Are You Attached to Suffering?

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How a Self Love Practice Helps you Heal Faster

In Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, she devotes time to debunking the myth that in order to be creative, you must suffer.  Most of us have that image, right – of the angst ridden, starving Artist that finds inspiration for their work in the muck and the drudgery and the pain of life?  Or how about if the story goes something like this…

As a Self Love Coach, I hear echoes of “no pain, no gain” in my clients unconscious (and sometimes conscious) beliefs. I read it on Facebook, I overhear it in conversations. In fact, I hear that same myth in my own voice too: in order to have what I want, I have to suffer first.  I have to earn it.  If I don’t feel pain, I’m not getting any benefit.

In order to do my work – which is to support YOU in creating the overall habit of Self Love – I am continuously confronted with the opportunities to PRACTICE Self Love.  Sometimes I am a Rock Star at it…

And sometimes, I Suffer…

Sometimes when I’m suffering, I get it in my head that I’m being most loving toward myself by enduring the suffering.  I convince myself that in order to learn the lesson, I have to stay in the pain, the challenge, the struggle.  I’m “not allowed” to let the suffering flow through me or find relief by reaching out to someone for support or pulling out my tools.  I’m “doing the work” when I’m enduring the pain or discomfort.  If I soothe myself, I’m “bypassing” the healing and the lesson.

Do you have a story that sounds a bit like that?

You can’t heal when you’re in pain

Ani Anderson, of New Health and an expert on pain says, “a person can’t heal when they are stressed- in the sympathetic state- because that’s not possible. They can only heal when they are in parasympathetic. And since pain is perceived threat, yes, I would say that [a person can’t heal when he or she is in pain].”

To be sure, pain and circumstances that cause suffering provide us with information.  When I put my hand on the hot stove, the pain tells me to move my hand!  There is no benefit to keeping my hand on the stove to “learn the lesson.”  And my hand will not begin to heal until I remove it from the hot stove and tend to my wounds.

When we attach ourselves to our suffering, it’s as if we keep our hand on the hot stove.  When we move from crisis to crisis instead of gathering resources and tools to manage our stress, we put our hand on the stove repeatedly.  Either way, we remain stuck in only tending to the overwhelming pain, never allowing our system to move into the parasympathetic state so our hand can heal.

Suffer Well

Suffering happens – there’s no way to avoid it.  Suffering is the compliment to happiness. Their dance let’s us know we’re living our human experience!  However, we can cultivate the capacity to suffer well.  Resources (such as tools or professional support) allow the discomfort or pain from suffering to flow through us, without attachment. Using our tools to soothe the system, we flow from the stressed to the resourced state and can now redirect the system to the healing process.

Having a Self Love Practice means that you are allowed to take your hand off the stove.  You don’t have to “lean in” to the pain or attach to suffering in order to get the benefits of the information provided.  Love yourself enough to take your hand off the stove – reach out to a supportive friend, cultivate tools that you can use to move into the parasympathetic state, or seek out guidance from a professional.  When we learn how to Suffer Well – neither resisting nor attaching to the pain – we can become the Master of our Healing Journey.