The Pain Paradox

As humans, many of us make a concerted effort to avoid pain and discomfort in all its forms. It’s a protective mechanism, and one that’s fairly universal.

However, one could argue that it’s not doing us any favours where our emotional health is concerned.

I like to use the metaphor of a beach ball in a swimming pool; No matter how much we push and hide it away below the surface, it inevitably must always spring to the surface eventually.

But what if we learned to embrace the uncomfortable, and acknowledged vulnerability in its fullness? What would that look like?

I’m not saying that we should necessarily freely welcome it and seek it out, but rather, learn how to accept it’s existence. We all go through times when things are acutely hard, but it’s important to learn how to navigate the stormy seas, instead of trying to avoid them completely. Vulnerability, and the discomfort that comes with it, is a key part of the human experience. Pretending that it doesn’t exist is rather paradoxically more harmful to our emotional well-being.

So that begs the question, how can we deal with them properly?

The next time your mind is clouded with anxiety, or you are feeling sad, stressed, or lonely,  I encourage you to take a step back, and observe your feelings instead of engaging with them. Don’t buy into what your mind is telling you without questioning where the feeling is coming from. Do your best to be non-judgemental and extend compassion to yourself, the same gentle kindness that you would extend to someone that you love.

Let the thoughts visit, and then let them go. After all, thoughts are just thoughts. The only power they have over us is the power we give them by engaging.

Sarskia Melville