How to Sit with Pain

I’ve written so much over the past six months about the importance of walking through pain, being at home with yourself, and shedding all that does not serve you. I’ve taken you through the woods, into the fire, up to the sky, and to my own awakening. I’ve shared the knowledge I’ve learned as I’ve put together years of research and first-hand experience. In reading my blogs, it’s my hope that my understanding of what holds us back and what can set us free serves you.

It’s not my intention to tell you I’m wise beyond all others; I’m human just like everyone else. I struggle just the same and what I write about each week is incredibly hard to do in practice. I’d like to spend some time writing about how I’ve managed to awkwardly walk the path I am on in hopes that it serves you. This week I’m writing about pain.

Recognizing Pain

One of the key things I’ve come to write about is the importance of feeling our pain. I don’t think I have enough time or pages to do this topic justice. You see, the brain is hardwired to try and escape pain and find joy.  When pain comes for us, the brain says “ouch! Make it stop!” Society has given an incredibly bad rap to pain and people taking advantage of this have profited billions of dollars. But what if we let pain run its course? What if we listened to it? What if we didn’t spend our time and money on avoiding pain and instead spent our energy on holding, listening, and navigating pain? I believe if we did this, peace would come.

Birth is an incredible example of what should be beautiful in practice, but the world’s greediness has found a way to make a profit out of our pain. During my pregnancies, I knew that the medical industry saw the profit margin in creating interventions with birth and that unless there was an emergency I would refuse all interventions. I birthed both Henry and Declan this way. When I gave birth to Henry I was not ready for the magnitude of physical pain force contractions bring and I suffered for it. I labored through the pain and pushed him into the world. My Doula held me, yet still, the pain came. I didn’t have the skills to manage the waves.

With Declan I wanted to be ready for the waves, to know what to do. I learned Hypnobirthing from an incredible woman (Robin (tag here) and had a 22 hour, pain-free birth with Declan. Each time a wave came I settled into it, welcomed it, and breathed. When the doctor left the room I flipped on all fours and birthed my son by myself. Navigating the perceived pain as a wise messenger brought my son into the world in peace.

These two different birth stories are examples of what happens to us when we don’t know what to do with our pain. With Henry’s birth, I didn’t have the tools and thought the pain would end me (like really end me). With Declan’s birth, I knew how to care for the pain and that going through it brought life. So here is my first piece of advice to you; stay with it, whatever it is, even if it’s painful. Learn. Fall down a few times. Keep trying and learning. But do not let pain take over. Let it be and learn how to care for it just like a mother cares for the waves of birth.

Learning from Pain

My first tip for you, as I mentioned above, is to stay with the pain. Do not run from it. Do not be afraid of it. If you don’t know you are in pain or upset, take pauses every day and ask, “am I me? Am I honoring myself? Is this the life I want?” If this little practice makes you uncomfortable, I’m sorry to tell you that you are pushing through pain. 

When discomfort comes, either in asking the question above or in sitting in pain, I believe a toolbox is needed to navigate it. Just like birth, pain can either overcome you or you can skillfully move through it.  

My next tip for you is to learn how to nurture yourself and allow others to nurture you. These past 6 months I’ve surrendered to this and created more love for myself and those nurturing me than I thought possible. You see, we’re given this stupid narrative that we’re supposed to just handle life on our own and I used to feel selfish asking for help. This is absolutely impossible and maddening. Most people actually want to be helpful and kind; if they love you let them. I can tell you this made me want to jump out of my skin when I started letting others help me, now it creates a warm glow in my heart (OK, I still jump at first, then I glow).

How to Nurture Yourself

Some things I do to nurture myself are taking walks in nature, taking baths with salts and candles, sitting in front of the mirror offering myself love, writing, and meditating. If I’m spinning in pain, I want to grab the remote, a glass of wine, and slip away. I used to be OK with this. Not anymore. If I can’t offer love to myself I call someone who can and who will hold me so I don’t have to slip. More times than not it’s my sister but honestly, I have more than a handful of people I can call and I know will call me when they need love and support. We have created a judgment-free zone for each other and it’s magical. 

This is where I want to leave you today. With step number one. Find a way to take care of your pain instead of pushing through it. What can you do for yourself (shaming is not the answer here) to deal with your pain? Who can you trust to tell that there is pain within you? Who will you allow to carry you when you cannot walk? Remember my birth stories? Sure, it was me doing the birthing, but it was also Nikki, my Doula. She rubbed my back and smoothed oils into my skin as I labored. I wasn’t there alone. I’m not here alone and neither are you.

Do not let the world take your money or life telling you pain is bad. Pain is painful, but it just needs a little attention and care. If you don’t do this you risk losing your life and damaging the lives of others. If not today for you, do this for me; take one minute to unabashedly step into your pain and honor it. Then next time do it for you.

Xoxo,

Jessie