I've been thinking a lot about pain -- my pain, my client's pain, my children's pain and pain in general. We fear pain, avoid it with good reason— it hurts. We shelter our loved ones from it -- sometimes stay in bad marriages to keep our children from feeling it. We ignore our pain to keep our partners and loved ones from having to shoulder it.
We go out of our way to avoid pain for ourselves and the people we care about. But does that help us? Help them? No. I don’t think so. I really think that’s the bullshit we tell ourselves when we are scared to hurt or worse, too scared to see people we care about hurt. And it leaves us disconnected from ourselves and from our loved ones because we are neglecting a huge piece of our experience and ourselves.
Pain can open doors to incredible joy and even transformation. Consider childbirth: women get pregnant knowing that the pain will be intense and they do it because the joy is worth it. Maybe all of life is that way, like childbirth. We dance around pain not wanting to risk rejection or failure, abandonment or disappointment. But the gravity of the pain we risk gives a deep value to the joy we open ourselves up to. Avoiding pain, avoiding vulnerability, only holds us back. Our growth is limited and contained when we are unwilling to risk pain.
We try to shield our children from it.
We pretend we don’t feel it.
And we tell ourselves that by doing this, we are happy.
Your pain is not a scary monster out to get you. It’s part of you and it is rich with meaning and value.
Embrace pain and it can empower, strengthen and fuel tremendous growth. Hide it, and it will show up in your body and scream silently wanting to be heard in ways that sabotage you. Learning to tolerate your pain and teaching your children to do the same is an incredible gift.
It is okay to cry sometimes. Allow space for pain and create space for growth and power. I believe in this. And laughter too. It may seem like another topic altogether but in my experience, it’s when we hurt that we most desperately need opportunities to laugh too.