How Pain Has Become My Portal to Peace.
We all know the difference between physical and emotional pain. Or do we? As children, we are encouraged to avoid physical pain. ‘Don’t touch the stove — you’ll get burnt,’ don’t run — you’ll trip over,’ and ‘don’t play with knives — you’ll cut yourself.’ Have all the warnings from our parents and teachers, led us to be afraid of any kind of pain?
Many of us have treated physical and emotional pain as if they are the same. We’ve spent our life trying to avoid the consequences of both. I started to wonder whether our conditioning has influenced our tendency to turn away from emotional pain, when I believe the opposite is necessary. For inner peace, it is essential to face our emotional wounds. We need to acknowledge our feelings, even when they are confronting.
We’d all prefer not to go through emotional unrest. Is that why we have called it pain, when it could more accurately be defined as hard, confronting, time consuming, inconvenient or damn uncomfortable? It’s not easy to go to the heart of our inner child wounds, but is calling it pain an excuse? A misrepresentation. A way to avoid dealing with it. So we don’t have to feel the sting, like when we touch the stove. We repel the painful emotions because we’ve been told they are negative, but working through them is the pathway to deep healing.
We have all experienced a time in our lives when something that was painful became a turning point. A time when our life changed direction for the betterment of our development. Pain has a way of alerting us that we we’re not on track. Through signs, health issues or gut feelings, we are inspired to look at other options. If I hadn’t experienced the pain of my dad’s unexpected death, I would have probably stayed longer in the ill-fated relationship I was in. The pain I was feeling for my dad was actually grief. Grief that pushed me to overcome my fears when I hadn’t previously had the courage to leave.
I have reframed pain as something absolutely necessary to move through my life. Pain has been one of my biggest motivators for massive change. I now face it head on. As the wardrobe was the doorway to Narnia in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, working through pain has become my gateway to another way of living. A portal to awakening the parts of me that I need to change.
Where I would normally run towards safety and familiarity when I sensed pain, I now welcome it. I take a deep breath and ask myself these questions: -
-Why am I feeling this way?
-Where is this taking me?
-What can I learn?
-What am I afraid to leave behind?
-How can I become a better version of myself by releasing fear and accepting this challenge?
So, emotional pain isn’t just something that hurts. It is an essential ingredient to break open the wounds and beliefs that may have been blocking us. When we turn our back, we close. We stay put. When we work through pain, we expand and open, allowing us to blossom into our wholeness. If we didn’t experience any discomfort, we wouldn’t be propelled forward. Into the unknown. We would remain stuck in an avoidance loop. Without the pain to unsettle us, it would be difficult to grow. Without growth there is no healing. Without healing there is no inner peace.
Maybe it’s time to consider a new relationship with emotional pain. When you begin to see it as a guide, or an indicator that something needs to change in your life, pain can become your friend. A powerful motivator. A positive tool in your life. Not something to avoid at all costs.
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