Feel the Pain

October 28, 2015

Stress Management

Cynthia came to see me. She had spent a year or so studying Real Love, and had talked with many wise men and women. “I’m in so much pain,” she said. “All the time. It’s like I swim in it, and I’m tired of it.”

“Hmmm,” I said. “That would appear to be an irrefutable statement. After all, only you could know whether you were in pain, right? So if you say you’re in pain all the time, then it must be true, right?”

“I guess so.”

“While I do believe that you feel pain, your biggest problem is not your pain. The biggest problem is that you don’t feel ENOUGH of it.”

“Excuse me?” she said.

“Let me try to summarize your life. You have never been unconditionally loved—not ever. You have felt alone all your life. You have trusted so many people to love you—your parents, your siblings, your ex-husband, boyfriends, and on and on and on—and every single one of them has let you down. They’ve withdrawn, or criticized you, or attacked you, or whatever. You feel so betrayed you can hardly stand it. You want to scream your sense of betrayal to all the world. How am I doing?”

Tears were streaming down Cynthia’s face.

“The pain in all that,” I said, “is inexpressible. It’s intolerable, so all your life you have denied it, hidden it, lied about it, withdrawn from people, drunk too much on many occasions, worked yourself to death for approval and to avoid disapproval, and much, much more. But in doing all that you have temporarily numbed your pain, so you wouldn’t feel it as much. But then all those activities have eventually led to more pain. So the problem is not your pain, but that you have been caught in an endless cycle—also called an addiction—of trying to make your pain less.”

Sobbing now, Cynthia asked, “So what am I supposed to do?”

I sat close to her and held her hand. “Feel the pain. Don’t run from it, or medicate it, or lie about it. Just feel it.”

Scarcely intelligible through the sobs, she said, “But if I feel it all, I think I’ll die.”

“Without help, I agree with you. Without love, you could not bear the pain in your life. But now you have a chance to just FEEL your pain and to allow yourself to feel loved to the point where your wounds will heal. It’s the wounds that cause your pain, and all your behaviors haven’t led to healing, only to less feeling. If you’ll let your wounds heal, the CAUSE of the pain will disappear, and you won’t need all those behaviors anymore.”

Most of us spend our lives treating our pain instead of our wounds. So we SUCCEED in decreasing our pain, which feels good. But then we create and perpetuate the delusion that we’re doing better when we’re not.

When we use addictive behaviors to diminish our pain, we don’t feel enough pain to motivate us to really solve our problems. We need to feel the pain and accept the healing love that eliminates our core wounds. Only then does our pain really go away.

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