September 7, 2020

Pain is Part of Being Fully Human: What we Can (& Should) Do with our Suffering.


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Some losses are insignificant to many while life-altering to others.

Some hurts are difficult to overcome, no matter how hard we try to mask the pain. Some wounds are so deep that they never completely heal. Some pain makes getting out of bed and finding a reason to push through each day a challenge.

But we rise in the morning, take a deep breath, and put on a smile. We take care of our families and friends. We work. We make our commitments and fulfill them. We push and push, finding moments of happiness that don’t last for very long.

Everyone suffers differently. There are those who do so in silence, building a wall so tall and strong that nothing and no one can break it down. There are those who get angry, channeling that upset into productive, positive action. Then there are those who allow their spirit to sink into the depths of hell, not tending to themselves, not having the energy to care, and wanting each day to bring some relief that will fuel their motivation and reactivate their desire to pursue a better quality of life.

And the latter intrigues me. Human beings are complex, intricately wired individuals who harbor unique personality and character traits. What may inspire one to take on the world can crush another.

Experiences, resilience, grit, mental toughness, abandonment issues, fear of rejection, overinflated egos, emotional intelligence, hypersensitivity, support systems, histrionic tendencies—these are just some of the things that can impact which direction a person will take.

The narcissist may perceive herself as perfect, blaming the world around her for how wrong her life is. The victim may lay down and retreat, giving his power to someone else by blaming himself for whatever has happened to him. The fixer may blame herself for trying so hard to help someone get to a better place who she later learned was a chronic mess with no desire to change his or her life. And the sensitive person may isolate, feed into self-destructive behaviors, and pretend to live, but is merely surviving behind closed doors.

Why is it that some of us, when hurt or wronged or rejected, suffer loss in such self-destructive ways? Is it a lack of self-respect, self-esteem, or confidence? Or is it that we are empaths with sensitive souls who feel pain on a much deeper level? How is it that some can close a door, move forward, and never look back while others carry the disappointment and hurt with them, having to work so diligently to reestablish their equilibrium?

Others tell them, “Snap out of it. You should be over this by now.” And the person him or herself may think the same, but just hasn’t fully processed their pain and hurt or come to terms with it, not quite ready to live again.

Then there comes a time when we are tired of being tired. Tired of lacking energy. Tired of surviving, going through the motions of daily living without any joy or excitement. No matter how grateful we are for all that we have and those we love, we are suffering deep within.

When we are in emotional pain, that is the time to be kind to ourselves. It is the time to take care of the one person you can depend on, the one person you can rely on as a friend—it is time to take care of you.

There is an idiom about kicking a man when he’s down, which is defined as criticizing, exploiting, insulting, or otherwise treating badly someone who has already suffered a setback or is in a vulnerable position. The truth is most of us wouldn’t do that to a stranger or a friend—so why would we do it to ourselves?

Pain and suffering are inevitable for anyone who chooses to live fully. People hurt us. People let us down. People lie to us. People don’t choose us. People leave us.

So the next time you’re in pain—take good care of you. Respect your mind, body, and soul because you are worth it. You deserve it.

Eat nutritiously, exercise, read, write, draw, paint, dance, sing, rise early, take in nature, or help another. You may need one splurge day to wallow in your hurt, eat ice cream and nachos, not shower, stay in your pajamas, cry—but limit yourself to a day, or maybe a weekend. After that, you risk 20 pounds, a toxic liver, and low self-esteem. Then the arduous task of getting back our healthy, fit, energetic selves is a much more difficult and longer journey.

Stop the hurt where it started—otherwise, you will continue to injure yourself, slow down your recovery time, and stay stuck in a cycle of pain. When you’re hurt is when you need to recruit your best self—so be the love, care, and respect you deserve.

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