How to Embrace Painful Parts of the Past
Life is full of pain, pleasure, failure and success.
It is a journey through the deepest of valleys and the tallest mountains. It’s each of these places that makes the journey so rewarding, so fruitful, so freeing. To overcome things we never thought we could and in turn grow as a human being is a reward grander than we expect. Although we may wish that life would fit into the mold we hope for, it never does. It’s full of surprises. Some good, some bad.
As human beings, we are driven by two feelings - pain and pleasure. Our subconscious is always thinking “Is this going to hurt me? Is it going to make me happy? How can I protect myself, essentially?” Unfortunately, pain is a direct reflection of experiencing true humanity. To open one’s heart to love, to be vulnerable, to be kind, all risk experiencing pain.
But the presence of pain means one has opened up their heart - to love, to vulnerability
How brave is it to express love and affection for another person? What an act of faith to take the next step in digging deeper in one’s friendship with another? How beautiful to allow one’s heart to be fully exposed, risking injury, risking pain, and all at the same time having hope for the reward and beauty of vulnerability?
When we expose our hearts to pain, we are taking part in a brave act of faith. We are choosing to place a higher emphasis on the possibility of reciprocal relationship while also risking complete denial. It’s brave. It displays strength and beauty. It is something absolutely extraordinary.
What happens, though, when we experience pain?
Pain often births regret. Our subconscious begins to produce thoughts like “If I never opened up, if I never chose to be vulnerable, this would’ve never happened. I could’ve prevented this. I wish I didn’t do that.” We begin to analyze the past, our decisions, our actions, and how we could have changed the end result in order to prevent pain. We deny every beautiful moment, every lesson learned, every triumph all for the one undeniable factor: pain.
Pain can cause us to create a barrier around our heart, bitterness, denial, depression, and more. Or it can be the fuel we use to learn, grow, expand and create room for a new experience. Whether we admit it or not, life isn’t complete without an open, vulnerable heart. Without it, we can’t experience deep friendship, true love and a full life. This means that we have to constantly risk pain to experience life to the fullest. It’s a scary thought, but totally worth it.
So, if pain is an undeniable factor that we will experience throughout our lifetime, how do we learn to experience pain in a healthy way? How can we learn to embrace the painful parts of our past rather than regret them? Here’s a few steps I like to take…
1 | Acknowledge your bravery and strength in the vulnerability you displayed in order to experience the pain.
To experience pain means that you have opened your heart. You chose vulnerability. Which essentially means that you chose bravery. You chose hope. You chose faith. We can’t prevent pain, and when we accept this fact, the normality of experiencing this feeling, we can process our emotions more healthily, fully and honestly.
2 | Use the pain you have experienced to learn, grow and expand as a human being.
Rather than beating yourself up, living in regret, and harboring bitterness, acknowledge the lesson learned or the growth experienced. Pain is a wonderful teacher if we allow it to be. Was the pain present as a result of lacking boundaries or trusting someone who didn’t reciprocate your effort? Whatever the cause may be, unless the pain was caused by an uncontrollable factor (such as a family member passing), analyze the root. Evaluate what you can do different next time.
3 | After we have acknowledged the pain, we have to look up, stand tall, and bravely open our hearts again.
Regret is a waste of our precious time… because the truth is that we can’t go back in time. We can’t change the choices we made, the actions we took, or the things we said. And even if we could, that may or may not change anything. The pain we experience is real and it demands to be felt. Don't deny the pain you feel. Sit with the emotions and process them. But don’t allow that pain to rule your life - your future relationship with others or yourself.
Life is too short to live in regret or to be closed off to new opportunity.
Choose bravery once again and open your heart. The past molded and shaped you to the person that you are today. So, you owe your pain something. Every feeling counts. Every moment of pain counts. Embrace the pain of the past in order to create opportunity for your future.
What’s one way that you embrace or overcome a painful experience? Share your advice in the comment section below! Also, click here to get a free download of a sneak peek into the first volume of The Authentic Woman and get 20% off when you purchase the book!