Is your pain something to be experienced, worked through or overcome? Or is your pain a weapon?
For some men, their pain can become a weapon they use against others rather than an experience to overcome. I see this all of the time in my Counseling practice. Adolescents use their childhood issues to blame their parents for their current addiction, criminal behavior or aggressiveness. Parents rage at their teenagers rather than acknowledge that (like everyone else…) they have been less than perfect.
It is a myth that you need to get rid of your demons
When I was younger, I thought that pain was something to be avoided at all costs. I shudder when I write this, because I know that I caused myself years of unnecessary suffering. When I learned to accept my pain and love myself through the process, through the experience, it changed me. Most days, I have more peace. But other days, the demons still visit me. But rather than taking over my moods, they are less powerful. My relationship with my demons, my pain, has changed.
Addressing your pain is difficult and may take longer and be more challenging than you wish. As a man, it can be easier to avoid or just numb it. Pain can also be fashioned into sharp blades of blame, anger, justification and attack. Inside we hurt, but rather than face our experience, we lash out.
It can feel natural to go to war with our pain or with other people, or to wall ourselves off in self-protection or to walk away and engage in behaviors that numb and avoid. Men are discouraged from owning our pain, talking about it, and most of all, being vulnerable.
The power in acceptance
All men have their own pain. It may be caused by abuse, rejection, divorce, betrayal, addiction or mental illness. Men may take steps to try to fix their pain or to fight it. This might make some men feel like wrenching, but men can learn a different approach to our pain: pain can be accepted.
“Acceptance does not mean putting up with or resigning yourself to anything. Acceptance is about embracing life, not merely tolerating it. Acceptance literally means “taking what is offered.” It doesn’t mean giving up or admitting defeat; it doesn’t mean just gritting your teeth and bearing it. Acceptance is like finding a firm foot hold. It’s a realistic appraisal of where your feet are and what condition the ground is in. It doesn’t mean that you like being in that spot, or that you intend to stay there.” Russ Harris
Acceptance is not a cure-all. Acceptance means that you face your life, what is inside and on the outside. Acceptance means that you find courage, you find the true source of your power.
“Your flaws are what make you powerful…”
If you enjoyed this article, you may want to see some of my other work:
I write articles that talk about the kind of changes I am trying to make in my own life. I hope that my writing also helps you. My topics include addiction and mental health recovery, relationships, and personal growth. I work as an Addiction Therapist, an Editor for the Good Men Project and freelance writer, and Adjunct Professor at City University, Edmonton. But what is most important is that I have a family and I am in recovery from depression and anxiety. My mental health experiences are part of my personal University degree, but they do not define me.
I hope to inspire you, to inform you and on occasion to entertain you. But most of all, I want to connect with you. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.
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Keep it Real
Photo by Russ