“Emotional pain cannot kill you, but running from it can. Allow. Embrace. Let yourself feel. Let yourself heal.”
― Vironika Tugaleva
No one likes pain and we humans, especially we Western humans, are very prone to avoiding pain at any cost. We smoke, we drink, we use drugs, legal and illegal, we shop, we gamble, we try fixing everyone else – you name it – all in an effort, either unconsciously or consciously, to avoid the pain we’re experiencing, often to the point of addiction and beyond.
I’ve been reading a wonderful book, Already Free by Bruce Tift, LMFT. In his practice, he uses both Western and Buddhist psychotherapeutic approaches. I have definitely benefitted from the Western psychotherapeutic approach and I went into it with the goal of having a life free of the emotional disturbances that were created from the trauma in my childhood. However, I’ve come to realize that this is an unrealistic expectation and I’m truly resonating with the Buddhist perspective as explained by Tift. In this perspective, emotional pain is part of the human experience and instead of looking at it as a problem to be solved, it is considered a normal experience that is part of our whole being. Acceptance of the experience and a willingness to stay with it rather than avoiding it is the key to freedom. Noticing what is most fundamentally true about the experience and placing no judgments or interpretations on the experience allows us to drop our investment in the “stories” we tell ourselves and others in order to maintain and perpetuate them.
Sitting with our stories and our uncomfortable feelings, even though painful, allows us to move into an awakening. This is really an acceptance of reality, the part we play in that reality, an understanding of what we can change, what we can’t change, what we are responsible for and what we’re not.
As a result of reading Already Free, I’ve awakened to the realization that my emotional wounds will never be completely healed and will always be with me – surfacing from time to time – because they are an important part of me. They have helped me become the person I am today. Instead of spending more and more time trying to solve and eliminate these wounds from my being, I’m going to embrace them when they surface and treat myself compassionately. I’ll sit with them, knowing that they have been springboards to growth and healing. Just saying this is freeing.
Awakenings begin with awareness and are surrounded by awareness. They happen in stillness and when we are willing to fully experience every part of our lives.
“If you can sit with your pain, listen to your pain and respect your pain — in time you will move through your pain.”
― Bryant McGill