“Whether emotional or physical, pain is an emissary, a portal for the divine to wake up and bring soulful listening into your life.”
These words were in a handout of a recent training with some incredible teachers of mine and are very resonant with the approach that I take in therapy. Those with depression and anxiety generally have daily experiences with pain that resides in the core of their being. It seems to permeate all of our day to day activities, even those that could be joyful. It can be experienced in the mind as racing thoughts or hyper-vigilance or in the body as muscle tension, stomach aches or even physical heartache, or as profound sadness. While pain is often seen as a problem, and is certainly unpleasant, there is opportunity in it. Consider the following possibilities in pain:
Pain Can Be an Internal Call to Something Important
Sometimes our pain can simply be a wake up call. Frustration at work may mean there is a better one waiting for us. It could also mean we need to change our approach to a task. Anger in a relationship likely means we need to have a heart to heart conversation about some difficult topics. Loneliness can mean that we need to take some time out and nurture some relationships.
Pain Can Be a Portal for Healing
We are often triggered by an event into pain, most often by a relationship or undesirable life circumstance. It could be a partner who isn’t paying attention to us, a promotion we didn’t get, or a health issue. These are all normal life experiences, but we easily create narratives around them of rejection, inadequacy, or unworthiness. How we interpret life events is often determined by experiences earlier in life that were confusing or unresolved. We may have lacked the nurturing support of a parent or loved one who could have helped us see things differently. These feelings of rejection, inadequacy, or unworthiness become a pattern. As we learn to listen more deeply into our pain we have the opportunity to understand the original source. As we explore the source we can see it in a new light and begin to change these negative responses to normal life circumstances.
Pain Can Be Simultaneous to Hope and Joy
I often sit with my clients and invite them to take a step back from explaining their situation or struggles and just to name, one word at a time, the various emotions they are feeling about a circumstance. The process often begins with the strong powerful feelings of despair, frustration, sadness, lost. Then, if we sit still enough, words such as love, hope and joy appear. Because the painful words have such a loud voice we often miss the other pieces.
We Can Change the Relationship We Have with Pain
“Learning to be present to, witness and experience your pain with Awareness, allows for what is stagnant, frozen, inflamed, and arrested to flow and move. Resisting or avoiding pain takes a lot of focused energy and increases the intensity of the original pain. As a consequence, it has to get larger, louder, and more intense in order to capture our attention.”
This is nearly impossible to do alone. But with the loving guidance and support of an experienced professional you can loosen the grip that unpleasant emotions have on you.
At Heartswell we can help you change the relationship you have with pain. We are available and ready to join you on your journey towards more hope, joy, and peace. Contact us by phone or email to set up a free phone consultation.
*From handout of Anatomy of Awakening – Module 3, The Trajectory of Healing, Annmarie Early, Fernand Poulin, and Tammy LaDrew, 2019.