Being There for Yourself in Times of Pain

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I notice a tightness in my chest and an empty feeling in my abdomen. It’s uncomfortable. I am able to identify these sensations as signaling feelings of sadness and anger for me. I remind myself to accept these feelings as I’ve learned from both professional training and spiritual teachings. I am able to sit with the feeling for a moment or two and then my mind is off and running. Coming up with explanations about why I feel this way. Blaming someone who I think is at fault for me feeling this way. Blaming myself. Thinking of things to help me feel better. Maybe if I listen to a spiritual teaching, eat some chocolate, or drink some wine I’ll fee better. Maybe if I get some reassurance or affirmation, I’ll feel better. This usually continues for a few minutes and then in a moment of space between thoughts I am able to step back and gently remind myself to just feel it. To welcome these painful feelings like a cute puppy and to offer the feelings and myself some comfort. This is hard. I know I’m progressing in this area because my awareness of what is happening has increased. But this awareness has made it easier to see how much my mind tries to help me escape these feelings with strategies that would probably help me to feel good in the moment but ultimately don’t allow me to process and release what I’m experiencing.

Your methods of escape might be different from mine. Maybe for you it’s getting caught up in the story about how you’re not good enough or lovable. Maybe you escape through getting high or over eating. Maybe it’s through mindlessly scrolling through social media, online shopping, or fantasizing about what your dream house would look like. Maybe it’s transferring the energy of pain and anger to someone else by lashing out and yelling at them. We all have escape strategies, ways to avoid feeling difficult emotions. I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on what your escape strategies are.

I’m sharing this because I think these struggles are part of being human. And even though I know intellectually how I should respond, putting this into practice is still a challenge for me. And yet I am committed to being there for myself in this way. I am committed to showing up for myself even when it feels hard to be me. I will not run away from myself and my pain even when all I want to do is escape and my mind is pushing me to find a way out.

I hope that this post helps you on your journey to commit to yourself in hard times. To know that even for those of us who talk about this every day, it is still a struggle. I hope that you will find, like I have, that this struggle is a beautiful one. That on this path we are able to develop a deep intimacy with ourselves. We are able to heal and grow in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We are able to provide ourselves with the unconditional love we have always longed for.

If you’re curious about strategies for engaging in this process you can check out my post on healthy ways to respond to emotions.

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