Be With The Pain

by Annie Kaszina on November 21, 2006

It’s often said that the
lessons we need to learn keep coming up again and again until we finally ‘get’
them, grasp the nettle, bite the bullet; whatever you care to call it. And maybe what we call it is actually quite
important. ‘Getting’ or understanding
doesn’t’ sound too bad, grasping the nettle or biting the bullet sounds
decidedly more unpleasant.

Of course, that has to
do with our beliefs and expectation about how painful it will be to stay with
the emotional lesson we have to learn.

 

My belief in saying this
is that being with your pain is not the same as the pain being with you. 

Is this not splitting
hairs? I honestly don’t think it
is. I would never wish to diminish the
agony of an abusive relationship. That
pain feels like it is always with you; like it characterizes and defines
you. At best it lets up occasionally,
only to return feeling even sharper. 

It is a natural response
to try to deal with the pain through whatever means are available to you;
through avoidance or through reflecting on how hard things are for you. It’s already so bad that you do whatever you
can to protect yourself from worse. 

Sometimes that fear of
the pain worsening keeps women in a hopelessly damaging relationship, because
of an old –profoundly questionable – belief that even a bad partner is better
than no partner. (It’s a kind of
reworking of that dubious old cliche: ‘better the devil you know than the devil
you don’t’. How does that one
work? 
How can you possibly know that
the person/future you don’t know will be worse?)

So it happens that the
pain is constantly with us; yet we try to run from the pain. Emotionally we run from confronting what we
believe to be the worst case scenario. In so doing we magnify our fear. 

This isn’t just a
theoretical idea I’ve been exploring for the past couple of weeks, but a real
problem that has been exercising my mind in a big way. Put like that, it doesn’t sound too bad. Put more conversationally, it has been
‘doing my head in’. 

A wise colleague pointed
out to me that perhaps I needed to be with the pain. “Yes”, I groaned through gritted teeth. I liked the sound of that one about as much as the thought of
being closeted in an aeroplane toilet for 24 hours with the ex-husband. Even though I knew she was very likely
right.

Then yesterday I was
preparing the notes for a workshop I was giving on “The Joy Decision”. 

Now, it’s been my
experience working with abused women that as bad as many key things in their
life may be, there are also good and precious things, if they can but focus on
them. 

That thought triggered
an immediate association with the lyrics of “Beggar on a Beach of Gold”
(Mike and the Mechanics 1995) and a quick scuttle away from the computer to get
the CD. It had been, I realized, nearly
four years since I’d last played it. 

Listening to it, I found
myself weeping convulsively, from a sense of loss. It probably wasn’t much more specific than that. I made the choice to be with that feeling.
And so I was for the next fifteen or twenty minutes, maybe half an hour. I couldn’t really say. At the end of that time I felt drained and
at peace. 

In “The Sedona Method”
Hale Dwoskin describes a similar process as “letting go through diving
in”. 

My circumstances hadn’t
changed in those minutes but my emotional mind-set had. Maybe it had been a way of clearing a
conduit of emotion that previously had been blocked for years. 

It made me think about
my conversations with Shoshana
Garfield
. EFT is a very effective
way of clearing old trauma of the pain associated with it. Without that kind of
apparently immovable block in your life it becomes much easier to move
forward. 

Your emotional range
remains. But being with it and allowing
it to flow freely through you means it is less likely to paralyse you. That emotion flows through you without becoming
you. Be with the pain and the pain will
cease to be you.

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