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Finding Purpose in Pain

Posted May 16 2011 12:07am


“Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they're afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It's all in how you carry it. That's what matters.” - Jim Morrison

If you’ve been reading my blog posts, you know that I have a firm belief that true health, encompassing all aspects of health, stems from having a purpose in life. It can only be achieved, I believe, if one can see his or her body as a means to utilize their gifts and talents, and consequently strive to care for their body in such a way as to enhance their ability to better their world. What do you think is the biggest roadblock to living in this way? I think there are two major roadblocks, but I’m just going to address one today; and these are pain and apathy. When I refer to pain, I am including all emotions and experiences that are associated with heartache, disappointment, embarrassment, hurt feelings, and dissatisfaction. Pain has the potential to edify and strengthen ones capacity for true health, but it also has the potential to paralyze an individual’s desire for true health.  It all has to do with how we deal with pain. Do you acknowledge its presence? Or do you numb it with obsessions, addictions, and a false sense of happiness? Pain is real. We all face it and all sources of our pain are worth dealing with. We face these painful thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.  Our pain influences all of our actions, thought processes, decisions, and interactions with others. If our painful thoughts, feelings, and experiences have such a huge impact on our lives, as I am implying here, then they are something we should address when seeking true health in our lives.
It’s important for us to seize every opportunity we are given to learn and grow. This includes painful opportunities. It is so easy to become angry at our misfortune. It’s not fair. We didn’t do anything to deserve what happens to us. These thoughts plague our minds during times of hardship. It’s so tempting to play the victim in life. I do it all the time. We blind ourselves with the misery of the trials and difficulties of our own lives until we are unable to see the bridge that these circumstances create to bring us to a more able, gifted, and equipped version of ourselves. With each painful experience comes a new purpose for your life. Just think about how many people you can help because of your life’s circumstances up to this point. I’ve seen this to be true in my own life. The more I allow myself to deal with my painful thoughts and experiences, the more I am able to grow and share my story with others to help them deal with their pain. The lessons I have learned from addressing my pain have enabled me to walk through more difficult times with a sense of determination and preparedness.
I guess there are two points I am trying to make here. First, don’t ignore your pain. Numbing or ignoring your pain will only lead to deeper, more complex emotional issues that will eventually surface. You can only ignore the negative nature of your own mind for so long. Deal with these issues and search for peace from the destruction your pain creates. Secondly, look for purpose in all you encounter, especially your pain. In all painful situations, you have three choices. 1. You ignore your hurt and pain. You don’t consciously acknowledge it, but it is always there… reminding your of its presence. 2. You dwell on your pain. You beat yourself up and allow yourself to wallow in self-pity because of the pain you feel. You remind everyone of your pain and of his or her role in the development of your pain. 3. You step back and look at the situation from an outside perspective. You see how the pain you feel has affected your relationships, thoughts, and actions. You see what purpose this pain can have in your life. How can you use your circumstances to help those around you? How can you become a better person because of this pain? And how can you avoid 1. and 2. from overtaking your thoughts? 
There aren’t always answers for our pain and hurt. But if your life could be spent in one of the three ways I just described, which would your prefer? In order for us to continue on this path of true health, we must deal with the painful thoughts and experiences we deal with every day. It takes time and a conscious effort. But once you begin to use your pain to help ease the pain for someone else, the load your pain bears on you will lighten. It will become yet another means for you to find purpose in your life, and therefore another motivation for you to see yourself and your physical body as a tool to better the world around you. 
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