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Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
I was having a really great conversation with a girlfriend last night about feeling hesitant about getting back out there because she didn’t want to open herself to getting hurt again.
It made me think of the lengths we go as humans to protect ourselves from pain.
When I think of all the ways I’ve tried to protect myself from getting hurt, it’s pretty impressive: whether it’s shutting down and putting walls around myself and my heart, trying to be controlling or manipulating, projecting onto others, using sarcasm, blaming, and shaming others instead of looking at my own faults. Dating but not looking for anything serious, or dating and looking for something serious but choosing partners who obviously aren’t ready, or supporting the crap out of someone else and not accepting support myself—and the list goes on.
It’s as though we spend all of this energy afforded to us by our imaginations literally imagining the worst possible scenarios based on the pain from our pasts.
Why do we let the past build out the framework for our future?
Why is it so hard sometimes to live in the possibility that something might actually work out?
How many times do we cut ourselves off from joy or connection without even realizing it?
I’m starting to realize we can’t actually protect ourselves from getting hurt. It’s more that we are all human, and we are inevitably going to hurt each other.
I mean, even the most well-intentioned, enlightened souls on this planet are going to f*ck up. We are going to make mistakes, and we are going to say the wrong thing, we are going to take things personally, we are going to project our sh*t onto each other—it’s all part of how we are learning.
But what would happen if we focused our energy on the tools to deal with what happens after we feel hurt?
When it rains, we don’t try to stop the rain; we just get out our umbrella. We might complain about it, but we know rain is a part of life, so we don’t waste a bunch of energy trying to fight it. We adapt and move on.
What if we could communicate honestly and openly with each other about how we feel?
What if we created space for each other to explore our reactions without judgement? What if we could not make everything about us and acknowledge when our wounds appear—even if it’s messy and we don’t quite understand why yet?
So instead of committing myself to the avoidance of pain, I want to commit myself to explore what message my pain has for me because I feel that if I’m willing to listen, these things will pass and won’t seem so scary anymore.
Hell, we might even get a rainbow out of it.
When we avoid feeling our pain, we are, in essence, avoiding ourselves.
And the most worthwhile parts of our being are the ones that make us feel uncomfortable—let’s explore these parts.