The Kindness of Pain by Becky Henderson
This blog post was brought to you by Becky Henderson, Transformation Coach, Licensed Professional Counselor, Writer, and Speaker
I’ve worked with thousands of clients over the years. I have one right now experiencing extreme anxiety and fear on a daily basis. In one session recently she threw up her arms and yelled, “What’s wrong with me?!!” I looked at her and said, “Nothing is wrong with you. Everything is operating according to its design. Yes, something is going on, but the pain you’re in is just the symptom, the effect; the pain is a perfect messenger. Your body, heart and spirit are trying to get your attention. If you listen, you’ll start noticing what it is that needs to be addressed. Stop fighting the signal and you’ll get to the source.” Consider that pain is the “Check Engine” light of our lives.
But what is our usual response to pain? Get away from it! Make it stop! The Check Engine light comes on and we pull out the connecting wires so that pesky light will stop bothering us. But that pesky light is actually kindness; it’s our body and soul asking for help before severe damage is caused.
I spent a day in Thailand with people suffering from leprosy. Most of them were missing fingers and toes and had terrible scars on their limbs. I learned something about leprosy there: leprosy is the absence of pain. When something harmful happens, the body and brain no longer communicate, there is no signal of pain, so a person with leprosy has no sense that they need to stop. They don’t know their hand is burning on a hot stove or that they just cut their foot on glass. By the time they notice, another part of their body has been destroyed…and they never felt a thing.
You and I live in a culture of intentional leprosy when it comes to pain; all forms of pain. Really. We see pain as the bad guy, so we silence its voice and cut ourselves off from the message it is trying to deliver. We are so creative in how we go about it. Some ways are more socially accepted than others. Some ways are even endorsed by doctors; that must make them okay. We disconnect from our pain by distraction and numbing. We’ll use anything—work, relationships, TV, porn, affairs, sex, food, drugs, alcohol, kids, prescriptions, fame, hobbies, money.
Whenever we are busy blocking, covering and avoiding pain, we are not dealing with the source of the pain. If the source is ignored, it will continue to destroy us from the inside out…while we never feel a thing. Silently the damage continues because we disconnect from the only thing that would get our attention: pain. It’s the source of the pain that poses the greatest threat to our being, not the things we do to disconnect from it. Sure, our methods to disconnect from pain can themselves be damaging, but the greater danger is that they allow the source of the pain to remain un-helped, unsupported or unhealed.
I’d like you to consider that there is nothing wrong with your pain. Your pain is kindly asking—maybe by now screaming—for you to pay attention. The source can be physical, mental, emotional and spiritual; and all of them at once. It may be unresolved loss, fear, or trauma. It may be a physiological deficiency or imbalance. It may be deeply embedded limiting beliefs about your worth and what’s possible for you. It may be your soul’s cry for spiritual connection. You will find that as you are willing to be with and attend to the source of your pain, the compulsive behaviors to avoid it become obsolete.
Buddhist tradition teaches that everything comes up for healing. I love that. If it’s on your radar, if you’re sensing pain, it’s because it’s time to heal it, resolve it, complete it. Every part of you is oriented to heal, always. So instead of disconnecting from the signal that’s trying to get your attention, I encourage you to get curious about it. Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with me?” which only throws you into cover-up and avoid mode, you can ask, “Where in me is this coming from? What’s really happening here? What does my heart/body/mind/spirit need right now? What part of me needs care, kindness, compassion, love, patience, help or support? In what way can I start tending to that?”
When you see pain as a kind messenger, you will experience its message as a gift for your wellbeing and greatest good. Merry Christmas!
Becky Henderson is a transformation coach, professional counselor, writer, and speaker based out of Tyler, Texas. With over 19+ years of experience in counseling, Becky has helped over 20,000 people from all walks of life. Becky offers transformation coaching, in-office counseling, and is certified in Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
For more information about Becky, you can visit her website at beckyfhenderson.com. You can also follow Becky on Twitter at @agreatblog or you can 'like' her page on Facebook at facebook.com/beckyhenderson.org.