It took me a long time to figure out facing my pain is crucial for living my dream life. This was a breakthrough understanding and while it is so important, it’s not often discussed. When you’re building your dream life, you can have the most perfect plan laid out but until you face pain at the root of you, it won’t matter.
It applies to any area in your life. You may be reading this thinking “what pain? I don’t have pain,” but I’m willing to bet you do. Pain can look a lot of different ways and can be brought on for many different reasons.
I had to navigate through years of feelings and events that had happened in my life to truly break free. I’m here to tell you today, that I still have times that are off and those old feelings haunt me, but being able to recognize them, address them and move forward is crucial to helping yourself navigate life.
Acknowledging your pain
When you’re dealing with pain, one of the most important things you can do is to address it head on. First, instead of burying it, or finding some way to ignore it, acknowledge you are feeling it. Once you have acknowledged it, say it aloud.
It’s funny how hard this part can actually be. We don’t want to say things out loud because then we’re afraid they suddenly become real and we’ll have to deal with them. Avoidance only causes more pain in the long run. Facing your pain aloud gets it out into the open and also brings a sense of relief because it’s “out there” and not trapped in your mind, running through scenarios over and over again.
Scenario playing while facing your pain
After you have said it aloud, play through a realistic scenario out loud as well, not one that’s been made up in your head. i.e. Ask yourself, what the first thing is that would happen if this fear was real in the present moment? Who would it affect? Does it actually hurt someone? How does it affect my life? In 10 minutes is this going to matter? What about a month from now? How about a year from now? Will it still be a problem? The answer is more than likely NO. Then continue to build on that until you get to a realistic resolution.
I’ve never done this without feeling better afterward because there’s always been a realistic version that’s better thought out than one based out of fear that most often is not true.
It’s even better if you have someone close to you that you can run this drill with. I do this with my honey after I’ve realized I’m unintentionally holding fear in my mind. It always calms me down after because the scenario in my head is completely ridiculous more often than not.
Our minds can work in overdrive quite often if we’re not careful. Use this important exercise anytime you feel those thoughts coming on. Once you do it enough times, it will become habit and your actual pain and fears start to become smaller and you will have a more realistic picture of the situation at hand.
It’s easy to sensationalize things based on inputs around us, such as society. We see it in the movies, tv shows, in music and other media. As humans, it’s easy to crave drama without realizing it because of this. We’re all looking for that good story to tell at the end of the day. But there’s a reason those things happen in movies and most often, not in real life.
Facing your pain from the past to move forward
Often times, at the route of pain is fear. One of my favorite things I’ve ever heard goes something like – fear is in the past, anxiety is in the future and peace is in the present moment. We have fear because of something that happened in our past, which causes the pain. We have anxiety because of something we believe will happen in the future, but if we’re truly in the present moment, we have peace.
Think back to the last time you had anxiety, even if it’s in this present moment. It’s because of something you’re afraid of in the future. Whether it’s some made up fear, or a scheduled scenario (like a meeting, etc.), it can’t harm you if you’re equipped with a plan.
9 times out of 10, the scenario in your head is made up and will never happen. You’ve built this scenario based off of past pain, which has equipped you with knowledge to make different decisions that will not cause the same pain again.
Learnings of past pain
This part is important, use your learnings of the past to drive forward to have peace in your life. Each good decision will lead you to a better, healthier place. Like I said before, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten (thanks for that one, dad.) Mistakes from our past are meant to stay there and be taken as learning opportunities to better our future, not create fear-based scenarios in our minds.
Having a plan for facing your pain
The next step is to have a plan. This speaks specifically to the fear and anxiety elements. There is no better way to combat anxiety than having a plan in place to make decisions.
In evaluating my past pain, I knew I never wanted to make decisions that would put me in those situations that caused pain again. After all, who would want to purposely inflict pain on themselves? Not this girl. I also figured out that to avoid the situations in the future, aka anxiety, I had to have a plan.
The more planful and strategic you can be, the better you can avoid a painful situation and make better decisions without having to act in the moment. My honey always says, based on my past experiences, current circumstances, and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do? I absolutely love that.
We believe that any one of those three things likely matter more depending on the situation and the decision, but all three must be considered. I use this and revisit it anytime I’m making a decision.
No matter who you are or where you’re at in the world, you’re human and you’re going to experience pain over and over again in your life. There’s simply no way around it sometimes. It’s how we deal with it that counts.
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