A question I get asked a lot in my work as an energy healer and meditation instructor is: How can we tell the difference between just wallowing in our pain and feeling our own pain in order to clear it by bringing the darkness to the light for healing?
This is such an amazing question.
It is a question that reflects mindfulness, willingness, spiritual courage, and an ability to be self-aware.
One of the main concepts of healing pain and trauma is, ‘We can’t heal, what we can’t feel.”
Or as Carl Jung puts it, “The only way out is through.”
Over the course of our journey, we have repressed our pain. And for very good reason—it hurts.
The instinct to avoid feeling pain is brilliant. When we are children our pain is often too much. We really can’t face the pain of our trauma and misery—it is simply too much.
But then, as we become older, the repressed pain starts to wear down the quality of our lives. It starts to control us and result in outcomes that aren’t what we want anymore.
This is where we need to start to use conscious intention to go back and feel the pain we repressed so that it can make a permanent move, first from our subconscious to our conscious mind, and then fully out of our systems all together.
This means while the old trauma is moving through, we might find ourselves exhausted, feeling crabby, depressed, irritated, agitated, and all those other yucky feelings we mostly try to avoid.
Allowing yourself to feel what you need to feel in order to heal is the best gift you can give yourself.
And of course that brings us back to the question of how to tell if we are just lying in bed wallowing in our own victimhood and misery, or if we are moving old trauma out of the subconscious so it can come to the light and be healed.
Here is how I put it.
When we are wallowing, we believe the pain is true. We believe we are victims and that everything bad that has happened to us has ruined our lives and nothing will ever improve because we are intrinsically flawed. This is the best route for staying stuck in our pain.
When we are crying and raging but see that the pain is simply a habitual pattern that stems from the past but doesn’t belong anymore, then we can clear it because we aren’t attached and identified with the pain. When we can see ourselves as separate from the trauma even while we are feeling it, then we give ourselves the opportunity to become our authentic, true selves free of the trauma.
In both circumstances, the physical sensations are uncomfortable.
In both circumstances, the pain is real.
And, in both circumstances, we might very well feel like it is too much, and we can’t handle it.
But, when we are wallowing we believe all the pain is true, and when we are healing we know the pain is temporary—and we know it is possible to clear the pain and be freer then we ever have before.
Everyone has the ability to make this choice—but it isn’t easy.
There is a reason we need courage on this path, and it is so we can stand up to our own resistance and fear and say we are going to keep healing even if it is difficult, even if it is confusing, even if we have no clue where our personal journey is going.
If you have found yourself in the feeling sorry, wallowing trap, that is normal; no self-criticism is needed. And the cool thing is, a new choice at how to approach your pain can be made at any time—like even today or maybe tomorrow.
Reaching out for help and support in my opinion is crucial. The journey is innately too lonely to try to do it alone. Having someone who can kindly point out when we are stuck in wallowing and help steer us in the direction and feeling to heal is one of the best gifts we can receive.
Healing is available to everyone. Pain and trauma do not need to control us. But it is a choice. A choice each person needs to make by choosing how to view the pain that is inherent in our everyday human lives.
Author: Ruth Lera
Image: elephant journal Instagram
Editor: Travis May