Using pain as a tool to heal is an effective and efficient way to move through life. We’re invited to accept and surrender the need to pretend that we’re in control of life and everything it offers.

Have you ever noticed how you learned to avoid and resist pain or discomfort by trying to control it, numb it, avoid it or even pretend it’s not there? As a society, we’ve come to the conclusion that pain is wrong, shouldn’t happen or even that pain is unnatural. These misinformed beliefs fuel our resistance to pain and it’s … well … painful. 

To be ALIVE means you’ll experience all kinds of emotions, including painful ones. But by making painful emotions wrong or trying to bury them, you’ll suffer. Trying to avoid pain in your life can leave you feeling exhausted or frustrated as you attempt to avoid being emotionally triggered.

So many people perceive pain and discomfort as enemies that must be escaped or conquered at all costs. The world leads you to believe that something is wrong if pain or discomfort shows up.

What if you responded to your experiences of pain and discomfort by listening to them instead of making them wrong and running from them?

Life invites you to evolve. Overcoming pain and struggle are a part of your evolution.

Can you imagine how your life would be different if you opened to immediately accepting and even listening to the experiences of pain in your life instead of following some misguided perception that what is before you shouldn’t be happening? 

Pain changes your focus to your mental, emotional, or physical experience. Once it has your attention, you may try to immediately stop the pain or discomfort with pills, alcohol, avoidance, control, sedation, or other coping mechanisms. There’s a big difference between avoiding and denying that pain is there, versus experiencing real freedom from pain.

Pain and discomfort in your mind, emotions, and body are calling you to pay attention to what needs tending to.

As I work with clients, physical ailments are often healed through feeling into and releasing held emotions of stored pain and trauma.

Pain and discomfort are tools your body uses to get your attention, so you can focus on what needs to be healed. Feeling into mental, emotional and physical pain and feeling into the imbalances you are experiencing can help you restore your inner balance—and put you in a place to experience greater joy.

Here are 6 steps to achieve healing through pain:

  1. Get comfortable and send any judgmental tendencies out the door for this exercise.
  2. Take a deep breath and feel into pain you are experiencing. As you continue to focus on breathing into the pain and discomfort, bring compassion and acceptance to it. Do this for two to five minutes.
  3. Next, ask the pain, “What do you want me to know?” and then listen. It’s okay if you don’t get an immediate answer. This is a practice, and inner listening is cultivated through practice. Over time, or perhaps right away, you may hear a voiceless answer. Or, you may even “know” or get a sense of what your body wants to tell you.

    Stay with it. Keep asking the question and follow up with these inquiries:
    • “What else do you want me to know?” 
    • “What do I need to change?”
    • “What isn’t working for me in my life?”
    • “What do I need more of in my life?”
    • “What do I need to let go of?”
  4. The key to the questions is listening. Your body knows exactly what you need to do to heal. Listening provides an intimate connection for you to get intimate with yourself, your wants, needs and desires, so you can heal. As you listen, deep (and potentially uncomfortable) emotions may come up to be expressed. Welcome and embrace each emotion as you would a child who is hurting and just wants to be loved. Do this without judgment and without trying to fix or change what you are experiencing. Welcome any emotions, guidance or thoughts with complete and total acceptance as you witness them with an open heart. 
  5. Accept any and all feelings that come up. Your feelings may get even more amplified as they are met with compassion and acceptance. Witness your feelings with gratitude that your body knows what it needs to express in order to heal. Trust the pain and the expression of it that is being revealed. The more you can accept and even welcome the stored feelings, the deeper your release will be in this safe place of transformation.
  6. Stay with your breath and this process. To begin with, you may be startled by the deep release of feelings and emotions. You might even want to back off or shut down your feelings. That is okay. This is a practice. Once you come to know the healing benefits of accepting all feelings instead of shutting them down with judgments of “you’re wrong,” “you shouldn’t feel this way,” etc., you are granted access to deeper and deeper levels of healing.

Some of the most painful times for me have been some of my greatest motivators to grow. I also see it with clients all the time. I call this expansion through the gift of pain. 

While working through pain may be challenging, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself on this journey. It can be difficult and oh so satisfying, too.

Featured Image by Unsplash
This post previously appeared on Rita's blog.