Navigating Pain

Pain is ubiquitous and absolutely necessary.

Why?

It pushes us — beyond all the places in which we are either comfortable or stuck. Without experiencing pain we might stay in an unhealthy relationship, remain in a place which underutilizes our talents, or accept mediocrity when extraordinary is within reach.

The very existence of pain in our lives (whether it shows up as grief, hurt, betrayal, angst, anger, fury, rage, depression, sorrow, etc.) indicates that important needs and/or values are not being met. And pain is the catalyst which encourages us to acknowledge the importance of these needs and values and to help us figure out how to better meet them.

That’s why, when we feel pain, it’s important that we stay with it. Feel the emotion. Be curious about it and open to learning from it. Be willing to sit with what is deeply uncomfortable, instead of medicating it with alcohol, socialization, technology, meditation, or any other diversion that serves to keep the pain at bay. These things won’t make pain go away. Diversion is just a thin veneer that evaporates after a bit, leaving us exposed and raw once again.

Geometry teaches us that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So too with navigating pain. Face it. Walk toward it. Be willing to enter into pain and travel through it. Stay the course, for the path through pain will deliver us to the other side in the most expeditious manner.

This journey won’t take away from the “ick” of feeling the pain. To me, it’s sticky, sappy, honey-like goop that’s all over my body. It doesn’t wash off easily and sometimes it makes my skin crawl. So be it. The pain will wash off once it has served its purpose.

And pain’s purpose is to get me to look squarely at what’s not working in my life, so that I can release it and eventually envision and create anew.