“Just take some painkillers.”
The usual response when we complain of having a headache or some other physical ache in our body. Pain is uncomfortable, of course, but it’s also an inconvenience. We all can recall a time when we had one of those headaches – the ones that leave you feeling sick, you can’t focus properly, your eyeball is literally pounding, and you’re left unable to function for the forseeable few hours. In this ‘live-fast-rest-later’ society we exist in, having to be put out for a few hours owing to some minor physical ailment is simply not possible. We don’t have time for that shit. We’ve got stuff to be getting on with.
The discomfort we have with pain isn’t just from the physical, it’s also the mental. The fact that we are so quick to pop some pills in order to avoid slowing down only reveals that we have a fear – fear that there’s not enough time to get things done, fear of missing out, fear that it could be something more serious. That’s the thing with pain – it forces you to pay attention…but we have become highly skilled in avoiding the voice of pain.
I remember once I was about to pop some painkillers for a headache that was literally doing my head in when my Step-Dad turned to me and said “You shouldn’t be so quick to take painkillers. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.”
Aint that the truth.
You see, the same can be applied for emotional pain. The premise remains the same – we don’t like it, it’s inconvenient, we are fearful of it, and so we numb it.
We could go on and on here about how we numb with alcohol, food, fucking anything else that’s bad for you in high quantities. That’s a job for Captain Obvious and I’m not filling his shoes today because we also numb through avoidance, keeping busy, and ensuring that we don’t have time to think. What’s worse is that we justify the avoidance and the keeping busy with really fucking good excuses. And I know because I’ve been there and done that. Not only have I got the t-shirt, I’ve bought my own gift shop and sell a range of items relating to the wonderful fucking skill of busy avoidance tactics.
We work late, we work long, we work hard. We don’t stop for dinner. We head straight to the gym. We exercise to excess. We ensure that every waking minute to spent doing something completely relevant to our day that is entirely socially acceptable because, that way, we don’t have time for the emotional pain. We don’t want to feel that shit. It’s an inconvenience.
We’re also afraid because the harder we avoid it, the longer it stews in the background of our mind, the more relevant it becomes. Because that’s the thing with emotional pain – we know it has the power to change us and, quite frankly, we’re enjoying where we are now and we don’t have time to try to learn who we are all over again thank you very much so if you don’t mind…fuck off.
The thing is, this type of attitude makes us ill. We can’t evolve and develop if we are not willing to engage with our agony. Our pain is there to guide us, to help us, to shake things up so that we can shake things off. It’s like the pruning of a tree – the dead needs to go so that the new can grow. So, stop being afraid…
Pain is there to tell us that something is wrong. So stop. Stop the avoidance. Stop the busy. Be brave. Sit with your agony for a moment and just listen to what it is telling you.
Sometimes sitting with your pain means having a difficult conversation with someone that you’ve been avoiding. Have the conversation.
Sometimes it means starting something that you don’t want to do but you know will benefit you in the long wrong. Start the thing.
Sometimes it might be to let go of someone that you’ve tried to hold dear to you for too long. Let them go.
Sometimes it will encourge you to stop doing the things you have done in secret which have been hurting you all this time. Be convicted and change your habit.
Sometimes it will tell you that you’re doing the right thing – you just need to slow down and give yourself some kindness. Go slow.
That’s what it means to sit with your pain. This agony can be your friend if you are willing to trust her. She’s not there for no reason – she wants to make you aware of the things that are holding you back from becoming all that you can be for this short while on earth. She wants you to flourish.
So, don’t “just take some painkillers.” Feel your agony, let her guide you, and be brave, be brave, be brave…because, on the other side of that pain, is the liberty and contentment you have been craving for so long.