There is no coming to consciousness without pain. ~Carl Jung
This year has been a difficult one, to say the least. It’s amazing though how sometimes we work very hard at not feeling the pain a situation brings rather than work on actually growing from it.
This came to be my focus towards the end of 201o. I was and still am going through a very difficult phase in my life. I found myself in my late 20s, job searching, heartbroken, broke, and lost. I began to pick up smoking again. I partied like if it was 1999 and I acted like I was a recent high school graduate. It was the end of the year and I was back home so it was easy for me to disconnect from my NYC reality. However, on any given day, sitting in my parent’s backyard, I felt the pain begin to seep back in. I began to notice the amount effort that I put into numbing the pain.
As 2011 began, I decided that it was time to … soak in it. As the distractions faded, the discomfort arrived. It was a mixture of boredom and sadness. One random Friday night, I gave it my all. I sat down to watch a movie by myself. I did not want to see it. I wanted to get up and call someone but I stayed. I purposely picked a romantic movie. I needed to get over the break up drama. I needed to accept that this beautiful nauseating love story that I was about to watch was not present in my life. And I wanted to feel some sort of acceptance.
After the movies, I began to read. Then I began to write again. I tried picking up habits that I had been dreading. I began to find myself in these things. The pain was there but I actually felt like myself again. As I began to write, I began to ask more and more questions. And slowly without notice, I found myself carrying the answers to my questions rather than pain.
Eckhart Tolle said something about this in The Power of Now. In summary, he said that we don’t pay enough attention to our emotional/mental pains. If they were as obvious as our physical pains, we’d need to address them but we choose not to because the pain is not immediate. When I heard this, it made me think long and hard about how often I suffer and how I rarely can pinpoint why I feel the pain that I do.
We need to learn to face the pain. If something happened Monday, face it Monday or Tuesday. Try to. Let the pain sit and then let go. That way, you’re ready for next week’s drama. If you let sit there though, and go out and party, next week’s drama will layer on this week’s and by the time you get around to it, you’re going to have a lot of digging to do.
Next time you are irritated, sit down and really think about what’s bothering you. Ask yourself the questions that you need to ask. Why does this bother me? Why does this matter? You need to understand that although the answers are not immediate, you’re allowing yourself to respond this time.
Pain is necessary. It is a red flag that gets overlooked way too often. We need pain to change, to grow. So next time you notice yourself avoiding the growing pains in your life, remember, you need it. They’ll help you understand if you need to walk away, keep going, or change directions. Everything you need in life is already inside. You just have to listen.