Avoiding Pain, How Not To
I've noticed how much we want to avoid pain... I'm talking about emotional pain. It's okay, because who would want to be in emotional pain. But here's the deal: you're going to stay stuck > if you commit to avoiding pain.
A lot of our pain comes from wanting other people to be different. We commit to this, and spend a lot of time trying to get partners, parents, children, friends to be different. If only... if only they would see things our way and do what we think they should do.
As long as we are trying to get people to be different, we are minimizing our own pain in a way. Because this process of nagging, arm twisting, cajoling, reminding, is seemingly less pain than the pain we are afraid of called "letting go."
But often in relationships we have difficulty letting go. Letting go means accepting others as they are, and then what... What will we do about it that just relates to ourself?
In the beginning of relationships, there may be something we don't like in a person. But, we hope, it won't be a big deal. Or, we hope, they will change. So we stay in there and keep getting more attached, and potentially more disillusioned and frustrated and distracted.
It really is true that the only person we can change is ourself. And think how hard that is. It's not fun to look inward and realize you are in charge of you and your life. Wanting someone else to change is being dis-empowered.
Wanting others to be different is a way to avoid pain... it seems painful, but at least (we think) there is some hope.
If you want to avoid pain, I'm going to encourage you not to... not to avoid the pain that brings growth. There is the dead-end pain of constantly wanting someone to change. And then there is growth pain of being willing to sit with yourself and breathe into your own pain as you move through it into freedom.
The way I broke that obsession was something called: continuing to do my work. Even as I cried, and felt lonely, and felt confused and bereft... I stayed with my own work to expect more from my relationships and even my relationship with me. If I truly feel worthy and okay about myself, then it's highly unlikely I would need to convince anyone to do anything differently. I could more easily accept others where they are because I accept me where I am. This is an importart part of our healing journey - accepting I am okay.
As I have learned to sit with the pain of not getting what I want from others, I have found compassion for myself, and deep gratitude that an imaginary friend aka force of the Universe named Wanda Petunia came to be my companion too.
For me, Wanda Petunia has been a part of myself to remind me:
1) I prefer alone to conflictual company,
2) I can honor myself without anyone else changing,
3) I am worthy to live a life where I am respected without having to demand this right.
You can bring Wanda into your life, if you need these reminders too!
If you are feeling pain from not getting what you want, from being lonely, from not wanting to allow, from being frustrated, from fear... then please consider being present with your pain. Don't try to twist someone else into what you want. Don't try to twist life into what you want.
Instead, be present with yourself... breathing and bringing comfort to yourself. Tell yourself you are there for you. Tell yourself you can get through this. Tell yourself that you will commit to expecting respect and kindness that is freely offered and not something you pressure another person to do.
When you are alone, and you allow and let go... this is a precious time to be with you. Spend time in nature, watch movies you enjoy, cry, fix yourself tea, seek out positive activities, take a class, read, travel alone... because the better you feel about yourself and life the more you will be ready for all the good that's coming your way!
When you are willing to sit with your pain, and comfort yourself and make choices that honor your desires... you will become so powerful. Release the pain of the dead-end, and embrace the pain of growth. That is where your true freedom and joy lies!
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Luiz
You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha, Tara Brach