Episode 8: How to Feel Less Pain
Let’s face it, no one is getting through life unscathed. We love, we care, we are passionate about things and because there’s opposition in all things we’re going to hurt, be sad, feel disappointment…pain, right? But what if I told you that the majority of the pain you’re feeling is OPTIONAL? In this episode I teach you about two kinds of pain and how to feel LESS of it in your life.
LDS Life Coach Hannah Coles
Episode 8: How to feel less Pain
Hey, welcome back everyone! So glad you’re here with me.
Have you ever had one of those weeks where there seems to be a reoccurring theme? kept surfacing in different coaching sessions, conversations, just little things here and there that kept popping up and I thought I think I want to talk about that. So I moved things around so that I could bring this topic front and center to help all of you out with learning how to feel LESS pain.
Pain is pain and it’s part of our mortal journey. We’re supposed to experience pain but there is a way to feel LESS of it.
I know last week we talked about negative emotions and why they’re not only necessary but they actually serve us in our lives and now this week we’re talking about pain. Another fun one. I promise you though, this is so good and if you can learn how to do this and be able to identify the type of pain you’re feeling, you’ll be able to minimize majority of the amount of pain in your life and I can say that not knowing your life’s experiences and circumstances because there is one type of pain that is unnecessary and 100% optional.
I know, you’re thinking, “WHY would anyone choose pain on purpose?” That’s crazy! But I’m betting you’ve chosen it before and just didn’t realize it was optional. So I’m going to shed some light on that today and help you all out.
First I want to just say that we’re supposed to experience negative emotions in our lives. It’s all part of the opposition in all things, what I like to call or refer to as the 50/50. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like 50/50 – maybe it’s 80/20 – either life is grand and you feel like it’s only 20% negative and opposition or the other 80% life is hard and 20% daisies and rainbows but I like to just put it all in the 50/50 range.
Which is really helpful throughout the day when things start to go haywire or down a path that you wouldn’t have purposely chosen on your own, instead of worrying or thinking the day is ruined you can just chalk it up to the 50/50 and think or say, “Well, there’s the 50/50 part” like, I knew you were showing up at some point today, welcome.
It’s not a problem, it’s just okay, and here’s that part of the day. Totally fine.
Problems tend to arise when it’s not okay. When we make the problems problems. We make the circumstances mean all kinds of things about us or about others and then we get all in our heads about how things shouldn’t have been that way or it should have been a different way. This isn’t how the day was supposed to look and we create pain. More pain for ourselves because of our thoughts and the way we’re choosing to interpret the circumstances.
There are two kinds of pain.
One is useful the other is not and never will be.
The first is called, Productive Pain.
It is exactly what it sounds like, it’s productive, it’s healing, it’s cleansing, it’s helping your move forward. This pain is actually serving you and helping you to evolve to a higher you and a more refined you. These life experiences help you to decide who you want to be, what your values and priorities are, and are what direction you want to focus on.
When a loved one passes away you want to grieve. I read a quote this past week that said, “Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.”
You want to experience this pain.
You want to embrace sadness and loss. You want to feel sad on purpose. This is productive pain. You want to give yourself time to feel it, you don’t want to rush through it. There’s a really beautiful song by Hillary Weeks called, Just let me cry. She walks you through productive pain so elegantly. She sings: “I have felt joy the kind that makes my heart want to sing And so my tears are not a surrender. I know I’ll feel that way again. But for now, for this moment, Just let me cry.”
This is the pain you don’t want fixed. You don’t want people to come and cheer you up because they can’t. You choose to feel sad. You choose to cry. You choose to feel deeply and purposefully. This is productive pain.
This is acknowledging the facts and choosing to feel pain on purpose.
Now there’s non-productive pain.
This pain isn’t helpful. It’s not cleansing. This pain will keep you stuck and not moving forward. This pain feels 1000 times worse than productive pain because there’s this idea that things could and should have been different. That maybe YOU could have prevented things, changed things, and now it’s your fault.
If we go back to the example of the passing of a loved one, this pain shows up looking like grieving over all the coulda, shoulda, woulda’s. I should have called more. I shouldn’t have talked to them like that. I could have done more, been more, said more, contributed more.
This pain is blaming.
It’s entertaining the idea that things could have been different
if only you… or if only they…
The problem with this is that you’re arguing with reality. Thinking these thoughts won’t change the circumstances. It just adds insult to injury. It leaves you with guilt, shame, doubt, anger, resentment, sometimes hate even.
It’s believing that this shouldn’t have happened. This pain is worse than the productive pain that hurts in and of itself but this pain, there’s a victim and a villain. This pain there’s trying with all your might to rewrite, change, alter reality and the facts. This pain is miserable and it will never serve you.
Byron Katie says, “When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.”
Productive pain is accepting reality.
It might not feel good. You might choose to feel negative emotions on purpose. It’s the not accepting reality that hurts and we suffer.
I see these two kinds of pain show up in my clients and they think they’re supposed to get to happy and I tell them, no, it’s okay to feel disappointed. It’s okay to feel sad. Be accepting of what is. Don’t argue with reality but don’t add despair to the mix either by thinking and believing things could have been different.
One client was experiencing both kinds of pain with her daughter. She spent a lot of time and money helping her daughter prepare for her future. She volunteered countless hours for her to have opportunities to get into college. She saved and paid for her daughter to take special classes and test prep so she could do well on the SAT’s and ACT’s. She prepared her daughter for this amazing college life and helped her have all the qualifications and prerequisites to get into an amazing college. Only when it was college time her daughter didn’t want to take that path. She didn’t want to attend college at all and wanted to take a job working in a trade instead.
This was upsetting, devastating to her mother. Here’s where the two pains come into play. She felt disappointed and sad that she thought her daughter was going to take one path and she didn’t. She can grieve over that future she envisioned for her. That she had prepared her for. That she had invested in. This pain is productive pain. It’s grieving and mourning a loss.
Okay, now the non-productive pain.
If only I tried harder. Maybe if I didn’t send her to that one summer program she wouldn’t have met her friend and they wouldn’t be going into this future together. I shouldn’t have given her a phone. I should have been more strict. I thought about moving once and I didn’t and now this is happening.
It’s all the talk and thoughts of the past that has already happened. She’s putting herself and her daughter in victim mode and putting the friend, the class, the area as the villain. This isn’t helpful or productive because you have absolutely no power to change or alter anything that happened in the past. She is arguing with reality and she’s losing each time she does it. This keeps her stuck, spinning in all the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s. It’s not helpful. It’s not doing anything for you but making you feel bad, guilty, angry, and at war with these people and thoughts in your mind.
There are times that you will be disappointed and you’ll choose to be disappointed because things aren’t how you thought they’d be. But there’s a difference between grieving and accepting reality and believing that if you just think hard enough you can go back and rewrite the past so that it’ll change the present.
It’s much easier and helpful to just accept what is.
You don’t have to be happy about it. You can think, “Well, I thought it was going to be different but I guess not.”, “I thought they were going to react differently but I guess not.” Then choose how you want to feel about it.
I had another client who was really excited about this good news she had received. Things were just looking amazing in her life right then and she called her family to share the news and they weren’t ecstatic like she was hoping. In fact, they were disapproving and judgmental about it, jealous even.
This threw her quite a bit because she was so elated until she talked to them. She started to dabble in non-productive pain – I shouldn’t have called them. I should have just kept it to myself. Thinking that these thoughts will take away the pain you’re already feeling. It doesn’t. It just adds to the pain.
She could feel both happy and disappointed at the same time. She didn’t need to keep running with the shoulda’s.
She can be disappointed that her family wasn’t as delighted in her good news. I’d choose to be disappointed in that on purpose too. I’d mourn for that opportunity we could have shared. You can think, “Well, I thought that was going to be different. But I guess not and it’s okay” – it’s okay because you can’t change reality. They have their agency. They get to choose what they want to think about things and it has nothing to do with you.
What others think and say has nothing to do with you. So be happy for you. Be ecstatic and elated and share your good news not because of them but because you want to. Because that’s who you are. Because you choose to invite the opportunity to share in this moment. It’s totally up to them if they choose to join you. So if they don’t, it’s okay. You can choose disappointment over what you thought was going to happen. But you can also be accepting that they have their agency and they’re choosing to think and feel something different.
It’s possible to feel both happy and disappointed at the same time.
Think about your own lives and where this shows up. There’s the disappointment of what you thought was going to happen. You can mourn for that, grieve for that, process that. Allow the negative emotions to be there, to run their full cycle through your body and accept that it’s all part of the 50/50. It’s when you start believing that things could and should have been different.
They should have been happy for me.
This could have gone differently.
These thoughts aren’t serving you. They’re keeping you in non-productive pain. You don’t know if they should have been happy for you or not. We’re not them. There’s a difference between wanting them to show up differently and needing them to show up differently.
I would want my family to be happy for me if I had amazing news. But it’s when I NEED them to be happy for me so that I can be happy too is problematic because they have their own agency and we don’t know what they should or shouldn’t do. So want all you want but make sure you’re allowing yourself to feel what you need and want to feel too.
Be happy. Be excited. Be elated.
And when they don’t show up the way you thought they were going to you can mourn that vision and accept reality for what it is – what is happening, what did happen. You can choose disappointment and excitement. “Well, I thought they would have been happy for me. I thought wrong and that’s okay. I don’t need them to be happy for me because I’m happy for me.”
This is productive. You’re still moving forward without needing them to be any different than they are. You can still love them and take what happened as information. You don’t need to add a story to it or extra drama about why they’re not happy. It’s probably because I … You don’t know that and it’s really not helpful – it’s exactly what it sounds like, NON-productive pain. You’re not getting anywhere and in the meantime you’re creating and adding so much suffering for yourself and why would you want to do that to yourself?
Believing things could have gone a different way isn’t helpful because they didn’t.
You can simply think, “Well that happened, now what?” Or “That happened what can I do to never have that happen again?” Both questions are forward focused. They’re accepting reality and what is and wanting to move forward controlling the only thing they can, themselves.
Life is 50/50. It’s amazing and challenging. I love what is written in James 1:2
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into many afflictions” –
He’s not saying you have to be happy – joy is not happy and I’m going to talk about that in an upcoming podcast Joy is allowing the 50/50. It’s okay that things aren’t the way we pictured them. If we really got what we wanted we’d never grow because we don’t purposely choose pain. But when we have the opportunity to experience the fullness of humanity we can choose to feel what we need and want to feel. We can process productive pain and count it all joy. All part of the human experience and it’s supposed to be this way. I thought it looked different but I guess not and that’s okay.
Keep the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s out of it
and you’ll minimize so much pain that isn’t helpful, it’s not serving you, it’s only contributing and creating more suffering and pain.
Okay, that’s what I’ve got for you all this week! Don’t forget to leave a review on itunes for me – I love and read each one – thank you for everyone that already left one, you guys are awesome! And if you’re struggling with this concept as always I encourage and recommend setting up a free consult call with me on my website: www.thecatalystcoaching.com – I don’t know how long this will be available so jump on it while you can!
Talk to you next week!
Ep: 7 Opposition in all things
Hilary Weeks, Just let me cry link to YouTube