What’s the first thing we do when we feel pain? Well, first we complain. Then we try anything we can to get rid of it.
Let’s say you have a stomach ache. You might take an antacid or some Pepto, or lay down with a heating pad. But one of the biggest mistakes we can make is to simply get rid of the pain without asking what actually caused **it.** When we do this, we’re most likely just putting a band aid on the problem, not actually solving it. For example, if my stomach ache is caused by a food intolerance, then I need to think about what I just ate and take note. Doing this will not only prevent future stomach aches, but avoid any lasting damage done by continually eating something my body doesn’t jive with.
Embracing our pain, any kind of pain, instead of pushing it away is essential for our long term health, overall growth, and happiness.
Pain in our bodies has a very specific purpose. It is meant to be an indicator, and a really important one. If you had a broken foot but it didn’t hurt, then you’d walk, run, and jump around on it all the time, damaging your muscles, nerves, spine and everything else in between! If someone with cancer never had any symptoms, she would not know she was sick until it was too late. In other words, no one likes pain, but it is _so _necessary! In fact, there is a rare disease that turns pain sensors off, which can lead to premature death for reasons like this.
The same can be said for other types of pain as well: emotional, relational, and spiritual. Things like anxiety, loneliness, the fear of missing out, jealousy, and heartbreak all have a purpose. These feelings are not meant to be pushed down, neglected, suppressed, or simply treated with a band aid. Instead, if we lean into our pain, using it as a compass, we can actually use it to get to where we want to go.
Familiarize yourself with the discomfort.
The first step in using our pain as a guide is simply being willing to lean into it. We must choose to actually get to know our pain, and dare I say, even become friends with it. I mean, not the kind of friend you want to hang out with 24/7. The kind you’re totally fine not hanging out with, but when you do see her, you’re not afraid. You embrace her, you ask her what’s going on, and you kindly figure out why she’s there.
Find healing through clarity.
After familiarizing ourselves with our pain, we can dig even deeper and find the why behind it. Doing this is incredibly important, because often the cause is not what you think it is. For example, let’s say you find yourself continually in pain of jealousy from seeing others’ lives on social media. Initially, you might think: “The reason I’m in pain is because this person has it better than I do. They have more money, a better husband, cuter clothes, etc.” However, if you get to the bottom of why you’re feeling that pain, you’re likely to reveal the real reason for your discomfort.
Most often, it actually has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you. H ow you view yourself, your life, your level of confidence, and self worth. This completely changes the game! Suddenly, something you have no control over (that person’s paycheck, partner, and wardrobe) becomes something you have 100% control over (your own self worth). Those really crappy feelings now become an opportunity to grow more into the most loving, joyful version of yourself. Only when we get this clarity can we truly find healing from our pain.
Reframe your perspective.
Instinctually, we think of pain as a bad thing - but what if it’s not? I f we took our pain and flipped it on it’s head, completely changing our perspective, what would we learn? Let’s say you had an absent parent growing up. It would have caused you a ton of pain throughout your childhood and into adulthood. You could spend a lot of time and energy being angry or resentful, and you’d be justified in doing so. But if you look at it differently - you might see that without that experience, you wouldn’t have the amazing capacity to empathize with lonely or abandoned people the way you do. You wouldn’t have the level of immense gratitude for the loved ones in your life. You wouldn’t be the awesome mom (or mom-to-be, aunt, or friend) that you are, because of that experience.
Finding this perspective is certainly not easy, but it is absolutely possible. Reframing your pain doesn’t dismiss or take away from it. In fact, it does the opposite by adding an incredible amount of value to your pain. And after all, don’t you want to feel like there is some point to all of it?
Turn it into something powerful.
If you read the story of any successful or influential person, you will find pain and suffering. That’s because each one has chosen to embrace their pain, reframe it, and do something great with it. It’s important to stay inspired when working out our pain. Read books, listen to podcasts, find stories of people who have made something great by overcoming hardships. Take time to dig deep and get inside your head. Then, get out of it. Step back, and look at the bigger picture.
They say you can’t teach something you haven’t experienced yourself, so how can we expect to help people through their pain if we haven’t done the same? Doing so will make you much more relatable and trustworthy to others. We preach from our pain, and there is great power in that. Power not only to become the type of person we want to be, but to help someone else overcome and find joy as well.
As long as we’re living, we will experience hardship. But we have the power within us to choose what we do with it. Your pain is your power. So, embrace it. Lean into it. Don’t be afraid of it. Use it to become the beautiful, powerful, confident woman you are.
Photos by: Liz Calka