Pain is Necessary

 In America

I believe that we can choose to feel emotions that serve us by deciding how we want to think about the circumstances we face. Yet, there are times when we just need to feel pain because that is the appropriate and unavoidable response to life. Before we can move on to new feelings we must honor the pain and allow it work its way through us. This means being willing to be uncomfortable and not to seek ways to escape it–either through food, alcohol, drugs, tv, shopping, etc. What we resist, persists.

Sometimes unprocessed and unacknowledged pain can manifest as anger, causing us to behave in ways that we later regret. Anger is also an uncomfortable feeling so we’re often driven to “get rid of it” by expressing it to the source we believe is causing it. Yet unless we are truly behaving as an emotional adult by speaking calmly and logically, we’re more likely to lash out in a destructive manner. 

However if we allow ourselves to feel the underlying pain and/or sadness, we will ultimately move through it and arrive at an inner state that can generate actions that are productive instead of destructive. The way to do this is to watch and notice the feeling. Even tell yourself “I am processing pain” without trying to explain it or fix it. Notice any desire to react, resist and avoid. Remind yourself that pain is part of the journey of being human and that it’s okay.
As thoughts come to you during this process it can be very helpful to write them down. The more we can see our thoughts instead of just experiencing as they flash through our brain, the more conscious we become. Notice how each thought either contributes to the feeling of pain or generates anger: This shouldn’t be happening to me; I deserve better than this; how dare he/she say/do this to me after all I’ve done for them; this isn’t fair; why can’t I get what I want; I want to make him pay. All of these thoughts arise in reaction to the reality we are dealing with–however, they do not necessarily serve us as more and more time passes.

As you start recognizing the thoughts behind the pain, you can then decide if you’re willing to consider other thoughts that can contribute to emotional healing. Thoughts like: Nothing has gone wrong here; I have much to learn by staying open to this; other people are who they are even if I don’t like it; it was always going to happen this way for my highest good. These self-compassionate and self-loving thoughts give you a pathway out of pain and anger, once you are truly ready to go there. Until then, give yourself lots of time and space to honor the pain you feel. It will transform you into a stronger, wiser and more compassionate human being.
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