by Chris Cade
Recently I shared with you a bit about happiness, and my friend Arina’s explorations into the topic. While it’s important to find ways to cultivate happiness, there’s also a silent (or sometimes not-so-silent) killer of happiness: our pain.
Many people hold onto their pain like a kind of “badge of honor.” In fact, most of us have some aspect of our history, something painful or difficult, that we have a silent sense of pride about… as though when we tell the story, we know people will empathize with us. We’ll be seen. We’ll be comforted.
In fact, we might even mistake the support we receive for a distorted illusion of happiness.
Since that kind of connection between people feels supportive, we hold onto the story of our pain. We can tell the story again sometime (even if it’s just to ourselves). The interesting thing about “holding onto our pain” is that it actually takes us away from happiness, authentic communication, and it prevents us from living our lives fully.
When we “hold onto” our pain, when we bring our past difficult stories with us, what we’re really saying is: “I don’t want to be here, right now, as things are. I also don’t want to know what potential my future holds. I’m more interested in being with the more familiar experience of my painful and uncomfortable feelings.”
Nobody wants to admit that to themselves.
Yet it happens -every- time we continue to dwell in pain over something that is not occurring in the present moment. This can be as simple as telling your friend later in the day about that “jerk” who cut you off in traffic, that co-worker who talked bad about you behind your back, or your partner or friend who was so involved in his/her own story that you never got a chance to actually connect.
It happens in big and small ways. It happens to me every day. Not because I want the pain. Not because I want to avoid the present moment or the future. It happens because that’s a habit of the Inner Critic and my subconscious mind.
(and yours too)
If I were to oversimplify, I would say that when we “hold onto” our pain, what we’re really doing is giving up on life. After all, if we truly felt otherwise, we’d live in the moment and not in the past where our stories of pain reside.
Byron Katie nailed it when she named her book, “Who would you be without your story?” Really. Candidly speaking, while I have a few clues as to who I’d be, I don’t truly know. Not from a 24-7 experiential perspective.
And if you’re reading my messages, this is also true of you to some degree…
Your Partner In Transformation,
Liberate Your Life
P.S. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that acknowledging or experiencing your pain is bad. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary to living a happy and fulfilled life.
Thus the question for you to explore is: How can you live so that the inevitable pain of being human doesn’t become a story (or badge of honor) that drags you back into the past?
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