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  • SuePattonThoele

Facing and Embracing



Pain has a bad reputation. Our instinct is to avoid it, resist it, and downplay it with the hope it will disappear. It doesn’t. In reality, pain is a master teacher to your soul. Without it, you would not be as compassionate, wise, or strong. Your best source of understanding, transformation, and growth is the exploration and healing of pain.


I grant you, pain hurts. It was the excruciating pain ignited by the failure of my first marriage that forced me to face and embrace aspects of myself I didn’t even know existed. Believe me, I resisted what pain had to offer because the feelings were so tsunami-like. I was afraid I’d be washed away, annihilated by anger, and irreparably broken by grief. But I sold myself short, as we often do, because I emerged—with a lot of help from friends and teachers, two young sons, a dog, a kitten, and a bunny—infinitely stronger, more compassionate, and confident in my ability to learn from future pain and sorrow. From that experience, I can vouch for Kahlil Gibran’s teaching “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”


Understanding and transformation can develop as you:


Invite assistance: When pain is intense, you typically need help and guidance to move through it constructively. Assistance comes in myriad forms. Humans, angels, God, your own imagination, therapists, support groups, whatever or whoever feels supportive and nurturing to you.


Face: Gather your courage—you are far more courageous than you feel!—and turn to meet your pain. Small glimpses at a time are fine.


Explore: Become curious. Curiosity neutralizes resistance and defuses fear. Getting to know something renders it less frightening. Name it. Notice what it looks like. Is there a subpersonality that embodies this pain? If so, gently and nonjudgmentally become acquainted.


Embrace: Greet your pain. “Hi! I recognize you. What have you got to teach me this time?” Fill your heart with acceptance and embrace your pain as is. It’s okay to fake it till you feel it. Just set an intention to embrace and accept until you actually accomplish it. Embracing and accepting pain as a wise and loving mentor allow its energy to transform and flow into healing and resolution.


During your day...


  • If need be, entertain the idea of viewing pain differently.

  • If pain is too scary to face right now, shrink it to the size of a lucky penny and carry it in your pocket until you are able to face it.

Facing and embracing are transformative and empowering.

Excerpted from The Woman's Book of Strength by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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