By Jennifer Garza
In my last article “Embracing Life’s Hardships,” I discussed how pain is a gift – and it is. It clues you into your soul’s mission, and it’s important to recognize that letting the hurt in is part of your path. This allows you to move through it into the rest of your journey.
But pain also signals something else of importance.
In Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening,” one passage states that pain is a signal it’s time for change. Although Nepo’s example was one of the physical – deciding when it was time to cease his chemo treatments – it very much applies to matters of the soul. Pain is a natural part of the human experience, but pain that lingers or steadily grows is a symptom that something needs to change.
Here are a few ways to choose change and move past the pain:
1. Acknowledge the Pain. Nepo suggests meditating on the pain and paying attention to where in your physical body you feel the weight of that hurt. Sit in it, and don’t run away. Let it slide over your body. I am fond of the Vedic philosophy regarding emotion and feeling. It suggests we experience pain as just an emotion, with no negative or positive attached to it. As human beings who feel detached from a higher power, we have assigned positivity and negativity to feelings. The truth is the human experience is made up of all types of emotion. It makes sense to embrace these emotions as a wondrous part of the human experience, rather than judge them.
2. Discover What Lies Beneath. After allowing the emotion to wash over you, meditate on what lessons underlie this pain. Are you self-sacrificing to the point of damaging your spirit? Are you placing too much thought and energy on life’s small stresses that you forget to enjoy the now? Are you letting fear of being alone trap you in an unhealthy relationship? Are you allowing a trauma to consume you instead of learning from it?
3. Journal. Once you identify the root of your pain, free-write about the steps you can take to release yourself. Don’t judge the answers that come. Write as quickly as you can – even if the solutions are things you cannot fathom doing. Listen to your inner voice – it knows best.
4. Take Small Steps Daily. If you sacrifice too much, commit to indulging yourself in small ways on a regular basis. If you feel alone, take steps to connect with the people in your life and allow them to support you. If life’s stressors overwhelm you, commit to letting go of the one stressor out of your control each day. If there are stressors within your control, commit to taking one action weekly that will help ameliorate them.
Jennifer Garza, M.S., has a master of science in counseling and psychology. She is a former therapist and has taught life enhancement classes at venues including college campuses, state conferences and prisons. She is the author of the inspiration journal “365 Days to Happiness: Use Your Strengths, Thoughts, and Dreams to Manifest a New Life.” Garza has been featured in Natural Health magazine, AOL, BusinessInsider.com, Young Entrepreneur.com, and on FTNS radio. Visit her website at www.authorjennifergarza.com or connect with her.