Don’t numb it, feel it all: Loss, Addiction, and Growing from Pain

Pain is the gateway to transformational change.

We don’t like pain. Lately I have recognized that pain is the gateway to growth and joy. If we choose to push this pain away, we choose to forego our opportunity for growth.

Feeling pain in loss of love

Many people experience periods of expansive growth when they have come out of a relationship. The end of a relationship marks a period of grieving. You grieve the loss of a person that was once a consistent presence in your life. One of the most common “buttons” people press to quickly escape pain and avoid grief is by entering into a new relationship.

Serial daters are those people that seem to jump into a new relationship before the other one is even over. These people are often terrified of experiencing pain, solitude, and loss. A downfall of this tactic is that the person fails to grow on their own and often carries over issues from their past relationship into their current relationship

Glennon Doyle: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life

Glennon Doyle joined Oprah for a Super Soul Conversation and discussed her opinion on life, death, and rebirth in love. She believes that love exists to change you and make you better.

We aren’t given love so we have it forever. We are given love so that it changes us. So that we grow. Things have to die for new life.

Love are like plants. The annual plant blooms for a season then the winter season takes it out. Perennial plant blooms, is taken out by winter, and then blooms again. This is what love is like.

That’s what loves are. Some loves are just meant for a season and they aren’t going to bloom again. But what happens with that kind of love is that it goes back into the soil to create richer, newer soil for the next love to bloom.

It’s not that it was wasted. No love is wasted and love never fails. Whether your love is an annual or a perennial, the result of both are new life. – Glennon Doyle

Addiction and numbing pain

One of the most common forms of numbing pain is addiction. When something painful happens, picking up a bottles or zoning out on drugs is an easy short-term fix. People feel as if they can escape their head and enter into a pain-free space. The problem with this coping mechanism is soon life becomes too painful to experience at its rawest form; reality.

In addition to amplifying life’s pain sober, addiction trades short-term relief for long-term consequences. When someone is deep enough in their addiction they will literally sacrifice their life for the numbing agent they seek. Soon this way of escaping life becomes more important than life itself.

Craving constant stimulation

Another modern day form of numbing is the constant contact with technology. Technology-addiction plays a similar role as classic drug or alcohol addiction. If you feel uncomfortable standing alone in a public place, what do you do? You take out your phone and aimlessly scroll, text, or call.

It is becoming increasingly hard to be alone with ourselves and exceedingly easy to escape reality. Think about concerts where people care more about getting the right angle on their Snapchat story than taking in the experience with their own senses.

Technology has become an extension of ourselves, and when misused, can extend us a distance from our inner peace, solitude, and contentment.

Reaching for numbing agents

Eating for comfort, not eating for control, over-exercising, obsessive scrolling, unexplained compulsions, workaholics, alcoholics, drug addicts, shopaholics, gamblers, and the list goes on.

Seeking something outside of ourselves to calm our inner turmoil, or at least distract us from it are buttons we press to avoid pain.

These habits and lifestyles draw us further away from our higher selves and higher purpose. They disconnect us from our selves and from each other.

The real solution to pain

Why do 12-step programs work? They force people to not only connect with each other in a deeper and more authentic way, they also encourage participating members to become introspective. They require meditation, they require inventory of self attributes, and they require spiritual redemption.

Meditation and solitude with self is one of the only paths to abandoning toxic habits. Sitting with yourself, no matter what emotion or state you’re in, allows you to build strength. You can deal with reality. You can feel pain without suffering. You can remain steady and balanced in crashing waves of crisis.

Meditating with yourself and pausing should be the natural reaction to periods of extreme change or anguish. Instead of escaping the pain, enter it fully and let it transport you to unbelievable growth.

Today’s Practice:

Do not escape pain or uncomfortable situations. When you jump out of your pain by picking up your go-to numbing agent you are like a caterpillar jumping out of the cocoon. Sit with your pain and allow discomfort to wash over you. Feel your strength build with every moment you practice this.