I slept yesterday with a lump in my throat.
I’m tired of fighting back my emotions. I’m tired of pushing away the sadness that’s buried in my heart.
Life as a new mom can be tough. Giggles and coos fill my days, but exhaustion and burnout dominate my nights.
When I put my son to bed and silence presides over the bedroom is when I need support the most. I need someone to tell me that I look tired and that tomorrow is a new day. I need someone to reassure me that it gets better. But most of all, I need someone to tell me that this pain will go away.
Maybe this is my problem. I keep looking for ways to brush aside my pain. I want to hold on to my happiness, but I can’t seem to accept its opposite.
We usually have a hard time accepting undesirable emotions because it means that we’re accepting what’s hurting us. It means giving up. It means we’re forever bound to feeling miserable.
Before reading Pema Chödrön I didn’t know there was another way. I thought the only strategy for coping with emotional distress was to keep masking it.
One of the most beautiful teachings of Chödrön is that instead of running away from what’s hurting us or bothering us, we acknowledge it. Instead of brushing the pain aside, we welcome it. We don’t run away from our source of distress; we run toward it. When we do, we make peace with our hurt. We stop seeking hideaways and instead feel that our hearts have opened up the possibility of embracing our negative emotions.
Pain is not where the road ends; in fact, pain is a doorway. If we choose to cross it, we might be surprised to find that pain is not our enemy after all. It’s a teacher if we accept to be its students.
Below are seven quotes by Pema Chödrön that give me hope every single night:
“When we protect ourselves so we won’t feel pain, that protection becomes like armor, like armor that imprisons the softness of the heart.”
“Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape—all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.”
“When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience our fear of pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion, to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.”
“Instead of asking ourselves, ‘How can I find security and happiness?’ we could ask ourselves, ‘Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can I stay present to the ache of loss or disgrace—disappointment in all its many forms—and let it open me?’ This is the trick.”
“If we’re willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be eliminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation. This is the first step on the path.”
“Someone needs to encourage us not to brush aside what we feel. Not to be ashamed of the love and grief that it arouses in us. Not to be afraid of pain. Someone needs to encourage us: that this soft spot in us could be awakened, and that to do this would change our lives.”
“The only way to ease our pain is to experience it fully. Learn to stay with uneasiness, learn to stay with the tightening, so that the habitual chain reaction doesn’t continue to rule your life.”