The foundation of any true healing process begins and ends with acceptance.

The difficulty lies in opening our minds to such a wild, irrational notion. Why would we want to accept our pain? Why would we want to love our pain? We can feel immediate alarm and consternation at such a radical idea. What if doing this only makes the pain worse?

We don’t recognize that this can often be based on a simple bias that has been embedded into our psyche over time. This bias tells us one simple thing over and over: Pain is bad.

But what if…

What if our source of pain was actually, in truth, a messenger? And what if, in truth, this messenger was only doing what it knew to do…speak its truth to us? And not just any truth, but the truths that we forgot over time…our deepest, soul-honoring truths.

It was through daring to open up to my pain that I began to understand it was not my enemy. It was not here to be a constant antagonist or bully to me.

Instead, my pain was here to remind me of my truth.

My pain was here to set me free from old thinking and old ideas that were keeping me trapped in unhealthy patterns of living.

Through inviting the pain to speak I could finally get beyond the clutter in my mind and the bias that was narrating my approach to pain.

“Pain is bad.”

I would challenge that now. Pain is uncomfortable.

And perhaps we should be asking why. Why are we in pain and why are we uncomfortable?

This isn’t done in a judgmental tone but rather in a curious tone. (Any of us that have spent some time learning about mindfulness might recognize this approach.) Is our discomfort due to a part of ourselves that we have lost, forgotten, or abandoned? Is our discomfort asking us to recognize a part of our authentic self, waiting to be recovered?

When we dismiss, ignore, or repress our pain, this hinders us from moving forward in healing. Many of us have subconsciously learned to do this. Many of us have experienced others doing this to us and have then done the same to others in return. We learn through these experiences that our pain doesn’t matter.

But our pain does matter. For however strong and pervasive and loud the message is for us to ignore pain…we must tune in to the still, small whisper that urges us to listen.

Healing requires listening, but more importantly, it requires we listen first.

That can’t happen until we stop trying to fix the pain.

This was a tough lesson for me and for a while, it was one on repeat. I wanted to get rid of the pain. I wanted to fix myself. I wanted to overcome my bad situation, just like all my inspiring archetypes had modeled for me in the books and movies.

But if we are bold and daring enough, we can stop hustling and fixing and doing. We can pause. We can stop and look at what “is.” As we see what our current reality is, we can open to it.

Without even realizing it, this first step has vast potential to change everything. By opening up a space of compassion for our pain, it becomes safe for us to listen and hear what it’s communicating.

And in this way—in what might initially seem like a rather small and insignificant shift—something incredibly important and significant begins. From this small seed of acceptance, we can bring a great gift to ourselves. We can change the environment our pain exists within.

In the beginning, it can be easy to carry the fear that we’re only empowering our pain through such a process. But we come to discover as we begin, that in truth, we’re only empowering ourselves.

Pain is part of who we are. Suffering is part of what we experience in this life. We can choose to fear it, or we can engage with it and learn from it.

This is not a shaming or self-disciplining process. Pain is never surfacing to accuse us of being in the wrong place. This is part of what we so often misunderstand about pain.

Pain wants to teach us a very sacred lesson that goes back to self-trust. Pain knows that we may not be able to see the things entangling us in the moment, but it wishes to set us free.

And so we come to ultimately understand that pain is not an accuser. Pain is a liberator. This is its deepest truth. This is the language of pain.

Image Credit: Vipada Jakavanphituk (Cuded Art & Design)

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