Pain is an inevitable and natural part of life. No human being goes through life without experiencing loss, disappointment or other difficult emotions. When we encounter painful circumstances and feelings, we think of them as something negative and want to get rid of them. And it makes sense, right? Whether emotional or physical, pain can be really uncomfortable. We take measures such as withdrawing from others, distracting ourselves with television or social media, numbing ourselves with substances, the list goes on… to try and avoid the discomfort. What we often don’t consider is what pain can offer us.
For many, it is during times of intense difficulty that we grow the most.
When we endure trials and tribulations, we can become more resilient and find strengths that we didn’t know we held. Our perspective can change and we may be able to develop more appreciation for things than we once had.
Painful emotions serve as a reminder that something or someone matters and is important to us.
Think of the last time you really grieved. Who or what was it that you lost? To cut off ourselves from the possibility of the pain associated with losing a loved one, we must limit how deep we allow our relationships to be. To avoid the possibility of being rejected for our dream job, we don’t go for it and never get the chance. By engaging in these well-meaning self-protective behaviors, we limit how much joy, happiness and other positive emotions we can experience and the extent to which we engage in the world in a meaningful way.
Pain gives us the capacity to show up for other people and have empathy in a way that we otherwise might not.
We develop more compassion for others and what they’re experiencing when we know what it feels like to have gone through it ourselves. When we have experienced a similar loss, we can relate to and connect with others more deeply.
The next time you experience something difficult or painful, I invite you to explore what it shows you.