Transforming Pain

by Yen Uy


[photo credits] Photo by Sofia Alejandra on Pexels

Have you ever had a painful life experience that you wish you never went through?  Is there something in your past that you wish you could erase? Most of us will answer “yes” to that question. Now, think about is: How did that life experience change you?

When we go through something painful in our lives, it changes us, whether we are aware of it or not. And because we don’t have absolute control over our life experiences, it is important that we know how to transform our pain. If we let our pain linger unprocessed, we might just find ourselves living in the past, making decisions based on what was. And if we keep making decisions this way, eventually our world will contract.

Think of it like when you keep looking back until you develop a crick or even a stiff neck. All the focus on the past causes us pain when we should be looking and moving forward.

Despite our painful experiences, life goes on and we need to keep going. When we keep going, we live in such a way that life continues to expand for us. I acknowledge that this is hard. This is why we need to learn to transform our pain.

What I mean by transforming pain is allowing it to do its work – to let it show us what we need to see, to learn from it, and to make a change towards personal growth. When we succeed at this, we increase our competency at living life. Our capacity increases, enabling us to effectively handle the things that are yet to come our way.

How do we transform our pain? It’s not complicated, really. Here are a few things that you can do.

  • Allow pain into your life. When pain comes, it comes for a reason. We all would rather get on with it, but you need to give yourself the downtime you need to truly feel your feelings. When we deny its existence, we might feel good in the short-term. But eventually, the aftermath will sneak up on us-- usually in ways we don’t even realize.
  • Process the pain. This is the when we find the strength to get up and find the help we need. Reflect on your experience. What did the experience reveal about you to yourself? What did you learn about yourself? This involves serious reflection work, so find the courage to talk to someone who can set up the safe space that you need to do this. We always think that we can do it on our own, but experiencing support is a big part of the transformation process.
  • Position your mindset for growth. After a painful experience, have you ever uttered the words, “from now on, I will never …..”? Rethink that. When you create a list of the things that you will never do, you define limits for yourself. This is why it’s important to identify meaningful lessons: we move forward by learning, not with limitations.

Life is hard and we each have our own version of this difficulty. Honor your own experiences in life: both the good and the not-so-good ones. Life will always present us with opportunities to change, to grow, and to become the next best version of ourselves. Sometimes, we just need help in recognizing each opportunity.