Making Peace with Pain

by | Mar 21, 2024 | Feelings, Healthy Relationships, Personal Growth

It’s natural for humans to recoil from pain.

When I put my hand too close to a fire, the pain I might start to feel gets me to pay attention: You’re at risk of being harmed! Do something.  

On the physical level this makes all sorts of sense, right?

Emotional discomfort works in a similar way: distress and pain are alerts that focus our attention on what’s happening so that we can attend more consciously to our needs.

  • Are our needs for safety being threatened?
  • What about our needs for predictability or connection or belonging?  
  • Do we need to do something to tend to our survival, health or well-being?

Unpleasant feelings get our attention on our needs and on tending more consciously to our well-being.  However, they are not inherently “harmful.” When I feel hurt, or feel pain, I am not always necessarily being “harmed.”

Take, for example, the pain of life-saving surgery or dental work. It may hurt, but we’re actually being helped and healed from something.

Pain may be a signal from your body that something needs attention, but healing work doesn’t necessarily mean relief from that pain along the way.

When we’re willing to surrender to the pain inherent in certain things, especially when there is no imminent danger to our bodies or ourselves, making peace with the pain of something actually brings it’s own kind of relief.  

The AA adage of “what you resist, persists” came alive for me this week once I was willing to simply feel and acknowledge the discomfort, sadness, grief and disappointment inherent in a particular relationship.  I was able to soften into that relationship and keep my heart open even more when I stopped trying to “fix the pain” by “figuring it out”, and a whole range of wiser, softer and more open-hearted options became available to me.

I shared this realization at the top of the podcast this week.  You can listen to the entire story, or just check out these show notes:

  • How do I respond to someone accusing me of gaslighting when the person remembers a situation differently from me?  (8:40)
  • How do I talk about something painful and convey what I need to be helped or move past it? (26:57)
  • How do I connect with a person who is completely shut off? (35:39)
  • What do I do when I’m unsure if I want to continue a relationship with someone I feel judged me? (38:36)

And as always, if you’ve got a question of your own that you’d like to discuss, join us live on Wednesday morning to immerse yourself in an open-hearted community of fellow seekers!

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What has hurt taught you?  I’d love to know!  Leave a comment below.

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