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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: June 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Worry Train or Hang Gliding on Feelings (the stories we tell ourselves)

I have often written about how our thoughts are like lightening during the day.  I think this is especially true for anxious thoughts that cause worry feelings.  Many people feel some sort of unease in their life, and experience the unease in their bodies as well.  For some the experience is a  very big and obvious feeling of discomfort and for others it  feels more like a low, but  uncomfortable vibration just underneath the surface.

We all have so many thoughts all the time, many of which we are not consciously aware of - that is the nature of thought and of the human experience. But understanding how and why we attach ourselves to those thoughts and can go a long way towards influencing our experience of each other, of life, of ourselves. 

When a thought or thought pattern comes into our head and we latch on, or start hang gliding on it, we close ourselves off to deeper levels of consciousness, of awareness about what we are thinking, and we close off the possibility of the thoughts and feelings passing without any action having to take place; we shut off the possibility of new, more relaxing, life giving ideas and feelings coming to us.
Deciding to be less attached to each thought or to turn the volume down on our thoughts by looking out for negative thinking patterns and not latching on so fast does not mean dishonoring our emotional pain or checking our brains at the door.  It means paying deeper attention to what we are experiencing and being open to letting it breath so that it can pass through if it's meant to pass and to open us back up again to new ideas and new ways of experiencing our world. 

It seems too simple at times, to say, lighten up or cheer up or chin up, or to tell yourself a new story.  Our old stories have meaning to us, sometimes we don't even know how much meaning they have or how much we believe that they protect us or serve us.  We can be afraid to see things differently or to let things go.  We can feel very entitled to our feelings, and we may very well be, but it's worth considering that being open to understanding more about how and why we think the way we do, or to letting our feelings and thoughts come, but also go, and not deciding to hang glide on one or two, can be very liberating.   The worry train can pull into the station, but we don't always have to get on.  We can notice it.  We can let it pull out of the station and keep going, and see if a better train pulls in.

You might be surprised at the outcome.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Fabric of Pain

“Pain is like fabric: The stronger it is, the more it’s worth.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
I'm not totally sure about this one, but it's good grist for the mill.  What do you think?
Perhaps in the deep end of emotional pain, it doesn't matter really what, if anything, the pain is worth.
On the other hand, if at least the hurt is worth something, it helps it to be more bearable.  If we can feel it, allow it, without acting on it in ways that hurt us or hurt others, if we can name it and say it and know it, and learn something from it, then perhaps it is worth something of value to us.
Not that you would sign up for it, but most people have some kind of pain at some point in life.  And if you can get curious about what the fabric of your pain is made of, you often find that there much more to it.  Most pain has mixed colors, mixed textures, old and new feelings, patterns, origins.  Pain teaches us about what we value, what we need, what we believe.  It teaches us to look  more deeply at life, and then, to not.  To give ourselves a break and a breather.
Sometimes there is not a clear way through.  There are lots of good therapies, techniques, principals, methods, theories to help us clear away the blocks to knowing more about ourselves, to changing our state of mind, our not-so-useful-anymore behaviors, our attitudes, our feelings.  But when it comes down to it, I think we have to trust our own process, our own innate sense of what we can take in and how we metabolize feelings and ideas. 
There is often an urgency associated with pain, understandably, and of course.  It can be very hard to tolerate.  Anger, frustration, hurt, loneliness, self pity, grief.  They can get overwhelming and the urge to "get rid of" or to distance ourselves from those feelings can seem full of charge.  But the process of being with ourselves and in our experience and getting through can and does have value if we look for it, and better can and does come, and we can turn around and use that to help ourselves further, and to help others, and that, I'm pretty sure, is worth something.