I’ve blogged about pain before. I’ll probably blog more about it in the future.
I think it’s an extremely relatable topic as, well, we all feel it at one point or another.
We’re brought into this world screaming; feeling pain & causing pain. We’ll most likely leave this world feeling pain & causing pain. It’s what we do, as humans.
Pain most often comes to me in the flavor of anxiety. I say anxiety, because in order to deal with it, I have to name it. What I feel… rather regularly… has to be identified as something, right? You don’t just go to the doctor in search of a drug… you want a diagnosis. A name. A description to what you’ve been dealing with. But just because I’ve given it a name, doesn’t mean that I necessarily identify with it. It is, very much so, apart of me; it has shaped the way I react, the things I do, the person I am… But it’s not me, me.
I recognize it as pain because my flavor of anxiety somehow manages to make me feel absolutely everything I’ve ever felt… all at once. It freaks me the f out. It completely unhinges me in that moment.
The typical anxiety-like symptoms follow that.
But the point is, the root is pain. Wanna know how I know that?
Because just like any other painful experience, I’ve picked at it and picked at it and picked at it until I was able to wrap my entire mind around it.
Until I was able to identify the who, what, when, where and whys. I somehow always take this state of pain and turn it into sort of a mission. I’m on a mission to get past it, really. But in the process of doing that, I find purpose. I find fulfillment. I find wholeness. I find a reason for living. Every. Single. Time.
I don’t recall the last time riding in my Jeep on a 75 degree day with the top down, music blaring, hair whipping, did that for me. And I’d venture to describe that as one of the moments in time that make me the happiest.
You see, I’ve done a lot of reading. You know… In my mission to wrap my head around my pain. And what I’ve found (every time, without fail, like annoyingly) is that those that RESIST running from their pain live the fullest lives. The most whole lives.
It’s not that they’re happy… In fact, I’d bet a lot of them would probably laugh at the cliche advice “do what makes you happy.” But they are whole. They aren’t lacking. Yet, they’re hungry… Not for food or water or clothes or things or housing or nice cars or anything of that sort. They’re starving for more of life. Are you starving for more of life? Right now? No? But you’re chasing this happiness idea? And you’re not starving for life? Why doesn’t it feel like they’re the same thing.
Because it’s in your pain. The very thing that you absolutely hate the most and probably wish away regularly… is the thing that holds your purpose. Are you searching for purpose? I was… I am… Always. But I’ve felt closest to my purpose when I’ve been down the most, the deepest. I know that sounds morbid. But let me just present you this;
I found my passion for writing when I was at my lowest of lows. I lost my joy. I lost my meaning. I lost everything (or so it seemed). But I came to a blank page to make sense of things. A blank page where I could create joy and meaning and everything. It’s sort of a desperate thing. Like QUICK! Re-create your soul on this paper! But those blog posts…. are my most viewed ones. Ten-fold.
So there’s a METAPURPOSE to your pain; a secondary or higher-level purpose.
It’s just simply true.
Managing it, while your purpose forms, must be the hard part right?
Here are some practical ways to manage pain;
(tested & proven by yours truly)
- TAKE A HIKE; Or whatever your hard drug of choice is. I say “hard” in the sense like “this is really freaking hard to do.” Find whatever that is and do it often. Take yourself to your breaking point – there you will (seriously) enter into this sort of conscious state of being where you can see your pain for what it is and nothing personal. From that point, and potentially only that point, you can manage it.I recently took The Class by Taryn Toomey; a workout class totally designed around this method. You literally do one exercise for the entire duration of a song. It’s easy at first, then it gets hard, then you want to stop. But you can’t stop… the instructors are like trained to get in your head or something. They get you to a point of recognizing how you feel when you want to stop. Anxious? Frustrated? Upset? Sad? Excited? Sick? Good – keep going. I’ve never felt bliss the way that I felt it after that class. I couldn’t help but smile. It’s all about pushing through the threshold that we create in our minds. Whatever it is that does this for you, do it.
- SKIP THE (actual) DRUGS; In all of my reading mentioned above, I’ve also found that mostly everyone that finds this wholeness in life, made a decision to stop masking their pain. In the form of drugs. You see, pain has a purpose and it’s not going to leave until it knows for sure that you’ve figured out what it wants (read more about that here) so masking it isn’t helping your cause. CONSIDER switching to an alternative method if you’re relying on (insert drug of choice here) to numb your pain. But please, I’m not a medical professional and this is a full disclosure that this is just a suggestion and you should absolutely always consult with your doctor before changing medications.
- DON’T RUN, WALK; Running is great. It’s one of my truest passions. I can really get to my “take a hike” zone on a good, long run, but I’m prescribing you walking. Walking is powerful. First of all, it’s a gift… It promotes gratitude. You can walk, with your legs, that work, to a destination, wherever you want, at any speed you see fit, and you can have conscious thoughts while doing so.
Secondly, it restores you to your truest rhythm. We get all sorts of off-centered. Especially when dealing with a painful experience. So it’s important to restore our rhythm; get ourselves back to a place where we can function from. Walking at our natural pace does that. When a storm hits, and your deck umbrella blows off into the neighbors yard… You don’t leave it there, right? You go and get it… You bring it back so it can be used correctly.
Finally, walking is a great time to reflect. It’s different from running because you don’t have to worry about your pace, or your lungs exploding, or your legs exploding, or your heart or anything like that… You can just walk. Sometimes when you’re unhinged from what you thought life would be, it’s really comforting to JUST do something that only allows you to do JUST that.
- TALK TO SOMEONE(ELSE); If you have a lot of people in your life that support you, that’s great. But sometimes when you’re trying to manage your pain, it’s important to talk to someone objective (like a therapist) instead. Here’s why;
- Do you feel your skin? If I asked you what the purpose of your skin was, would you say that it’s to protect you? If that’s the case, then it’s sort of a boundary right? It doesn’t let things out and it doesn’t let things in. In order to protect yourself from additional, unnecessary pain, you must set boundaries with the people you love. If you’re constantly spilling your pain on them, it becomes difficult for the relationship to be anything but a therapy session. And friends/parents aren’t licensed therapists… They have something to lose if things don’t go the way that they’d advise you towards, so it’s not fair to put them or yourself in that position.
- Receiving objective feedback is extremely helpful when you’re in over your head in whatever it is that you’re dealing with. An hour therapy session is very much so like surfacing for a whole hour… and when you’re drowning, that’s a lot of time to breathe.
- CHECK YOUR EXPECTATIONS; Do you ever go to a fancy spa or a fancy restaurant and have this “I’m going to enjoy this” expectation… but then you don’t. It’s like, the conditions of getting fancy make you feel like you have to enjoy it extra. And then you can’t even enjoy it at all because you’re trying to be extra. Maybe it’s just me… but my best experiences have been when fancy wasn’t attached. If you’re going to get a massage because you just need some self-love, don’t even worry about it being at the nicest spa or whatever. Don’t worry about “getting your monies worth” in terms of service. Don’t worry about money, actually. Just do what is going to make you feel better. You’re managing pain remember? Cultivating your purpose? I think it’s justifiable.
Your pain can kill you. It can end your life… maybe not physically, though it can do that too, but more so it can put a screeching halt to your sense of joy in life. Really, it can. It’s called depression. You can get so wrapped up in whatever it is that pains you. Whatever it is that someone did to you. Whatever went wrong. Whatever didn’t happen. Whatever did happen. It can all lead to the same place.
Or, you can learn to manage it. Because it’s probably not going away until you learn to manage it. And the beautiful thing is… that in learning to manage it, you can maybe find your purpose for living… You can maybe find the thing or the person that brings you joy. You can maybe realize that, on this journey to heal, you get to really know yourself. And you’re pretty amazing. Don’t flee, don’t wish it away, don’t be afraid. Pain doesn’t want to see you hurt as much as you may think… it has much bigger plans for you; a meta purpose.