Episode 34: Pain is Pain
I’m Hannah Coles and you are listening to LOVE AT HOME – Episode 34: Pain is pain
I want to talk about something that comes up pretty frequently in my work and just daily conversations. There’s some mixup or confusion around the idea that for your pain to be valid it has to meet certain requirements. That what you’re feeling doesn’t really matter or shouldn’t matter because it’s not huge or monumental.
A lot of people think they don’t have the right to complain or to feel pain because of their circumstances.
They have a home. Their family is all in good health. They have job and food on the table and clean water to drink. They should be happy all the time. They don’t have the right to complain because in other parts of the world there are people REALLY suffering. So they resist and push down their feelings, their pain and then shame themselves because they should be grateful. They think what’s wrong with me? I shouldn’t complain.
The problem with this is resisting and diminishing your story. It’s adding insult to injury because you shouldn’t have the injury in the first place. But here’s the thing, we all do. We all have some areas of pain that we feel and PAIN is PAIN. There’s no invisible line that says, you can’t feel pain unless you’ve suffered horrendous acts or had really terrible things happen to you or your family. You don’t have the right to complain if you haven’t REALLY suffered. This thinking is so backwards because pain is pain. It’s creating unrest in your life and the more you resist it, the more painful it becomes.
Everyone is suffering from something. Everyone.
We all have our own battles we’re fighting.
Henry B. Eyring said, “When I was a young man, I served as counselor to a wise district president in the Church…I remember this advice he gave: “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time’…Not only was he right, but I have learned over the years that he was too low in his estimate.”
Everyone has some trouble they’re facing. Everyone has something they’re struggling with and pain they’re feeling.
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
― C.S. Lewis
Today I hope to offer to you that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling.
To validate you in your pain and to not minimize it. I want to encourage you to acknowledge it for what it is so that you can SEE it and once you see it and are made aware of it and all it’s facets only then can you decide what you want to do with it.
I want to teach you that pain is normal and a part of our mortal experience. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. It doesn’t make you ungrateful. It makes you human and more connected with your fellowmen instead of divided by it. Today, I’ll teach you that this pain you’re feeling is a gift and one to welcome instead of resist.
So first, let me tell you emphatically that if you’re feeling unrest, discouraged, hurt, and pain, it’s okay. You’re normal.
It’s okay to have those feelings. When I talk about pain I’m really talking about anything that is creating unrest in you right now. It can be the pain that comes from raising kids, and trying to teach, dress, feed, and support these young people into the goal of strong individuals. There’s a lot of pain that comes with this role. Even if they’re healthy. Even if there’s plenty of food to eat.
There’s pain when money is scarce. When you don’t know what’s going on with work. There’s pain when your friend stops calling you and you can’t figure out why. There’s pain when your family isn’t showing up the way you’d hope they would. There’s pain when you hear someone talking about you in a not so upbeat manner. There’s pain when you’re uncomfortable in your skin and how your body feels. There’s pain when you’re in discord with family, your spouse, your kids. There’s pain from feeling subpar and not enough. There’s pain when feel worthless and less than and different than others. There’s pain when it seems like everyone is getting together without you or having these picture perfect relationships and you’re left wondering why you don’t have that yet.
Pain is pain.
It doesn’t matter the caliber or degree. In fact, they shouldn’t even be in comparison to one another. Two people could have the same outward circumstances and the degree of pain is very different for the two. Not even close to comparing because each person has their own background, sets of beliefs, thoughts, and feelings. We need to take the comparison out of it.
One of the things I wanted to address today was to invite you to drop the “at least” mentality. “At least you didn’t lose your house.”, “At least you still have your family”, “At least you’re family is still talking to you.” Then those “at leasts” are followed by a comparison of sorts. “When I…” then they’ll tell you why your challenge isn’t really a challenge because they’ve had it so much worse and while this is generally meant to offer hope. Most of the time it just tells you that you shouldn’t be complaining at all. You don’t have the right to complain, look what I just went through.”
I remember talking to a friend of mine well over a decade ago and she was upset because she was talking to another friend about her kids and just feeling the feels of motherhood and this other friend actually told her she didn’t have the right to complain because she had been through a divorce and now as a single mother motherhood is way harder.
So not disputing that, I’m sure to her, that challenge was a challenge and painful. But just because she’s suffering and struggling doesn’t make the other struggle invalid.
You don’t have to justify your pain.
You don’t have to explain to others WHY you’re feeling the way you’re feeling as if to make a case for why you deserve the right to feel what you’re feeling.
You have the right to it simply because you have it.
Ezra Taft Benson once said, “Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.”
Pain is pain and all pain needs to be addressed. It’s not helpful to minimize it or shame it away. All that does is add more pain.
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
― C.S. Lewis
Pain is there to bring you into the present moment where things need to addressed and looked at. So what we need to do is be open to the pain. So much of the time we feel this discord inside and we try to push it away. I shouldn’t feel this way. I should be happy all the time. But you’re just expending more energy trying to push it down and hide it and pretty soon it’s going to explode. If you remember my podcast on Feelings and the Four I talk a lot about this.
One thing you can do with this pain, this feeling is resisting. This is what a lot of us do. We don’t want to feel it, we shouldn’t feel it so we just push it down low. It’s the visual of holding a giant beach ball under water. You don’t want to look at it, so you just push it under the water and think, out of sight out of mind. But you’re still using up energy and thoughts to hold it underwater. Then the inevitable happens. It’s going to erupt and when it does, it’s a huge thing.
We have this adult temper tantrum. We take it out on someone or something that wouldn’t normally set you off so much but it’s because you’ve been resisting so much that it’s been building up and now you have this explosion where not only does that pain surface but everything else comes pouring out too. Your brain goes on hyper speed to tell you every little thing that’s been accumulating and building and all at once it just comes out creating an even bigger scene than just allowing yourself to acknowledge and process the pain as it comes.
So first things first, acknowledge that it’s okay to feel pain. Know that everyone feels pain.
Second, there’s no measurement stick validating if this is a real legitimate pain.
Third, we need to drop the “At leasts” and drop the temptation to compare our pain to others. There’s no comparison. I do believe that looking up to others and how they overcame their pain is helpful. It can be inspiring and offer hope but to compare and think that somehow yours is less than and unworthy isn’t helpful.
Okay, so now what?
I have pain. It’s okay to have pain. It’s okay to have my pain and what I’m feeling.
Pain is a gift.
It doesn’t feel like a gift but it absolutely is. Pain is part of the 50/50. It’s for sure part of the opposition in all things. We need the pain so we can also understand and comprehend the good. But pain is a gift in another way too.
Pain offers us an insight into what’s really going on in our minds.
Pain is real and created because of a sentence in our minds.
We think that pain is created by our circumstances so we try to fix the external that we live in. Sp we try to change or fix the outside when we need to spend some time focusing on the internal so we can actually see what the problem is and why it’s a problem in the first place.
This is why pain is pain. I saw the saddest but cutest video clip from People magazine online a while back of this little boy who was just in a fit of tears crying to his mom who told him that it’s warm in the spring and it was the first day of spring and still freezing outside and he was so upset and just had huge alligator tears running down his cheeks.
We can laugh and think it’s cute because we know warmer weather will come soon. Spring isn’t supposed to warm yet getting there but still cool. It would be easy to diminish his pain because it’s not really valid. To us, we’re like, it’s okay kid, stop your crying. But to him, his pain is pain and real and valid and worth addressing. Just like your pain is real and valid and worth addressing.
His pain came from an expectation.
A thought. He thought it was supposed to be warm and who knows what else she had in his mind about what he was going to do or wear or what his world was supposed to look like but when it was still freezing he created pain for himself by a sentence in his mind.
We create pain for ourselves by our expectations, by sentences in our minds.
It’s not helpful to say to yourself and others, “it’s okay kid, stop your crying” – you need to look at what’s creating the pain in the first place.
Pain is a gift because it brings up a lot of our limiting beliefs and thoughts. It brings up insecurities that only come out when you’re in this state. It allows you an opportunity into your soul that you wouldn’t have otherwise. But we miss this opportunity most of the time because we’re too quick to wish it away.
“Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.”
― David Richo
The second we don’t feel good we want to change something. We want to change our circumstances. We want to feel better. A lot of clients and people who know the model really well think, “oh, it’s my thoughts. It’s caused by a sentence in my brain. I just need to change that sentence.” So they resist the pain. They try to avoid it by not looking at it and looking at something else instead. This is also where the, “just think happy thoughts” comes in and gets in the way. Because the thought isn’t gone. A portion of you still believes it and until you look it and understand why you’re thinking it, it’ll stay there and continue to create pain for you.
I know it’s uncomfortable to feel pain. No one likes it. But it’s in these moments the most growth can take place. It’s in the struggle. As Roosevelt said, “It’s the man in the arena” –
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
It’s in the pain that we find the growth.
It’s while you, the man in the arena are struggling through to the growth and accomplishment over our pain. It’s not about the critic, the ones who offer the “at leasts”. It’s only when you allow yourself to be in the arena in the first place where you can find that awareness into what is causing the pain and the pain always stems from your thoughts.
Which is great news because if you’re the one thinking it, you can choose a different path when you’re ready. But you have to stay in the arena long enough to see what thoughts are creating that pain.
When you’re too quick to rush out of it or pretend like it’s not there, or diminish the pain by thinking you shouldn’t feel that way you miss out on discovery. We want to rush out of it because it doesn’t feel good. Because we make it mean all kinds of things about ourselves that don’t feel good. But what if you decided that you could look at these thoughts, this pain with compassion and curiosity?
When you can acknowledge that the pain is caused by a sentence in your mind and then you can be compassionate with yourself and curious about why you’re choosing to believe that in the first place. This is where change happens. This is where transformation happens.
One of my clients struggled with anxiety and felt a lot of shame because she couldn’t do the things she used to be able to do. She felt like something was wrong with her and it was embarrassing to her. She thought that other people would judge her and so she kept silent about her pain. She diminished her pain by saying to herself that this was a ridiculous thing to struggle over it. But doing this only created more pain. It added shame and guilt onto her human experience.
I love what Brene Brown says, “What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.”
Let yourself be human.
It’s okay to acknowledge the pain you’re feeling. There’s no bar that says it needs to be THIS big for it to be valid. It’s already valid.
Own that’s it’s real. That’s it okay to feel pain. Own that it’s your thoughts that are creating it. Own that it’s optional. When you own all of this you can finally look at it, look at what’s causing the pain, what thoughts you’re choosing to believe and then with curiosity and compassion, you can question them.
Let me give you an example, one woman really struggled with feelings of inadequacy and guilt. She had a great life. She had a happy family, a healthy family but she just felt unfulfilled and inadequate. She felt guilty for these thoughts because she should be happy. There are people in her ward struggling with so much more. She should be grateful. She should be happy. But all those thoughts did added more pain onto her already hurt self. So now she felt guilt and shame for being human.
When she could finally look at herself from a place of compassion and curiosity she could see that she felt that way because she had a whole slew of expectations that weren’t being met. She expected her house to be clean. She expected her kids to be grateful. She expected the people that she served to notice and appreciate her. She expected her friends and visiting teachers – now ministering sisters but back then it was visiting teachers to notice her and ask her how she was doing but they didn’t. Her kids were young and messy. It wasn’t that people didn’t notice her or that her house was a mess or any of that that created the pain. It was the expectation in the first place that created it. It was her thoughts that created the pain. But for a long time when she told herself that it wasn’t a worthy pain and she shouldn’t feel it just created more. She had to acknowledge her pain. She had to see own that she was creating it by a sentence in her mind. Then she could make real progress and change.
There was a conference talk a few years ago that talked about pain and the blessing it is because it affords us an opportunity to notice that something is amiss. When you have a toothache it’s a blessing because it alerts you that something is wrong and maybe infected. It needs attention and healing. When you burn yourself that pain is a blessing so you can move away from the very thing creating the pain.
When you feel pain in your life it’s a blessing and gift because it’s alerting you to know that something is amiss and needs your attention.
Orson F. Whitney wrote: “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. … It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire.”
Please don’t turn away from pain. Don’t think it’s too small or insignificant and shouldn’t “count” – pain is pain and it’s just a signal to you that some thought work needs to be done. That’s it’s time to look inward and acknowledge what’s going on.
So let me break this down for you. When you’re feeling upset. You’re feeling pain inside, sadness, negativity, pain. I want you to acknowledge it.
I’m feeling ….and name it and then say, “and it’s okay”
Then allow yourself to feel it. Don’t move away from it. Don’t try and fix it or make yourself feel better. It’s just a feeling in your body. It’s a vibration in your body and it’s okay. You can totally feel a vibration.
Acknowledge that the feeling is caused and created by a sentence in your mind and it’s okay. It’s human.
Be compassionate with yourself and just allow yourself to feel. It’s only here in this inquiry that you can start to shed light on why it’s a problem and why it’s causing the pain. Pain itself isn’t the problem. It’s all part of the human experience. It’s part of the deal and the 50/50 principle.
Be willing to feel pain and experience it as part of being alive. Don’t diminish it or lessen it because it’s not as huge as someone elses, it’s not as visible as someone elses. Pain is pain and it’s an indicator that it’s time to look inward and inquire.
Acknowledge it. Allow it. Own it. Take responsibility for the thought creating it. Then with compassion and curiosity can you start to dissect it and make real lasting change.
Pain is part of the package.
I love Erying’s advice, “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time”
We don’t need to try and fix other people. We need to offer compassion and understanding that pain is real and an invitation to grow and evolve. Everyone feels pain. What you’re feeling is real, it’s valid, and an opportunity to move onward and upward towards your best self. Don’t miss that opportunity. Acknowledge it. Embrace it and start inquiring.
Okay, as always I encourage you to take advantage of my free mini session and I can help you out with this or anything else you need to work on. Sign up for that on my website www.thecatalystcoaching.com under the work with me tab and I’ll talk to you all next week!
People magazine clip of little boy crying because it’s still cold in the spring
Quotes that I LOVE but didn’t add in the show:
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
― Marcus Aurelius
“Time doesn’t heal emotional pain, you need to learn how to let go.”
― Roy T. Bennett