Written by Nira Hall
lluminating our life’s purpose and living the reality of who we really are is a beautiful, freeing concept. Many of us devour personal development books, articles and podcasts to help us stay grounded in the knowing that we are powerful creators. In reality, getting and staying on this path can be overwhelming, dark, and at times miserable. It’s important to acknowledge and embrace the darker aspects of our experience, including our pain, as a vehicle for learning and deeper understanding.
This “pain” can show up as sorrow, despair, feeling stuck, need for control, anger, perfectionism, the voice of our inner critic, physical ailments, our wounded child self, and so one. There are countless faces of pain in our lives and it’s important to get intimate with all of them.As a culture and within the pop psychology movement we often deem our pain as bad, which is just another act of chipping away at our personal self-worth. Making any part of oneself “bad” can be felt as an act of deep betrayal by the psyche.
This article is not a call for us to live in our pain for a prolonged period of time, but to simply start to form a compassionate relationship with it. The more we ignore, suppress, and demonize our pain, the more it will continue to vie for our attention. Seeing pain and struggle as an opportunity for growth can be a ticket to greater wholeness, well-being and personal freedom.
The next time any emotional or physical pain arises, think of this acronym:
Pay Attention In the Now.
The truth is that the pain we feel is often a messenger. This pain is known as our “shadow self” and is a call to live more in alignment with who we really are. When we emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually seek to become authentic and live in integrity with our life purpose, the universe will hear that call and responds instantaneously. All the places in our lives that are not in alignment with the wholeness that we seek are often illuminated through pain. The subconscious mind uses symbols, such as emotional or physical pain, to communicate with us when it needs our attention.
When we find ourselves down in the dumps, it is essential to connect with the part of us that feels the emotional or physical pain in order to gain greater understanding of our needs. This can be achieved through the following exercise. Get a pen and paper and get ready to do some free flow writing. This activity is best done by using the non-dominant hand for writing, which will help slow down brain processing and access resources and greater insight from the in the body and mind.
Ask the part that is in pain (e.g. the inner critic, control freak, the anxious or afraid part, and on on) the following questions. Spend time with each question and let the non-dominant hand do the writing. Avoid thinking about the words and just let them flow onto the paper.
Questions to ask the pain:
1) What is the pain afraid of?
2) What is the pain’s purpose in my life?
3) When was the pain created?
4) What is the brain trying to bring to my attention?
5) What does the pain need from me right now?
6) How can we work together in a more loving and whole way?
These questions are a phenomenal start to bringing greater compassion into our lives and allowing more of our authentic selves to unfold. Spend some time engaging with the shadow self in this way and soon healthier ways of meeting personal needs will be uncovered. This is an intimate exercise of stepping into one’s true power with the recognition that all aspects of our experience are opportunities for growth, expansion, and more joy.
Go ahead, give the exercise a go! The results may help to create inspiration and deeper wholeness.