April 5, 2017

Please Share Your Pain

Imagine gathering all your family members and friends in an auditorium. Now imagine standing before all these people and telling them the most painful and scary things going on in your life right now in full detail.

After hearing about the depths of your suffering, how much better would they know you- the real you?

For most of us I suspect the answer is “a lot better”.

Sharing my pain with others has always been a challenge for me. Sure, I have honed the essential skill of giving presence to my own emotions, but when it comes to allowing others to see my negative emotions, I most often will freeze, deflect and suppress, thinking thoughts like:

“My stuff is too much for them to handle.”

“They wouldn’t understand what I’m going through.”

“It’s way too embarrassing to admit to this.”

“I’ll tell them about it once I’m better”

Do any of these rationalizations for not opening up to others about your pain sound familiar?


Our darkness is real and part of us whether we acknowledge it or not. And so it is fair to say that we truly cannot know another person unless we witness both the light and dark within them.

But it goes beyond knowing one another. It’s by introducing presence to our pain that we heal, move forward, and find peace. It’s by denying and disowning our pain that it festers in our being, manifesting in addiction, fear, anxiety and illness. It is crucial that we strike a healthy balance between embracing our own pain and also allowing others to validate our fear, shame, anger and sadness. Here I am speaking to those of you carrying great burdens that are unknown to even those close to you.

People who can’t bring themselves to seek out presence from others weren’t always this way. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen an infant hold back from screaming at the top of their lungs to get their parents’ attention because they didn’t want to impose on them. Our childhood experiences, especially traumas, have profound effects on our view of ourselves and ideas about love, self-worth and connection. The disempowering beliefs we pick up continue to simmer subconsciously and will trigger us to act out in endlessly unhealthy ways, including feeling too unworthy, apathetic or fearful to accept the presence of another human.

I’m here to tell you that the resistance you feel around receiving presence from others is okay.  However, I invite you to ponder that the things we are most scared of others seeing about us are also the things we most deeply desire for them to see. So I’m challenging you to self-lovingly take steps in the direction of finding ways to be more vulnerable and express your pain to safe and supportive individuals.

The truth is that many people will jump at the opportunity to be there for you when emotions run high. And if a so-called friend can’t handle your true self and true feelings, why would you even want to be close to them anyway? If you don’t feel like you have the support around you, find a therapist who will mindfully listen to you without trying to “fix” anything.

Now imagine if all the people you gathered in that auditorium lovingly validated and embraced every bit of your pain. How would it feel to be truly known and accepted for who you really are? Maybe you would feel this as love, wholeness, relief or peace; whatever it is, it’s worth going after.

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