Making Friends With Pain

The Logical Heart Knows Best

Uh oh, what have I done? I’ve opened a hornet’s nest by facing myself. It stings, ouch! I hurt emotionally and physically because I have avoided facing my painful issues until now. Probably a lifetime of pain swept under the rug, rationalized, minimized, denied, avoided away. Now that I’ve gotten mindful, quiet, listened, and now that I am being honest with myself, I can see these places that need attention, that need healing. Pain is my friend, ironic.

Help! It hurts too much. I feel so empty and forlorn. Let me get a quick fix, and fast! And that’s our chance to choose something different, to stop, and allow ourselves to sit with the pain, face it instead of running and avoiding it. Don’t eat that ice cream, don’t drink that wine, don’t go shopping, don’t hook up, don’t go play the slots, don’t smoke that, don’t take that drug…. stay with the feeling, it passes and is released. Allow yourself to grieve, reflect, figure it out. Get some help, see a therapist, employ techniques to help heal and release pain. Affirmations, EFT, yoga, hypnosis, self-help, journal it out, try different things, and don’t stop until there is some lasting relief.

To be loving, we must address pain. If not addressed, it leads to physical pain and illness as well. The pain points to the areas that need to be worked out, hurts that need to be forgiven, places needing healing in the soul, changes that need to be made. It’s a process, a roller coaster that gets less bumpy as time passes. I tell these stories sometimes, which only prolongs the hurt. Is there any way I can tell that same story from a higher viewpoint or even a different, more humanizing, compassionate, and forgiving perspective? Is there any way I can let go of the anger, fear, victimization, to ease the pain, to allow for healing to fill the empty void hollowed out from the beliefs I have created in pain? Is this what I am doing, working? Is this logical? I can tell this same hurtful story day in and day out. Is it helping me? Does it help me to re-victimize myself again and again by reliving this event, by remembering it repeatedly? What if I let go of that chapter and rewrite a new, more loving story that allows me peace and empowers me? What can I do to change my past? Why not choose to forgive by considering it is done and holding a grudge by reliving a painful memory and blaming the past is only harming myself? When I blame, I give my power to whatever I blame. When I hurt, I give power to the pain, to the past, or to whatever is causing pain in the present. How to empower me?

Forgiveness, learning the lesson, and letting go. Surrendering, accepting the things that I can not directly change or control. Remember the Serenity Prayer? Allowing myself to grieve repeatedly if need be and processing, releasing the emotions which arise. Eventually, the painful event becomes a memory, a projection that can not touch me anymore. A page from my past which has no hold on my present when I let go. I love myself by moving on, yet allowing myself to process my feelings without running away in fear.

Time does heal. And sometimes it takes longer to heal, but that’s okay as long as I am working on healing. When I am triggered, when pain arises, it is a chance to examine, reflect and make healing. loving choices. Am I reacting to the past besides the present? Is my reaction/pain out of proportion to what is actually happening? Maybe there are wounds from childhood or past, from my subconscious connected by an aspect (smell, sight, tone of voice, gesture, etc) to what’s at hand, which has nothing to do with the present? It is beneficial to pause, take inventory to decide what is real at the moment.

Am I really that angry about people leaving their shopping carts in the lot? In the grand scheme of things, is this that big of a deal? Why am I so upset by this? Is it within my control to prevent people from doing this? What would feel better? Maybe this is something I can choose to let go of? Or if it’s that important, maybe I can put everyone’s shopping carts away for them, or maybe I can begin a campaign increasing awareness of the detriments of leaving shopping carts in the lot, or is it really that I am reacting to a shadow part of me which is more comfortable to project onto something else, where I don’t have to own it. Because that way it is less painful? To think that I may be lazy too in some areas of life. I often see that people complain about others, yet they do the same things themselves on different subjects, not able to see the hypocrisy. And if you try to point it out, they can’t see it, getting angry and defensive, denying. I know I do this myself, maybe not in actions always, but in my internal thoughts. We have our hidden spots and pain shows us where to find them so we can become aware and change them for the better.

Looking back, I see that unhealed pain caused the hurt. People behave out of fear because of painful triggers and hurts from their past, or by unconsciously repeating the same hurtful behaviors they have endured, believing it is the “right ” and only way. It happened to them and they survived, turned out okay, so why not do the same, living by default or looking to others to tell them what to do, to religion, to parents, to society? Not questioning if it is really a loving, healthy way of being. Not listening to their logical hearts. Living in fear and unable, unwilling to venture out of their caves (remember Plato’s Cave?) for fear of the unknown. Unable to see because it is so foreign that their minds can not even grasp the concept or see it, there is no insight. We only know what we’ve been shown, not believing that there may be a different way, making the same self-defeating choices, becoming stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle of pain. Often generations with the same unhealed pain. Feeling hopeless, jaded, unworthy, persecuted, and defeated. Full of fear and self-loathing, with a chip on our shoulders. It doesn’t have to stay that way. Every one of us has the same access to the power within that connects us all. It is a matter of being willing and open to that love, ever-present and available. Areas in our lives where there is pain are where love is not being allowed.

Treating people as extensions of themselves and trying to control others under the guise of helping. Believing egocentrically that everyone comes from the same level of understanding and awareness that they do, not allowing for differences… thinking there is only one way, or their way is the better way. Judging, criticizing, interfering, reacting, fearing the differences. Having faulty boundaries. Being overly invested and taking personally things that have nothing to do with them. Being attached to the “way things should be.” Feeling that if someone disagrees with them or points out problematic behavior that they are being attacked. They feel threatened and lash out. I have done this as well and still do internally struggle with boundaries. I no longer lash out so much, but I feel threatened, mostly by believing the past may repeat itself, or that I am behaving unconsciously and perpetuating what I don’t want without realizing it. And I also beat up on myself when challenged by painful life events. I am in progress/process and know that is a given here. I have accepted that there is no stasis here, gotta flow. Though I bump around begrudgingly.

What exactly are the healthiest boundaries? What do we let go of or hang on to? Where do we hang our hats? What do we base our thoughts, feelings, actions, and relationships on? Who is responsible for what? From what I have experienced, most do not stop and consider any of these questions. I have heard as an explanation…”You don’t even think about what you are doing until something negative happens, then you stop and think about it.” A Yolo mentality. Really? Wouldn’t it be healthier to examine and think about what we are doing in our lives so the pain could be addressed, healed, and maybe prevented? Maybe we could stop the same repetitive, unconscious perpetuation of hurtful behaviors. Maybe become responsible and live proactively. Maybe choose more loving, healthy thoughts, feelings, words, actions… change our behavior to promote love now and in the future?

How can I know what is healthy? I pay attention to my feelings, then examine the thought behind the feeling. Then I can make choices. First, I ask if there is anything I can change to make things more acceptable to me. What is within my power? For example. I find out that someone has lied to me. Can I control another person? Why would they wanna lie to me? Am I overreactive? Do I lash out in anger? Am I unpredictable? Maybe the person who is lying fears me because of my unruly behavior? Am I directly responsible for the lying? No, yet I am responsible for how I behave. If I am not open to communication and am angry and controlling, then maybe a person may lie to avoid drama? Does that make it right, the lying? No. And the person lying is responsible for addressing problems in the relationship instead of resorting to lying to keep the peace. And if the problems can not be resolved, then maybe change the closeness or level of the relationship instead of lying. Lying to avoid conflict is unhealthy, yet living with an angry, unpredictable person who is incapable of cooperating to improve the relationship is not healthy either. What’s the boundary here? Tricky, huh?

You love people and wanna get along, but what if nothing is working and you’ve changed all that you can within you and you’ve addressed issues to no avail? What then? Either live with it, accept that this person is the way they are, keep living with the abuse, or maybe it’s time to let go? What is most loving of you?

Also, some people will lie because they want what they want without consideration of consequences or harm to others or themselves because they don’t care for whatever reasons. They are living in fear, abusing themselves and others by lying, and have been conditioned to lie for whatever reason. It is not natural and goes against love to lie all the time. Yet lying causes all the drama we see in the world. We lie to ourselves about the fundamental nature of ourselves and reality, so we build everything upon a lie.

Some people say the world is a projection of ourselves… that everything we see is an aspect of ourselves and that avoiding negativity only perpetuates it? Well, some projections we have already dealt with and they become just that projections because it is pointless to keep reconnecting to a dead end. In fact, it abuses us. Knowing when the lesson is learned, it is time to let go of rehashing the same painful issue. Now if I have moved on and the same pattern repeats, that means the lesson is not learned, is not healed or forgiven yet.

The pain shows the way to areas of darkness that need light, healing, forgiveness, letting go. To surrender the need to attack, separate, compete and judge. To surrender to the reality of love, revealing that fear prolongs the illusion of otherness, we are all one in love. By making others wrong, we only prolong the pain. Choosing compassion, forgiving, and changing to promote love ends the cycle. Pain is a friendly reminder that a choice must be made to heal, forgive, or not. Fear or love. Forgiveness gives us the freedom to love.

I would like to reach the point of awareness where I can fully embody and realize there is truly nothing to forgive because this is all temporary and illusory, where I can see all as innocence, because if we only knew our true nature there would be no pain and nothing to fear, we’ve just forgotten and we are waking up from the dream, finding we never truly left home, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Only love is real, even here. “Forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Myself included.

I’ve got far to go because I dance around with my friend pain, knowing that it is my mind and fear causing it, I get impatient with myself, then realize that the only way is through…so I go through the process, letting go bit by bit, so the pain is diminishing, until the next lesson in forgiveness. Hopefully, it won’t be as painful next time. I figure the willingness to see a different way, being open to all possibilities and perspectives, is key to progression in healing. Counterintuitive that pain is of benefit, meh.

Michelle Miyagi
Hi! I was an RN, BSN in mental/behavioral health for 27 years. Now I'm helping empower caring people like me to prioritize themselves by maintaining healthier boundaries for more freedom, peace, and joy. I am also active in Long Covid advocacy.

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