Simple Wisdom For Life’s Hard Question About Pain

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Lori Deschene – the founder of Tiny Buddha has just released her book that touches on the subjects of pain, meaning, change, fate, happiness, love, money, possibilities, and control plus a whole lot more.

I have simply drawn some of her wisdom from her chapter on pain. Ably assisted by her Twitter followers – where she raised much of the original discussion that provided great fodder for this book, Lori has provided a book filled to overflowing with practical tips and insight into some of life’s hard questions.

So enjoy this small portion…

Learn From Pain To Make Positive Changes

If you’re hurting and feeling angry, resentful, or resistant:

Identify the cause of your pain. Are you reliving something that happened long ago? Are you hurting because of a current situation that isn’t working for you?

It’s easier to stuff pain down than to address it, but you can only learn about what you need if you’re willing to acknowledge that you haven’t gotten it and how that makes you feel.

The next step is to ask yourself if you have some investment in hurting. Is there a part of you that wants to stay in a situation that you know is bad? You can only let go of pain if you understand why you’re holding on to it.

Feel the pain. Don’t try to hide it, avoid it, fight it, or run from it— sit with it instead. It may feel overwhelming, but know that every feeling eventually transforms, and it will happen faster if you stop resisting. Sink deep into it and get clear about exactly why it hurts. What is it that you want to change?

Let Pain Remind You Of What You Enjoy & Appreciate

If you’re hurting and it seems like you’ll never feel joy again:

Identify what this pain reminds you to appreciate. If you’re hurting because you lost someone, this pain reminds you to enjoy every moment with the people you love because life is fragile. If you’re hurting because of shame or regret, this pain reminds you to live with honor, authenticity, and integrity to create feelings of self-respect and pride.

Make a proactive decision to enjoy those things at least a little today. Don’t worry about completely releasing your pain forever—that’s a huge goal to demand of yourself. Instead, focus on doing something for just a short while that will create the emotions you want to feel.

Call an old friend and get together for a spontaneous adventure instead of dwelling on the adventure that never happened. Do something that makes you feel proud and passionate instead of feeling ashamed of the decision that didn’t pan out.

Schedule blocks of healing. When we’re hurting, it’s easy to isolate ourselves until we feel better or more in control. But I’ve noticed that simple pleasures—like a massage or a hug—can feel so much more gratifying when I am deeply in need of release or connection. So schedule it in, even if you think you may get emotional. According to William Frey II, a biochemist who researches tears at Ramsey Medical Center, crying releases toxins and stress hormones—meaning, it often feels good to cry.

Turn The Pain Of Wanting Into The Joy Of Doing

If you’re hurting over something you think you need and can’t have:

Identify what it is you’re grasping at. Is it a job that you think will make you feel passionate about your work? Is it a relationship that you feel you need in order to know love? Now ask yourself: are you assuming happiness exists in achieving or getting this specific thing?

Realise that this—the belief that you will be happy if you only get what you want—is an illusion. It’s something that allows you to release responsibility for being happy right now, because “someday” everything will line up just right. That day may never come. Happiness isn’t getting everything you want. It’s appreciating what you have and staying open to the limitless possibilities before you.

Focus On The Process, Not The Outcome

There’s nothing wrong with striving for a specific goal; it’s suffocating it with need and stress that hurts you. Instead of fixating on the outcome you want to create, focus on joy in the process. For example, with TinyBuddha, I have never known for sure where this is leading or how many people will read. But I love writing about these topics and engaging with people about letting go and letting peace in. When you focus on joy in the process, you’re more likely to create and sustain momentum and positive results.

Find ways to get what you really want today, as it is. Underneath the specific goals or desires, there’s a more general need. Identify that. If you want to feel passionate, do something today to indulge your passion. Volunteer your service to or barter with others, offering your skills in exchange for theirs. If you want to feel loved, start by giving love. Call a family member or get together with friends to do something you love. Sometimes when you let go of restrictive wants, you can better meet your actual needs.

Let Your Pain Connect You To Other People

Instead of sitting alone in your pain:

Be honest with other people about what you’re experiencing. Nothing feels more liberating than the freedom to be exactly where you are, without apologizing or trying to protect yourself from judgment. That doesn’t mean that no one will judge you—some people will, and that’s just life. Be honest anyway. Being disliked and misunderstood by some is worth the freedom of knowing you are loved and supported by many.

Express yourself to release the feelings, not to dwell on them. There’s a difference between sharing your experiences for support and seeking an audience with no intention of finding a solution. Whether you’re taking to your friends or to strangers in a support group, be honest about your experience but release the need to pull them into the story. Your goal isn’t to create an identity so that people constantly relate to your pain; it’s to share your pain so that you can release it, allowing people the opportunity to relate to all of you.

Help heal other people’s pain. Because you know what pain feels like, you can recognize it in other people—so be there in the way you’d want it. For me, that means asking, “How can I help?” when someone seems burdened, and then being open to whatever is needed without judgment or expectation; or giving someone an uncomfortably long hug when he appears to be weak, allowing him to melt into my arms. We are all in this together. Now we just have to act like it.

Order your copy of her book here.

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