Pain and its gifts

We all have pain. And in life there is no way to avoid that everything you love will one day be gone. This is a thought that is not easy to hear and often creates deep sadness and fear. But what is it that we fear? What is it that we so desperately want to avoid?

Pain is a part of life that often gets a bad rap for being nothing more than an unwanted sensation or feeling, or physical burden. But if you take a second to look closer at your pain, you will see that it is not really your pain that burdens you, but it is the desire and helpless inability to remove the pain that leaves you feeling powerless. So what then? What would happen if we stopped trying to get rid of pain and instead sought to look at it and feel it and know it more intimately. Might we come to find our love of life and our deepest desires and values at the center of our pain. Isn’t pain merely the longing for that which we love and yearn for.

I often think about those individuals who I most admire, and they all have one thing in common: they all were willing to move through pain to find their purpose in life. Try it. Think of anyone you admire and ask yourself, did they have to go through pain to become who they are. Martin Luther King, Joan of Arc, Beethoven, your favorite actor, or a decorated soldier, or loving mother. All of the successes they have achieved were earned through the pain, and heartache, and failure and loss. The musician must endure long hours practicing while desiring perhaps to take a break or spend time with friends at the beach. The professional athlete trained every day, pushing herself while others enjoyed the rest and relaxation of the early mornings and late evenings. The successful business man had to spend late hours trudging through the agitation of learning how to do difficult tasks that are never taught in school yet are required to build a company from the ground up. He works till he gets it right. She pushes until it is done. And they all make room for pain so that they can have that which they value: love, hope, faith, courage , honor, accomplishment, meaning.

Look at your life and ask your self this question: what type of pain do I avoid the most? What did you come up with? Some of us avoid the pain of rejection, or embarrassment, or sadness. Once you have identified  your main avoidance then ask yourself, what else besides the pain did I ultimately avoid. Said another way, what do you have to let go of when you avoid pain? When he avoids rejection, he also avoids emotional intimacy. When she avoids embarrassment, she also must avoid accomplishment and overcoming.

Pain is hard and it is often the last thing we want to feel, but remember, one cannot remove pain without removing growth. Move toward your life and open your mind to the possibility that within your pain lies your deepest greatness and most important journey. the journey of YOU.

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