Our human tendency is avoidance when it comes to anticipating any painful experience be it a situation, a memory, or simply a reaction to someone. So much of pain is FEAR of pain. Phil Stutz and Barry Michaels in their 2012 book “The Tools” declare, “If you can’t tolerate pain, you can’t be fully alive.” An example they give is “If you’re creative but can’t tolerate criticism, then you avoid selling your ideas to the marketplace.” This of course can be applied to a plethora of life experiences. The result being that if avoidance of pain is your top priority you have boxed yourself in to a very limited life with limited growth. You are therefore limiting your experiences of deep satisfaction and accomplishment.
I think knowing, really knowing, that you are fully capable of handling pain, without falling apart or dying, you increase your ability to live well exponentially. So when the thought of doing something to move you forward in relationships, new activities, etc. stirs up a spike of uncontrollable anxiety, remember you can walk through the painful feelings. Experience what you fear and the fear reduces. Keep doing it and your fear goes off into such a distant place it is completely manageable.
Hooray! Then you have accomplished two significant things: 1) you have released yourself from the prison of a very limited life; and 2) you have reduced your pain. It is like that old saying, “Acceptance is the paradox of change.” When we accept pain as part of growth and living we have less of it. Amazing. Wonderful.
-Mary Seyuin, M.A. LLP 11/15/12