Embracing Your Pain September 2020
How your pain can make you stronger and
life more meaningful
You’ve heard it said that what doesn’t kill you makes you
What does that mean anyway?
It’s the belief that one can use pain as an opportunity to
Consider weight training to build muscle strength.
In order to increase strength, muscles need to undergo more
stress than they are used to in order to grow.
The process includes a ‘burn” in the muscle during exercise followed by some soreness
and pain following a demanding strength training session as a result of microscopic
tears in the muscle. This is where the saying “No pain, no gain!” originates.
This may seem counter intuitive but is essential for the repair and healing process
and activates the building processes that lead to stronger muscles. It’s at this point
many well intended first time exercisers stop working out.
Much like stressing our muscles, we are a culture that tries to avoid discomfort and emotional pain at all costs! Instead of trying to understand what we are feeling, we try to make it go away because it doesn't feel good. Like so many of you, the stress of painful childhood experiences created anxiety and a distorted view of myself, others, and the world.
I grew up believing that being tough was a good thing since it was rewarded and thereby learned to avoid vulnerability, repress, and numb my feelings.
I’ve taken part in many of the ways people push away pain. We are driven to alcohol and drugs, shopping, entertainment, excessive exercise, overworking, achievements, seeking security in relationships, overeating, blaming rather than owning, binge eating or not eating at all! But the pleasure received, as all of us know, is only a temporary mask which doesn’t deal with the dysfunction below.
Unfortunately, the coping strategies I used to protect myself as a child did not serve me well in my adult life and relationships. It took two painful divorces to crush me and open my eyes to the fact that I was an unconscious participant in the dysfunction of my relationships. Yes, I was a victim of much dysfunction towards me but I still needed to own my part.
I had low self worth, felt anxious and powerless in my relationships and lacked meaning in my life. More than anything I wanted peace, security and happiness but knew I wouldn’t have it until I quit blaming, took personal responsibility, and began working on myself.
It required an enormous amount of humility and vulnerability to get to this place, but it was the necessary starting point to overcoming my pain and the dysfunction in my life.
How can you use the pain of your past to create a meaningful life?
I needed to embrace my pain and “own it”. It’s impossible to heal and move forward without truly feeling and acknowledging our pain. We need to be completely honest with ourselves about the truth of our past and present. If instead we choose denial, we will remain stuck.
It’s human nature to want to avoid difficult emotions and pain. We fear feeling our painful emotions. We think they will overwhelm us and fear we will lose control, or worse expose and shame us. The truth is, sharing in difficulty and pain creates more connection among us than sharing in joy and achievement.
A study by the University of Virginia found that feeling vulnerable and out of control leads to greater generosity, connection, and helpfulness while the opposite is true when we are primed with feelings of self-determination and control.
Ironically, it’s in the place of vulnerability we empathize and bond with others as we are reminded of what we have in common – our humanness!
We are all together in this journey called life, and we make personal choices that impact our emotional, spiritual, and physical health for better or for worse. We have the choice to stay stuck in our pain or use it for greater purposes.
We are the authors of our lives!
Carl Jung was the first prominent therapist to write extensively about the important intersection between spirituality and mental health. He believed people were longing for meaning and purpose that couldn't be found through a psychological perspective alone.
My spiritual walk is central to my life and impacts all other areas of my being. My Christian faith provides strength, purpose, and direction for my life. The following is a bible verse I have found comfort in while going through difficult times.
“When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for joy. When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything” James 1:2-4
In this life we will all experience pain. We don't have to pretend to be happy but rather choose to have a positive outlook “let it be an opportunity for joy “because of what troubles can produce in our life.
We have the choice to turn our hardships into times of learning. Going through difficulties and experiencing pain can teach us perseverance and endurance and truly shows us the depth of our character when we see how we react under pressure. Instead of avoiding, denying, and repressing, we can choose to see pain as an opportunity for growth.
I am one who has chosen to be thankful for the pain in my past. It’s helped me grow into the person I am today, more compassionate and better able to relate with others who are struggling.
So, what will you choose? Will you decide to be unhappy and stuck in repressing or denying your pain? Or will you decide to use it for good and make the decision to embrace your pain, allow it to strengthen you and create purpose in your life?
With a genuine and non-judgemental approach, I would count it a privilege to walk along side you as a fellow traveller on this path called life and assist you in achieving spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness.
My goal is to create a safe place to support you in gaining self awareness and consciousness into both your problems and personal strengths and encourage you with the idea that life's challenges are an opportunity for growth and empowerment!
Cheering you on!
Yours, in Body, Mind and Spirit,
RPC-C Registered Professional Counsellor
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
BCRPA Certified Group Fitness and Aquafit and Osteofit Instructor