coping….I would also recommend to those of you who want new coping skills to buy an exercise book called DBT(dialectal behavour therapy) many more suggestions for coping skills…It really does work if you put it to use…good luck everyone it takes some time to learn and put to use but it does work!! Another book suggest is “I hate you – don’t leave me” understanding the Borderline Personality……

    May god be with you all and guide you in your troubles

  6. There are reasons that we all go through difficult times and have emotional pain. These difficult times help us to grow into a wiser person and to understand life a little better.
    I went through the one of the most difficult times in my 55 years. I felt that I was in a fishbowl looking out at the World. This lasted for 2 years as I felt I was in shock of disbelief of what had happened to me by being betrayed by a person I thought would love me forever. During those 2 years, I went through many transactions, although I didn’t see them at the time. At first, I had all of the emotions of anger, denial and deep sadness. I cried constantly. I was all alone and thought I was going crazy. I knew I had to reach out to help me. I was so used to doing things for others, I decided to start doing things for myself. I read books on my situation, I listened to self- help cds, I went to Church, I joind some self-help Groups and I had a special place in the park that I went to every eve after work to just sit and listen to God. Slowly, I started to heal. After a few years of focusing on me, it seemed like I had been in a cacoon and wanted to fly free like a butterfly. And fly, I did. I had never been more happier with my life. I feel finally balanced.
    For some unknown reason, I had to go through what I did to be where I am today. I kept telling myself,”This too, shall pass”. Eventually it did.
    It may not take 2 years to get through your own ordeal, as every situation is different, but you WILL GET THROUGH IT.

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