Sunday Newsletter: Three Ways for How To Handle Pain

Driving home today. I was reminded how much I love a frigid cold morning with the sun shining and icy blue sky while I’m in my car with my music and a coffee. I felt grateful. I was comfortable with being alone. 

Heart squeeze, knotted nervous stomach – that’s my pain. My emotional body has a lifetime of conditioning and therefore 1,001 different triggers and associations that lead to feeling that way. Here’s how I deal with it. My experience is that there are three distinct ways to handle pain.

Connecting with Pain

So I’ll use myself as an example. Shortly after a break up, I was constantly checking to see what my ex was doing on Facebook and Instagram. It was that connection to her social activity that allowed me to connect with her. Accept it was not a real connection, of course. As bad as it felt, it met my aching need to connect. This is why it is comfortable to stay in sadness and sometimes difficult to transcend. Because we are meeting our need for connection. The only way out of this is to have something else you want to connect with more. For me, that’s not the person I wanted to be. I wanted to connect with myself more. Once I made this choice, the pattern was immediately broken. I started making new patterns to connect with myself.

Sitting with Pain

Still using myself as an example. Sometimes, my new patterns to connect with myself weren’t effective at satisfying my need for connection. As hard as it is sometimes, I sit with the painful sensation. For me, it’s a heart squeeze, knotted stomach.

When I was young, on few and far between occasions enjoyed the use of magic mushrooms. In hindsight, the reason I liked them is because it was a fascinating portal to connect with myself. Every time I used these mushrooms, there was a moment when the drug came into my system rapidly and aggressively. It would completely overwhelm me. This is where people can freak out on the stuff, but I learned to dig my heals in and watch it enter my body. The same applies to pain. Recognize it, observe it, and dig your heals in for a few moments as it enters into your body. Then find your breath and watch it.

Redirecting Pain

This is my favorite. It employs the other three aspects of health. For example, I was feeling that familiar heart squeeze, knotted stomach the other day. So I picked up the jump rope, put on my Eminem playlist and skipped for seven minutes straight. The entire time I was yelling out my “being” statement: “I am present, I am connected, I am creative, I am attractive, I am kind. I am confident. I am facing my fears and overcoming them. I am courageous. I breathe deep into my pain. I am opportunistic. I am making my life happen. I love myself. I am enough. I belong.” Physical exercise is a great way to redirect the pain.

Another example is writing in my journal every day. I’m connecting with myself. That pain I feel is being refocused toward writing my noticings, adding thoughts and responses to them then declaring them precious. This is a mental exercise.

The final way to redirect my pain is by being grateful. Especially being grateful about hard things, “hard gratitudes.” Inside every “hard gratitude” is a seed that can blossom into happiness. It’s impossible to be grateful AND angry, or upset. Grateful is grateful. It’s all that can occupy your mind if you’re generally connected to the gratitude.

I’m getting better at these things because I am practicing.

Need practice handling your pain, reach out. I’m here.