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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

The Value of Mental and Emotional Pain

Of course I don’t like feeling pain. When I’m in the midst of my mind spiraling with fearful thoughts (which is mental and emotional pain for me), it is maddening. It consumes me.

An abstract painting of a teal spiral with lots of chaos around it.
"Spirals of Thought" Acrylic Painting by Jackie Schuld

I tend to get lost in spirals of thought when I’m aware there’s a problem, but I’m unsure of how to solve it. My mind wants to rework it over and over and over.

Like when I had 40 therapy clients on my caseload and was exhausted. I was aware there was a problem, but I wasn’t sure how to resolve it.

I was full of angst, which led to me researching. I didn’t have many people to turn to at the time (most of my friends weren’t therapists or were similarly exhausted therapists), so I turned to books, podcasts, and articles.

It’s what led me to therapist Tiffany McClain, who spoke directly to what I was feeling as a therapist. She offered a paid program to help therapists change their practices so they weren’t exhausted.

It was wonderful. And it was birthed from my pain.

That is the value of our pain. Our emotions are valuable messengers. When we listen and honor them, we embark on new journeys that provide new ways of being and healing.

When I joined Tiffany’s community and considered raising my prices so I could lower my caseload, I was overcome with old messages about my worth. What does it mean if I don’t help everyone? Am I a bad person if I don’t have a sliding scale? (I think these are questions many therapists hold and I address them in my essays on The Invisible Therapist and Martyrdom Mentality).

Again, great pain had come up. I could have ignored the pain or held it at bay. Instead, I sat with each of these questions. Some I took the community. Some I took to my therapist. Some I journaled my way through. But I got to the bottom of them and it led to great personal insight and healing of limiting beliefs I had held my entire life (it’s one of the reasons I think that entrepreneurs make great therapy clients).

Now, I have a small caseload of clients, lots of time to rest and enjoy my life, and income that supports my life. It is amazing.

I’m glad I listened to the exhaustion. I’m glad I looked into my fears. I’m glad I listened to the pain.

When we’re in the middle of something painful, it can be difficult to see how it could possibly benefit our lives. But it can, if we use it as motivation to look at what needs to change and how we can do it.


Do you need assistance discovering what your pain is telling you?

I work with therapy clients on just that.


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