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Turn Pain into Change

Turn Pain into Change

Accept Pain and Avoid Suffering

By Natalie Joseph, LPC

Do you crave peace over stress? Are your actions lining up with your cravings?

Do you feel weighed down by struggle?

Let’s stop making things so difficult and walk freely, shall we?

The only way out? Is through it.

Whatever you Resist, Persists

Whenever I think of resistance, I like to think of the metaphor of a person in a boat paddling upstream as the natural flow of the water is moving downstream. Whenever we are afraid to experience unpleasant emotions, we are engaging in resistance, or paddling the boat upstream.

Have you ever worked hard to rationalize, deny or avoid something because you did not like the way that it made you feel? If you answered yes, you may find accepting what you were trying to avoid less painful than the effort it took for you to ignore it. Similar to the boat flowing downstream, padding upstream caused you to exhaust yourself.

Paddling upstream creates nothing. Change seems unlikely and a person starts to ask “What’s wrong with me? Everyone else seems to make good decisions, but I can’t”.

4 Steps to Do What You Want:

Step 1: Accept pain. Know that you are unhappy but are not sure what to do just yet.
Step 2: Remind yourself, “This is only a YET MOMENT. A DO MOMENT is coming.”
Step 3: Define what you do want, resonate it with your values.
Step 4: Take a painful step towards what you do want. Accept it will be painful but temporary.

The Mental Hack to Peace

Acceptance allows us to daringly look our wounds square in the face and heal them with compassion. Acceptance is a positive change of attitude where self-compassion and care can be present. Let me be clear; acceptance is NOT GIVING UP and it is certainly not taking the ‘easy way out.’ Often, it is the opposite.

It is facing anything challenging. It requires you to get out of your own way. Acceptance is adopting a mindset of strength so needed to find the solution and get out of the problem.

Finding acceptance allows you to be ready and able to make necessary changes. There are certain things in life that you cannot change. When you accept reality, you are then able to make a shift from changing the impossible to changing what you can. It creates a predisposition of flexibility.

Fear Replaces Avoidance

People avoid emotions because of fear. Now, instead of emotions overwhelming them, fear does. Acceptance, reduces stress because you are able to be in control of your emotions and manage them effectively when you stop hiding from them. We experience more stress when attempting to avoid tough emotions. Have you ever pushed a cork under water? It bops right back up to the surface even harder. Every. Single. Time. Our brain does the same with emotions. If it is not felt, experienced to some degree, the brain pushes it to the surface through headaches, body pains, muscle strain and more.

Fear causes us to fight, flight or freeze. Out of fear to face painful emotions, we deny how bad things are to ourselves and others. Subsequently, we limit ourselves from opportunities to grow and make changes in our lives. Persistent efforts to avoid the truth of a situation or person, can be a defense so that we don’t have to face things that cause our hearts too much pain.

Find Freedom and Accept Pain

Accepting that negative emotions may come up, is the key to freedom. Pain is a part of life no matter what. Acceptance is a mindset that keeps pain temporary and suffering at bay. It creates enough head space to provide the wisdom of where we want to go next.

Refusing to face pain, gives it power. All change begins with acceptance of reality and that is where our power truly lies. After a person accepts their reality, change follows and opens the door to a vast and sacred space for healing. Sure, there are going to be difficult times, but accepting that things are difficult during those times and developing the “it is what it is” attitude, is what makes us effective agents of change.

Being present with our pain is a way of releasing it. You can use your own personal values to configure your specific direction of change. It is important for your mental health, to remember that while in a situation that you are not ready to leave, there are many things you can alter. You can always find happiness in other areas of our lives and this happiness, can change us and our current situations. It also may give us the confidence that we need, to later make the changes that we feel, in the moment, are impossible. By facing our own pain, we are able to soothe our own discomforts.