Stop and think about the last time you thought about pain in a way that was positive. You probably haven’t. No, pain is something we try to avoid at all costs. But what if we began to see the purpose in our pain and started using it to fuel us forward? I believe it’s possible.
I don’t have a very high pain tolerance. In fact, growing up I was alway more worried about getting hurt than having a fun adventure. From bicycle ramps to tackle football, I was good just watching from the sidelines.
When I was in junior high, the X Games were growing in popularity and so riding a skateboard was the thing to do. All of my friends had one so one day I decided I needed one too. (Please read the above paragraph again as you think about me on a skateboard.)
So picture me, a terrified jr. higher, stepping on my skateboard for the first time hoping to show the world my mad X Game skills. It ended about how you thought it would.
As I laid there staring up at the sky, I wondered how to scuff up my skateboard enough so my friends would think I rode it all of the time, without having to ride it ever again. It was too painful.
We can also see this when it comes to internal pain. A good friend hurts our feelings. When our dreams are crushed under the weight of a failed business. A love is lost in the wake of a spouse walking out.
This pain is different but we treat it the same. We suck it up and try and figure out a way to not let anyone else know how bad it really hurts. We say things like, “I’m ok…” or “It will all work out…” and although this can be true, it often is a mask we put on to hide what’s really going on.
We might cry or have a bad day or two, but we push the pain away. Less pain means we are more healthy, right? We look around and see those around us are happy and whole, so we have to keep putting on our mask in order to be like everyone else. Pain-free and alive.
But what if there’s another way. What if all of the time we spent trying to push our pain away was actually hurting us more than helping us? I have found it to be true. Only when I stop long enough to call my pain out for what it is am I able to find healing.
Over the past few months, I have been trying to do three things that I have never allowed myself to do before. They are:
- Pause. When your feelings are hurt or you’re suddenly let go from your job, learn to pause. Too often we just keep moving. We try to forget it happened. Move on to the next friend or job or to-do list. Push past the pain. It’s best to pause and reflect on the situation.
- Feel. Because we don’t like being hurt, we try to numb it quickly. We lie to others and to ourselves in order to get on with our lives. It’s best to feel the pain. Let it do its work. Uncomfortable? Yes, but if pain is not dealt with now, it will come back later. Don’t wait. Feel your pain.
- Grow. The positive thing about pain is that it often allows true growth to happen in our lives. We want to kick and scream and call it “unfair”, but at the end of it all, we are better off because of it. It’s hard to see and it’s a truth we don’t like to talk about, but our pain allows us to grow in ways we never would without it. Allow your pain to make a better version of you.
Recently I have tried these three steps in dealing with pain in my own life. It’s never fun and these steps don’t remove the pain. It allows me to see my pain for what it is and walk through it with purpose.
If you’re hurting today, allow yourself to pause and really feel the pain. The tears will come. The heartache will hurt, but in the end, you will be better, wiser, and stronger because of it. So, will you join me in taking these small steps to growing through pain?
Question: Have you ever realized a year later that you haven’t dealt with pain from your past? Would it be easier to walk through your pain now?