I found myself recently reflecting on the idea that most of us tend to avoid emotional pain when it shows up in our lives, and as human beings, that’s quite often in the course of our lives. Avoidance is generally not a good idea when it comes to our inner world. These reflections came through me while I was interviewing the last guest on my show, Judith Barr, a therapist, about the roots and origins of violence, and as we unwound things over the hour, I had the realization that almost, if not all, of what we suffer in our lives long-term is due to our desire NOT to feel pain. As I write this, know that I’m speaking only of emotional pain, not physical. That’s a whole other post.
So I got to thinking about emotional pain in my life and realized that at some point along the way, years ago, I decided not to run away from the hurt when it showed up, and I literally made the choice to view pain as an old friend, as someone with a message for me, even a gift. And rather than run away from him (feel free to choose whatever gender you’d like to personify pain as!), I wanted to embrace him, to see what would happen if I stepped fully into my fear of how awful it feels and how it would destroy me if I let myself full on make love to pain.
What I discovered then all those years ago and continue to experience is that when I allow myself to just go straight into the hurt, make a beeline into pain’s embrace and let him hold me until I finish sobbing, or yelling, that sooner than later, I move out of his arms and back into the light of my own life. But I let myself be held there, in the hurt, in the feelings that put it all there; the past, the present, even the fear of the possible future, that all that holding on to avoid is unnecessary. You see pain is an old friend, and wants to help you, not hurt you.
This path of surrendering to what you are feeling, the good, the bad, the ugly, the painful, is a courageous and not easy path, but it is simple and highly effective. When my heart hurts (that’s usually where the pain stems from is our aching hearts), I literally will make time and space and a pot of tea for my dear friend pain to feel welcome. I put on music that takes me into my sadness, or madness, or whatever the case may be, and I go there, ALL THE WAY, and I don’t come out until I’m purged and feel freed.
Stop and think about this for a minute. When we avoid our feelings and stuff them, either in our mouths with food, or drugs or alcohol or sex, or extreme adventures, we are avoiding. Just because we are avoiding the pain doesn’t mean it’s not there. It is, very much so, and as you drive it underground, it gets stronger, as it’s trying to get your attention for a reason. Then as you avoid over the years, it becomes this heavy burden you are carrying around, year after year, and you’re still in pain. It seeps into your consciousness now and again, more and more as you try to pretend its non-existence, burying it deeper and deeper into the fabric of your subconscious, and slowly but surely it extinguishes your joy. It gets heavier and heavier as time goes by, putting literal weight on your body, your heart and your mind, when in reality, if you’d just been with him when he first showed up, it would be healed. Is it intense? Hell yeah. Is it worth it? More than I can ever convey with words.
So try it. The next time you find yourself hurting to the core, heart aching, filled with Pain. Invite him (or her) in, and have a cup of tea together. It will change your life, your perspective and your sense of what you are capable of dealing with. Most of all, you’ll have made a dear friend of an old enemy, and that, pure and simple, is healing.
And here’s the link to the latest episode of my show: http://contacttalkradio.net/CTR/ginacloud091312.mp3
Love & blessings,