On Pain as a Messenger
These pains you feel are messengers - listen to them. Rumi.
We all feel pain. It’s an inevitable part of being alive. Our bodies are incredible systems of nerve endings and impulses, wired for pleasure and pain. And in my observation, a lot of us are feeling a whole lot more pain than pleasure in our day to day lives.
Take your mind back to the last time you felt pain in your body. You might not need to think back very far, or at all. Can you locate the precise location of the pain? The quality of it (throbbing, sharp, dull, achy etc)? Did you notice when it started and if it has ended, when it went away?
Did you notice what you did in response to the pain?
Our most common instinctual responses to pain are to ignore it for as long as we can, to numb it in some way, or to force ourselves to push through.
As women we seem to be highly wired to push through pain, to make our lives go on, business as usual. How many of us make time and room for our pain?
Let’s unpack pain a little.
Our bodies speak to us and the world with the language of sensation. Take your mind back to that last time you felt pain, but this time, see if you can listen. Listen as if the soft animal of your body was whispering messages to you. If you can listen, I wonder what you will hear?
With all of the different sensations and feelings that our bodies use to communicate with us, pain is the one that our bodies use when all other the other attempts at communication have been ignored.
This is not a criticism or blame for not listening to your body in the past. We’re not taught to listen to our bodies and we are definitely not taught to trust what we hear when we do listen.
So, pain can be shocking, and it can feel like it is coming out of nowhere.
But there are always messages in sensation.
As we begin to heal, one of the gifts of the healing is that it gets easier and easier to listen to our bodies. And then, as we start to develop that relationship and the vocabulary of our bodies, not only do we strengthen the most important relationship we can have (with ourselves!), we begin to have more choice.
More choice around listening and respecting what our body is asking, so that pain doesn’t have to be the language that our body turns to, screaming at us to listen because asking quietly hasn’t worked.
More choice around the ways that we can respect and honour ourselves, and live our lives for ourselves, instead of to please everyone around us (that’s a big underlying story for pain, so more on that later!).
More choice around healing our bodies, and finding what really works for us, so that we can stop guessing and instead focus on what is getting us results.
More choice about making our healing journey one of mystery and adventure, rather than shame and blame.
More choice around choosing pleasure as a life style and a road to healing.
Check in next week for Part 2 of On Physical Pain as a Messenger, where we unpack a new way of thinking about pain and healing.