Pain Management

January 23, 2013 in self-coaching, woo-woo


You cannot hide from pain.  I can’t either.  We feel it.  You, me, billionaires, warlords, life coaches, fat people, skinny people, drug dealers, Oprah. We all feel pain.

Those people who ‘are always happy?’  Who must just be better at avoiding pain because bad shit never seems to happens to them?  Yeah, that’s a myth, bad shit happens to them all the time.  They step in dog poop and throw screaming fits with their families and go on awkward dates.  They lose their jobs.  They go to funerals.  Their hearts break.

Those people who always seem happy aren’t immune to these things.  They aren’t better at avoiding emotional pain; they’re better at managing it.  And avoidance has no place in good management.

But what does pain management even mean?

It means being proactive with your thoughts so that a situation you see as painful (‘I got laid off.’) doesn’t become a painful story about you (‘I’m a huge loser with worthless ideas, and I probably don’t deserve a fulfilling job ‘cause I’ll just screw up again).

It means feeling your pain instead of feeding it.  Being willing to be honest about it, and to acknowledge however huge it is.  Because your other option is to spend a chunk of your life, every day, working to feed the lie that your pain isn’t there.

It means becoming an expert on locating your joy, and letting yourself feel pleasure in the midst of a painful situation.

It means knowing that only you can feel your pain for you.  But also knowing that letting someone bear witness to your pain can provide immense relief.  It means asking for help and for support, not for solutions.

It means knowing that you do not deserve to turn a painful situation into a lifetime of suffering. 

It means accepting that things will happen and you will feel pain, and living with an open heart anyway.  It means choosing to be that brave.

That is the secret of happy people.  Of people who are at peace.  Of people who live without the fear of being hurt by life.  They aren’t magically exempt from pain.  There is no get out of jail free card.  But there is knowing that the best tether to your pain is the constant vigilance required to avoid it.  And there is power in saying “In my life, I will know incredible pain, and I will love my gorgeous life anyway.”  And there is always, always the choice to live with an open heart.