Learning from Your Pain

I’ve been thinking this past month about learning from pain. Pain has showed up recently in my life in a variety of forms, both emotional and physical.

Most people are taught from a young age that pain is bad. Pain is something to avoid at all costs. When we feel pain, our first reaction is to figure out how to numb it. Take an ibuprofen or Xanax, suck it up, and keep moving.

The problem is that numbing pain numbs everything else. You can’t numb pain without also numbing joy and love.

I’m learning that pain is a warning signal. Pain shows up in your life when you need to pay attention to something you are ignoring. And it will keep showing up if you keep ignoring the thing that you know deep down you need to pay attention to.

So how do we deal with pain? With love and compassion.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but love and pain go hand in hand. All love eventually ends in pain and all pain is an opportunity to cultivate even more love.

I’ve had chronic shoulder pain and multiple dislocations over the past eight years. After every dislocation, I dove headfirst into rehab, dutifully completing my physical therapy exercises so that I could get back to the gym and back to “100%”. But I never stopped to think what my body was trying to tell me.

I’m (very) slowly learning to love my pain. Pain told me that I wasn’t treating my body the way that I should be treating it. It told me that I wasn’t paying attention to the relationships that I needed to pay attention to. It told me that I needed to slow down, to take a breath, to relax, and to give myself the nurturing that I deserve.

So the next time you feel pain, try to feel the love that’s right there beside it. Love it for telling you something or teaching you something you didn’t know before.

Because isn’t that an awesome gift?

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Washington, DC
New York, NY
dghopkins@gmail.com
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