Don’t kill the messenger: pain is also the source of compassion.
The other day, I was running on the beach and a piece of glass sliced into the sole of my foot. Immediately, I winced and stopped to examine the cut. It occurred to me through the pain, how miraculous it is that our bodies instantly alert us to what we need to do to help protect and heal ourselves.
We are biomechanically engineered to ensure survival and to do what we need to thrive. If we are searching for miracles in our lives, we don’t really need to look too far. It’s there in every breath we take, in every move we make and in our amazing ability to heal.
On a physical level, pain receptors are located throughout our body. When there’s a stimulus or pain, these receptors immediately release chemicals sending information to the brain that something needs to be done. In our Mental Toughness training, we share with athletes that the chemicals are there to teach us something and to get us to act.
The problem is, sometimes we choose to push down or away the hurt. But, how we interpret and deal with our hurt makes all the difference in our growth and evolution: do we harden with fear or melt into pure potential?
The best, hardest and often simplest solution is to address our hurt head-on, whether it is physical or emotion or a combination of both.
Everyone is human. We all make mistakes. We all suffer and we all can choose to be real with our feelings. Pain can actually give us opportunities for connection if we choose to reach out, because no one is immune to hurt and pain.
The Latin for the word “compassion” originally meant, “to suffer with.” The moments of our lives, when everything seems to be coming apart, melting down and you can no longer hold up the illusion that everything is OK, can be the best times because you get the love and support you need from family, teammates and friends.
Compassion happens, because we all have been hurt. Compassion comes, not out of pity, but from experience.
Pain can also uncover the truth and the need to reevaluate the relationships in our lives, if they are not compassionate and supportive.
Certain lessons in our lives can only be learned through the shattering, through the rattling, shaking and sometimes cracking of our foundation to build anew.
Pain often times can soften the soul and remind us of the sense of being alive. It offers information, telling us something needs to be examined and fixed.
Instead of mourning our wounds and scars, we can see them as moments for growing, for defining who we are, for creating deeper levels of empathy and compassion. Here is where we can cultivate grace, because the moments that slice us, tear us down, and cause us to crumble also gives us the chance to accept ourselves, to take better care of ourselves and to learn from the pain.
By approaching our challenges with gratitude for what we’re learning, we can watch our relationship with suffering and pain begin to transform.
And that is why pain is a wonderful thing.
Image credit :esper.art.br/Flickr