Dwelling on pain can bring, healing, growth, and change.
The past few days in America marked historical events. Georgia flipping colours and choosing Democrats to have a majority in the senate…
Followed immediately by Capitol Hill getting marched on by pro-Trump supporters after one of Trump’s rallies.
Even though I’m not American, there is still a lot of horror, shock and concern around all this that I’m experiencing. And yet, I’m not surprised at all that this would happen.
Trump has been building a cult for four long years with hundreds of others in positions of power and influence clinging to him and spouting the same sort of message. They were building a fire for years and it’s now where they’ve brought out the fans to spread it further than ever.
There is so much to be unpacking and doing about all this of course, but the stings will be lingering for days, weeks, months, and no doubt years from this point.
For many, these events will be ingrained into their minds for the rest of their lives.
These kinds of pains aren’t things that can be cured. They linger inside of us, emerge in the back of our minds and remind us constantly. They’ll come in as flashes and leave us uncomfortable, sad, hurt, frustrated.
I should know. I’ve experienced these since I was a teenager. The only difference is these flashes were regrets on incredibly minor things.
Insignificant to these painful events that people witnessed first hand in the heat of the moment. In their country.
I’m merely an outsider, watching from a distance as all of this unfolds, incapable of doing anything about it. And I’m still trying to process everything that happened with respect to that.
But one thing that I do know is pain. And even though my past pains are nothing in comparison to what happened in America, I know that the basics of pain and dwelling on it can help people move forward.
Or at the very least provide some level of breathing space away from the constant streams of social media coverage around this event happening as I’m typing this out.
These reasons though extend well beyond these past events, so keep these in mind moving forward.
Good Can Spark From This
Any kind of negative emotion sparks us to react immediately without much thought. It’s a natural part of ourselves as we generally don’t like experiencing or dealing with negative things. But when it comes to pain, many people go a step further than this and often think in absolutes. You either have had a “good” or a “bad” day. You either experienced pain or you haven’t.
The problem with this way of thinking is that there isn’t room for any grey areas. People focus in on the major events that were bad and not the good that sparked from this. There is a lot of pain and negativity surrounding the march on Capitol Hill, but there’s also been a lot of good sprinkled throughout this.
Despite half of America indulging in racism, the other portion of the population voted for several people of colour into government positions, booted Donald Trump out of the White House and banned from Twitter (temporarily, unfortunately), and are now making efforts to make changes in their lives in many different ways.
There is still some level of hope.
There is going to be way more hardship moving forward and America isn’t out of the clear yet, however this pain — or any other pain — will have a silver lining to it if you look around for it. To do that, it’s key to be looking at the pain and the things surrounding it.
Pain Can Be Manipulated If You Know It
The pain from the march and many other pains typically stem from sources that you don’t have any control over. We have no way of stopping them and more will surely come. However, what you can do moving forward is determine the meaning of those events.
That’s not to say you ought to see painful events as not painful at all, rather, see them as ways of creating value for yourself.
The flash episodes that I get on occasion serve as reminders for myself for what I ought to do in future situations. These are small things like being more confident about certain topics and admitting to myself that I’m in an area I’m unfamiliar with and should try to back out of it. Other cases it can be advice that I can offer to people in the future through my content.
The key to all of these pains is to ask yourself a simple question:
“What does this mean to me? What can I do to improve and heal?”
What happened on Capitol Hill was disgusting, and disturbing. However people are already starting the healing process in their own way. They’re getting angry and frustrated. They’re also providing solutions and clear actions.
Ban Trump from Twitter, impeach him, ridicule, shame and prosecute every person who marched onto Capitol Hill.
These are small fixes to the problem of course, but these are healing thoughts. And hopefully suggestions that are taken seriously too. After all, dwelling on pain brings understanding, thoughtfulness and motivation according to Steven Stosny, Ph.D..
It Can Lead To Welcoming And Transformation
Although grief is welcome here and there is a chapter dedicated to welcoming in those feelings, this journey isn’t about dwelling in your wounded places…my inclination is that a more helpful and transformative place to spend our time is in the invitation into presence and learning ways to really listen…rather than getting stuck in thoughts and judgments. — Christine Valters Paintner in The Wisdom of the Body
What this quote suggests is to welcome pain and emotional pain without dwelling on the wounds that are caused by it. It encourages us to look and listen inwards towards a transformational place. Not only to our bodies, but our mindset as well.
Our mindset is most important as where our brain registers pain, nearby that area are the areas where we register stories about our resilience, resourcefulness, worth, goodness, wisdom and discernment.
This area is key since our brains are hardwired to lean towards negativity. We’re more inclined to look at these events as depressing and sit in that spot for prolonged periods of time. But a little fine tuning — such as hearing about stories of resilience, worth, of good and others — our brain will light up and we can find motivation.
Motivation that can spark action.
That march is an example of this at work. Albeit it a dark example, but an example nonetheless.
What we decide to do from those actions though is up to us. We can either double down — as some people are doing — or we can seek out more constructive growth and change within our lives and to our own world.
Pain Can Be Sobering
“I hated being depressed, but it was also in my depression that I learned my own acreage, the full extent of my soul. When I feel happy, I feel slightly distracted, as though it fails to use some part of my mind and brain that wants the exercise”. — Andrew Soloman
One thing that I learned about self improvement is that when bad things happen, they actually are good things. As humans, it’s to be accepted that in order to succeed at something, you have to be willing to fail a few times.
You can’t make a Gordon Ramsey-style dish on your first try. You have to start with small steps and gradually grow from those experiences.
Emotions all work the same way as Andrew Soloman outlines a bit in the quote. When he was depressed, it was around this time he learned the most about himself.
Well that is the case with all negative emotions.
Anxiety, depression, grief, sorrow.
Pain demands us to feel it and it demands us to figure out what is going on with us. By extension, emotional pain works the same way. We strive to understand it and therefore understand more about ourselves and what works.
This builds emotional intelligence as we are more aware of what causes us to feel those emotions. This can’t happen if we deny those emotions or water down those emotions.
It’s similar to the parenting advice of letting a child explore those emotions when they feel upset, angry or sad. It’s better for a parent to position themselves as an emotional mentor rather than denying, forcefully correcting, or doing nothing at all about the behaviour.
Those other alternatives lead children to lead very different lives. Often times not being able to make friends, and have lower self-esteem.
All of those things increase exponentially as a child becomes an adult. If we never learn to dwell and manage pain, it’ll never get easier. Only until we dwell on it and aim to understand it as adults can we find transformation and understanding of ourselves.
Pain Can Lead To Emotional Acceptance
By extension of sobering, it also allows us to have emotional acceptance. There is mounting evidence that supports that we can re-condition our reactions to things to serve long-term control over our emotions. When people are displaying outbursts of emotions, it often means that they can’t control their own emotions in either a social or professional environment.
And considering the fact there are all kinds of pain and negative emotions flying about, being able to control these is an important maneuver. It not only leads to thing that I’ve mentioned but it also allows us to reach out when we need help with something.
And sometimes the person you need to reach out to is from within.
Nobody is invincible, but pain allows us the opportunity to get kicked down only for ourselves to be our own best friend and rise back up. To do this, we need to have a level of emotional acceptance. To not deny that pain, but rise all the same despite that and do something about it.
It Moves Us Forward
Sit with the pain until it passes, and you will be calmer for the next one. Naval Ravikant
Pain allows us to move forward and gives us the tools to do so. With every action, there is a lesson to be learned. That lesson becomes clear when we experience the pain.
Maybe you won’t learn of it immediately. It could take a few days as you process the pain and try to understand it. But this entire process is part of the healing that’ll allow us to move forward.
To hopefully be better than we were before.
Naturally, not every person is going to learn this lesson and keep doing what they are doing. But history has a way of repeating itself. That pain will come again and again until it is understood and the person has changed.
But for those looking to grow, one can find solace in that pain and the lesson that comes with it. It can lead to a more prominent change and in some cases redemption.
We all know that through this pain, there is a better world and better opportunities out there. It’s up to us to figure out what those are and to take action.
Pain Is Temporary, Change Is Forever
The pain that we’re feeling from the march or from any other experience is temporary. Yes, we can get painful reminders, but these don’t have to plague our minds as we keep moving forward.
It’s key that we dwell on the pain now and reflect on what we can do better for next time. We can look back at those events and glean new information from it, bring new understanding, and thus grow and change into someone better.
The changes we make will impact our lives from this point forward. It’s up to you to decide what sort of impact you are looking for.