Pain and Power: an unexpected relationship

Where there is pain, there is also power.

Sometimes it takes extreme pain for us to begin to pay attention to our bodies and their messages.  However, when the decision is made to engage with pain and the process that unfolds, power emerges.  And it is there, that place where the most pain lies, that the most power also resides.

I can speak from my own experience and from observing the experiences of my clients.  Pain draws attention to places within our body, mind, and spirit which need care and love.  It is from looking at these places, exploring the intricacies and depth, that power emerges.  There is something to be said about even the act of observing pain that evokes a sense of power.  Or perhaps courage.  In her book, Daring Greatly, author and researcher Brene Brown writes about the connection between suffering and courage.  She writes that as human beings, we are hardwired for suffering.  This means that our brains, nervous systems, and bodies are designed to suffer and to survive.  We are designed to be resilient beings.  Now, in my experience, this is where the power lies.  Let me illustrate it this way… Imagine the feeling of waiting to give a big presentation, or the thoughts that race through your mind before a conversation that you think may lead to conflict.  The anticipation of the experience.  What is there for you in the anticipation or waiting period?  For me, I often find my stomach feeling unsettled and my mind wants to run through every possible scenario.  My breathing may get shallow.  I just want to get the “thing” over with!

Strength does not come after one climbs the ladder or the mountain, nor after one “makes it” — whatever that “it” represents.  Strengthening oneself is essential to the process of striving — especially before and during — as well as after.

-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This quote from Women who Run with the Wolves reminds me that the process is “it”.  And during this process, strength is required and found.  If I sit with my anticipation, my unsettled stomach, my racing thoughts — I often find that there are other things happening in that moment.  For me, it is often a sense of spaciousness or the opportunity to ground my energy and breathe more deeply.  And this is powerful because I come to know in my core that I can be with anything and survive.