Life can be painful at times. No doubt about it. I see it all the time when working through the process of healing. People often say “I can’t take this amount of pain” or “How can I get away from this pain and return my life to a more peaceful state”. What occurs to me is that we live in a world that gives us the message that pain is something we avoid and when it occurs, which it does across our entire lives, the first thought is get rid of it. I am not saying that experiencing life’s painful moments is such a wonderful thing and in fact when it hits, its certainly horrible. Someone we love lets us down or betrays our trust or doesn’t care about us (one of our greatest fears is that we don’t matter) and when that moment hits, our first thought from the over thinking brain is to make sense of the pain by wanting to know “why” did this happen.
Whether we realize it or not, we humans are meaning makers. Whenever we are stuck in traffic or someone hurts us, our first question is why is this happening and whatever thought we come up with is an attempt to restore that ground under our feet. Our frantic brain scrambles around seeking answers (oh there was an accident that’s why traffic is so jammed). We might also even come up with an answer such as this happened because (see the meaning making) I am unworthy of love and respect and the list goes on and on. The problem is that when we leave this important work of seeking meaning to a brain that has constant chatter and takes both sides of any argument, we tend to get more confused and overwhelmed.
Alas!!! There is also an opportunity here to change a situation of pain to one that includes pain but changes the meaning of that pain. What if you don’t need the answer right now? What if for just a moment you suppose that all wisdom is born from painful situations and that every time a painful moment hits, you are on the cusp of learning something new? How might his change your reaction to painful experiences? What might happen? Oh the fearful ego brain with its constant chatter will try to tell you, “WTF, you have to have an answer for this or something bad might happen” or “you don’t know how to handle this situation but I am here as your ever present servant to assist you by telling you to read his/her emails, find out who they are texting so you can be sure this won’t happen again, or try to change your bosses mind about you so you feel more secure in your job” and on and on and on it goes spinning you down a path that creates even more chaos and confusion. FEAR!!!
Getting to paradise means that you stop listening to the constant chatter and when pain hits, you create space for it by being compassionate with yourself in that moment of pain. Learning to realize that you can in fact rise above the pain and grow as a person (notice I said learning) as a result of the pain. This gives us confidence in our ability to know that no matter what life throws at us (and it will time and time again) that we can in fact be compassionate with ourselves and begin to grow as a human as a result of painful moments.
Submitted By: Donna Murphy
Donna Murphy holds a Master’s degree in Social Work and is registered with the Alberta College of Social Workers. She is a therapist who specializes in individual/couples and family counselling, a Certified Meditation Instructor, and is Certified in Adult Education. Her approach is to use a combination of spiritual and various counselling techniques.
Donna’s private practice involves working with couples, co-parenting, blended families, parenting issues, stress/anxiety and healing from trauma. Her approach to therapy integrates her meditation, spirituality, mind/body connection and cognitive reshaping. She has been practicing for 11 years in a variety of settings such as government, employee assistance programs, lunch and learn sessions and working for non-profit organizations .