Our pain can transform into healing once we stop treating it like the enemy.
Let’s face it. We’re wired to avoid pain. In times where survival really is at stake thank goodness for the inherent biology that makes us run, hide or fight back. However, the time does come when it is more appropriate to embrace our discomfort so that we can transform our pain into healing. When all of our physical needs are met and we’ve moved beyond mere survival we find ourselves with an impulse to actually do something with our gifts, create a new direction in our lives or grow confidence and self-esteem in ourselves personally.
This is the time when our uncomfortable circumstance become the reflection we need for us to do our personal work. It’s that odd pull we feel to do something different when we start realizing that "everyone always does ______" is a copout on our part and even though we’re compelled to ask some hard questions of ourselves it’s also extremely painful to see the reflection that we don’t like.
We’re stuck for a reason. We’re in a type of personal growth cement simply because we’re operating on the mistaken assumption that staying within the boundaries of our current thoughts, habits and beliefs which were inadvertently adopted from our entire history is more comfortable or safe than growing through them and making big changes. We’ve drawn conclusions about people and life and by the very act of "concluding" we’ve stopped investigating other, more helpful potential truths about our lives or our connection to others’ lives.
Quite simply, you live the life of your choices—every decision you’ve made along the away, big and small, has brought you to THIS point in your life (whether you like it or not) and then … you’ve settled. You’ve settled in to what you think life in general "should" look like, you’ve settled into beliefs about how people "should" behave and you’ve settled in to what you think your life specifically "should" look like by now and then when those things don’t match up … you’re angry.
Let me clarify. Anger is the cover emotion. You’re hurt. You’re hurt that life didn’t work out the way that you envisioned. You’re hurt that you played by the rules, the "shoulds" and you didn’t end up with your just desserts for your efforts. You’re hurt that others seem to have it all figured out and you’re still struggling ... lost ... maybe even hopeless.
Personal growth, can feel like you’re going against the grain.
Biologically, you’re wired to avoid pain.
Culturally, you’re taught that there’s some big payout for living life "right."
Psychologically, you have a whole lifetime’s worth of evidence for the belief you currently feel to be true.
Emotionally, you don’t feel equipped to open the "what if I was wrong" can of worms.
Yet, all of these elements combined are the reason you need to dive in and ask some hard questions of yourself. These conditions are the perfect setup to foster not just your growth but your healing as well.
With all of this seemingly working agains you, how do you transform pain into healing?
Get quiet: Find some time in your day, no matter how small, to go inward. Journal, meditate, pray, sit with music, go for a walk. Some space for you to plug in and deal with the possibilities that have been put in front of you through your perceived hardship.
Question everything: All of those thoughts you have when you’re triggered and you feel reactive to the world instead of pro-active about yourself are the opportunity you need to go a layer deeper. Just get curious. Are those assumptions even true? What else might be true? What have I specifically been asking for that this might be the answer to? How does this pain serve me? Where am I in this?
The beautiful thing about the brain is that once you’ve asked it a question it sets about looking for an answer. All of the electricity in the thinking, creative part of your brain lights up and goes looking about in dormant parts of your brain that aren’t accessed as often simply because they’re outside of your default patterns. There are other ways to interpret your experiences.
Up the ante in your conversations: Bring some of these questions to your friends or colleagues. If no one around you seems to get it then they might be doing more to help you stay stuck than to help you grow. Friends that are at least willing to process it with you out loud can give you a new perspective from their own life or be able to offer a more objective point of view of yourself. Either way you're creating the opportunity see your discomfort through a new, more helpful lens.
Surrender: When you feel the painful situation arise simply notice it ... without judgement. For example, after someone cuts you off in traffic and gets your ire up that negative emotion is the signal that it’s time to find the thought. Maybe it’s something like, "people are so rude." Now you just give it a little attention, "There’s my old belief that people are rude." Let the reaction become a polite little nod to the old pattern. "Hi painful thought! I see you’ve shown up again." Simply taking notice of your old beliefs not only creates a new habit of non-judgement but it also lets your ego know it’s been heard.
We have a story that arises in us every time we feel our painful version of reality: It’s not just "people are rude," it’s "people are rude ... and getting more so. Kids are being raised that way. No one cares. What’s wrong with society?!?" Simply noticing that initial trigger thought stops the subsequent story from arising. It’s like a little imp, "people are rude," and you answer "oh hi! I see that you think people are rude." The elf, in shock, is like, "yeah … I do! You heard me!" then sits in stunned silence for a moment. That moment of silence is your opportunity to show him something different.
Look for evidence to the contrary: A lot of people believe in affirmations. "People are nice, people are nice, people are nice." However, if that little elf is denying your new version of the truth at every turn it becomes a battle of the wills that can turn against you.
"People are nice."
"No, they’re not."
"People are nice."
"people are nice,"
Instead, look for evidence of people being nice. Start small if you have to. Someone used their blinker, returned your phone call, put an inspiring quote on their social media. File it away. Let it pile up. Your beliefs are in place because you’ve spent an entire lifetime compiling evidence that's in alignment with your current [painful] view of the world (it’s called the confirmation bias).
You’ve seen, almost exclusively at times, that people are selfish, greedy, rude, etc … and forgotten that:
1) There are many more times that people are quite considerate
2) There have been times you've misbehaved: that didn’t make you a rude person it just meant that you were a good person who behaved rudely.
Your behavior does not define you yet you let others’ behavior define them and you’ve let yourself be so hurt by it that you continue a pattern that perpetuates the pain. You can transform that pain to healing as soon as you start compiling evidence that's in alignment with your joys.
Do anything and everything that makes you feel good: Ask yourself, "what would I feel and do if I believed that people were kind?" (Or if I believed there was enough money or if I believed I was loved and cherished.) Then do it. The energy of feeling good changes the way you show up in the world and invariably alters the way people respond to you as well. You think you’ll feel differently once your circumstances change, the truth is your circumstances cannot change until you feel differently. Real change starts with a deep feeling place first so get there as often as possible and stay there as long as you’re able.
This process is simple yet takes quite a bit of practice to effect real and lasting change. Over time, however, you’ll find that suffering is a thing of the past and pain … well, pain is simply your opportunity to practice.
Triffany helps dedicated women with a vision bring their powerful dreams to life. When you’re ready to increase your level of presence and appreciation start with this free monthly call or schedule a chat with her directly.