So you have a headache. A few ibuprofen do the trick. Happens again a couple of days later though. You pop a few more pills. You keep on keeping on.
Or perhaps you find yourself frustrated with your love life. You keep dating one creep or narcissist after the other. The only thing that seems to be consistent is your daily pint of ice cream. It is comforting, always loves you and sticks around, in your mid-drift that is.
Or perhaps you have an upset stomach. You find that taking some tums. You eat your fried food and processed junk and know that your stomach will act up, but you can minimize it by chewing on some tums. So it will keep you from sleeping if it is really bad, but you can take care of that with a sleeping pill.
The scenarios are limitless. How many times and how many situations in your life have caused you pain or discomfort–physically, emotionally or psychologically that you have somehow managed to minimize or numb with drugs, drink, food, activity or technology, so that you could keep doing the same things you have always done?
Did you ever think that if you keep doing what you have always done the results will always be the same and at some point, those results could lead to real damage if not addressed? Did you ever think that if you embraced your pain rather than trying to minimize it, you may get to its root source, heal it and possibly be free of it and better yet, grown from the experience of it?
I have found, both personally and professionally, that when you embrace whatever is causing you pain in a way that says, “I embrace you. I embrace you because I know you are hear to awaken me, to help me find truth, to heal through and through,” you begin a process of growth and healing that is not possible when you simply numb or minimize. Indeed, when you embrace the pain, you actually allow it to lessen in its intensity since you are not fighting it anymore. You also give it a chance to let you know why it is there, providing you with an opportunity to go deeper in your healing process. You may discover that your pain is worse or only happens with certain foods, the wrong pillow, a certain mattress, when you are criticized or when you are angry. You may discover an underlying negative core belief that wants changing or a memory that wants releasing.
Take my patient Melanie. She complained of excruciating neck pain that was keeping her from sleeping. Her x-rays and other radiographic tests were negative for any findings and she was told it was muscular. By the time she came to me she was already on a slew of medications including anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers that only took the edge off for short periods.
So I asked Melanie to close her eyes and imagine that she was surrounding her pain with a beautiful loving light and saying the very words I say to myself when I am in pain, I embrace you. I embrace you because I know you are hear to awaken me, to help me find truth, to heal through and through.” I then instructed her in a series of exercises that brought into a state of relaxation so that she could eventually ask that area of pain to show her an old memory.
The memory that was brought forward was one of her being 10 years old, being yelled at by her father for coming home late from the playground, for being irresponsible and not bringing her 8-year-old sister home sooner. She remembered the feeling of being made to feel irresponsible and that she would never let her father down again. From then on, she would always be responsible.
There was much more to Melanie’s story, too much for this short article, but its important to note that her family one was one of chaos where she was often needed to look after her younger siblings. The weight of responsibility had be weighing in her shoulders for over 20 years.
So I guided Melanie through a healing exercise of her 10 year old self, one where she was made to feel loved and supported, taken care of and appreciated for all she had done. Most importantly, she was made to understand that she no longer needed to be responsible for anyone, other than herself.
Through the guided meditation and healing, Melanie noted her pain lessened drastically and over the course of a few weeks, as she practiced her healing exercises, affirmation and stretching program, the pain resolved and she was able to wean off of her medication.
It was not an easy process for Melanie, but the course of her life is now changed for good, not only because she is no longer in physical pain, but also because she has let go of something they may have caused her a lot of life long emotional pain.
So you see, you have a choice. You can choose to minimize or to maximize. Embrace or numb. Which will it be?