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Article updated 2018

Have you ever thought, ‘If I can avoid feeling pain, why shouldn’t I?’

Or even thought , ‘Why feel pain if you don’t have to?’

You don’t have to, really. It is our personal choice. In fact, we as humans naturally have a drive to prefer comfort over pain. Most of us in the world spend our lives striving for comfort – physical and emotional comfort, rather than anything more or less.

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That’s a great thing, we need periods of comfort in our lives… however, when we become fearless to pain, and perhaps even surrender to it, our lives become just a little more infinite.

Pain serves us in a way that nothing else could.

Disclaimer: if you are frustrated by people who bemoan their pain and problems and act like ‘woe is me’ – I get you.

Those people is not what this article is about. And our annoyance at those people can make us out of balance and out of touch with the people who share pain openly, without trying to be an attention suck.

There’s a difference between these two types of people.

Whilst there are severe pains in our lives that really don’t go away, but instead, possibly get less intense over time (like losing a child, or a parent), there are many reasons why I believe pain is necessary to be felt.

Here are some 10 reasons to choose to feel your pain and share your pain.

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1. Feeling our pain makes us alive.

Anything we do to dull the pain dulls our sensitivity to sensations and then dulls the pleasure on the other side after feeling the pain, too. Ever heard John Mellencamp’s ‘Hurts so Good’?

Yeah. Surrender to your pain and cry and hurt, and somewhere on the other side, even if months later, your body feels good. There’s no choice. The alternative is living like a robot.

I am not certain of the exact scientific mechanism behind this, but I know that our bodies are always trying to keep ourselves to an equilibrium. I know that when we genuinely feel our own pain, at some point, pleasure sets in. It’s physiological.

I’m no scientist… so I can’t offer you a complete peer reviewed research into this, but I say all of this because I have seen so many women vouch for doing so. And of course, I’ve seen and felt the impermanence of pain. When we feel it, it eventually lessens and we get the reward of greater sensitivity to pleasure simply because we were open to pain.

2. Avoidance of pain leads to mediocrity

Because if we don’t let ourselves be open to feeling pain or fear or terror, what we are doing is choosing mediocrity. Mediocrity to me is a constant search for comfort. Comfort is good…but it comes at a big price. A price we usually may not realise we have paid until it is too late.

Think of it like this. You make a new friend whom you really like. And as happens in all good friendships, somewhere down the line, a conflict comes up. And for fear of the discomfort of the risk of losing that new friend, you avoid thinking about and considering how to deal with it and instead you pretend it’s not there.

Of course, what we resist persists…so the underlying conflict comes up again.

Until one day, we’ve spent so long avoiding the discomfort that the friendship is ruined altogether.

What could the alternative have been? Well there could have been a few courses of action depending on your actual circumstance.

One alternative could be considering how to approach the kink in the friendship whilst honouring your feelings as well as your friend’s feelings. And it might have been difficult to go through…but instead of going for comfort and the safety of not opening yourself up to the risk of losing your friend…you get the opportunity to build a deeper connection and stronger friendship and loyalty (leading to an infinite life over a comfortable life).

I’m just saying…the potential outcome is more ecstatic than the mediocrity that comes with avoiding discomfort.

3. Pain brings out your femininity.

Feeling and sharing our pain – it brings out your feminine energy. What do you think about travelling out in to the ocean on a little boat and saying to the ocean; ‘hey dear, stay calm, like you were yesterday? Have you ever tried? No, the ocean doesn’t listen. And neither should you if your feelings are strong enough, they’re strong because they’re demanding to be honoured as a part of who you are, and they demand to be felt.

What we resist, persists. Ever felt like if you started crying, you’d never stop? I think we all know what that feels like…

That happens when we avoid the pain of crying and opening to emotion for too long. It comes out disproportionate to the current situation.

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No matter how calm, the ocean always changes its mood. No matter how unforgiving, ruthless and destructive its waves are, the ocean always calms.

This is feminine energy. It’s how it’s meant to be. If we deny our biological changes in feeling in our belly and our chest…it hurts. And we store up so much emotion that by the time we express it, it comes out as abuse to the nearest unsuspecting person, unfortunately – it’s usually the ones we love. Because they are the safest.

4. Surrendering to pain helps you de-stress.

For example: Crying helps to keep you healthy. (Who would have thought?!)

So there you go. Your body is telling you all by itself to feel authentically. Because it needs you to.

5. Pain helps you do the thing that matters – which is emotional growth.

When we try to show we are doing well by thinking positive – to avoid people hating us (or to avoid losing friends) for having pain, we keep the world as it is (status quo). We don’t grow as a person. Growth comes when we have the courage to not endure – endure implies that we suppressed it. But FEEL the pain, be fully alive and receptive to the pain.

And this is a daily practice to be open to pain at various moments in the day, and not to lie to ourselves.

6. Avoiding pain makes us boring.

Because habitually not feeling pain makes us boring.

Those cheery people that you know? The ones who you are fond of but can’t call on when something is upsetting you? Because they feel it’s wrong to acknowledge their own pain – so how can they deal with yours?

They make having trusting, lasting friendships difficult because there’s nothing to relate to; they’ve blocked out all that makes them human.

7. Avoiding pain causes distrust.

Because pushing our pains down and making them wrong makes others feel like they can’t trust us nor be close to us.

This is really simple. If we judge ourselves for having vulnerability (feeling our pain), then we judge it in others because we perceive it as something bad. By judging this in ourselves and others, we are already pushing them away, being less open and acting less like a trustable ‘friend’. This tension will be felt. If someone openly shares a part of themselves and feels like it is being rejected by us, then we run the risk of them not feeling comfortable with us in the future.

When we are more connected to our pain, then it builds trust. Eg; if you tell me everything GOOD about your life, but you won’t share your let downs and your hurts and pains, then I can’t fully trust you. Because you’re not risking anything.

So it’s like this: ‘If you aren’t willing to risk me judging you, if you don’t risk me hating you, if you don’t risk us experiencing relational conflict, I can’t FULLY trust you. I might trust you a little intellectually. But not on a gut level.’

Trust isn’t intellectual. It’s very much felt in our bodies, and sometimes it’s simply a gut level feeling, isn’t it? Tell me if it isn’t true for you.

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8. Sharing pain creates deep bonds.

Because sharing our pain and feeling it openly (without doing it just to hoard attention) creates deeper, stronger and more lasting bonds.

How are strong and close bonds created?

Hint: not in the good times. They are created in the bad times. This article reviews a study that shows that people who were strangers initially began to get closer when they shared vulnerable, not necessarily cheery information with one another. These participants asked each other questions such as ‘when was the last time you cried in front of someone else?’

The participants in a study were contrasted with others who shared ONLY ‘surface’ and ‘factual’ information with one another such as their favourite holiday or TV show. Check out the study if you want. 

9. You become more courageous by feeling your pain.

Because feeling our pain is a courageous thing to do, and you can congratulate yourself for allowing yourself to be open rather than closed like so many others out there. It’s a good thing, and it’s something you should be proud of yourself for. Courage is a label I feel we all would like to identify ourselves with.

10. Pain helps us become one with the world.

Feeling pain, our own, and other people’s pain makes us more connected to other humans.

Disconnection from pain means disconnection from humans, animals…the earth – whatever you want to be connected with in your heart.

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What do you think is the BIGGEST benefit from feeling your pain? Do you regret not feeling your pain more? 

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Carin
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Carin

What if your partner can’t deal with you sharing pain? If I am intensely upset or angry and cry, for instance, my man can’t cope with it. He becomes cold, detached, can’t look me in the eyes, and wants to flee. His voice even becomes monotone and he cuts all connection with me. He gets his keys and runs away. It terrifies me as I don’t understand why the sudden change of state in him, where my caring man has gone, where he is going or what he is going to do, and I am left uncomforted, confused and in… Read more »

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

I was wondering this too. While I’m not experiencing the same situation as Carin my guy has a hard time being around me when I’m hurting. One time he tried holding me when I was crying and I felt so safe in his arms I started crying even harder (I know it might seem like a weird paradox or something to other people but it makes sense for me if you knew my back story). I explained this but he’s gone back to withdrawing from me when I cry. I’m just wanting to know if there is something I’m not… Read more »

Ana
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Ana

Hi Renee,

I am in the same situation as both Carin and Elizabeth. During those times where i do get emotional and things bother me my boyfriend tends to get even more upset or backs away. He too says that he cant see me hurt and cry but its a constant battle. Things are great between us but once in a while we go through an emotional rut. Can you please give me some insight on how to handle this better.

SpaceGirl
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SpaceGirl

I think the biggest reason that your partner backs away when you’re showing unhappiness is that it makes him feel like he is failing to keep you happy. I read in the comments section on another article here, that men are deathly afraid of not making their partners happy. He internalises your crying as a failure on his part, even if your sadness has nothing to do with him. Maybe if you let him know how much it would comfort and soothe you to have him with you, holding you and being there for you as you experience your pain,… Read more »

Philippa
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Philippa

Agree on the childbirth comments above it’s an issue dear to my heart. Renee is there a link on your page about coaching? I’d love to see hear from anyone here who’s experienced renee coaching. From what I can tell it’s expensive but if it really works I’d be prepared to go ahead what’s causing me conflict is in your articles renee I experience you as warm and smart but asking about coaching I basically got an email saying you’re very busy, I could click on a ticket to apply (which would mean restating my request again because your secretary… Read more »

Alesha
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Alesha

I understand this. I’ve really gotten into Renee’s emails and I was wondering how I could have a conversation with her, not necessarily as a consultation, but just to send her an email or something. Like you, I’ve read that she’s very busy, and that one-on-one consultation costs a great deal. However, it’s unfortunate that I can’t easily find a way to contact her, simply for the purposes of letting her know how helpful her advice has been in helping me understand myself. I wish it was a lot easier to get in touch, even if it took a while… Read more »

Ruth
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Ruth

My boyfriend is feeling pain at the moment. He hates his job, feels as though he has failed in life and is getting very depressed and anxious. He has said some things that scare me such as not wanting to ‘carry on’ but assured me he wouldn’t harm himself. Renee, how can I help him? Any tidbit will do, I am at my wit’s end.

Yogimama
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Yogimama

Renee, This article makes me think of another type of pain women avoid– the pain of natural childbirth! It’s so accepted, even encouraged in the United States to ‘just get the epidural’ or schedule a C-Section. I understand under certain circumstances these approaches are warranted. However, I feel women miss out on a tremendous opportunity to feel their feminine power in its ultimate expression-bringing a little person into the world! This, of course, being built up around the fear that pain during childbirth is ‘bad’ from family members, friends and society in general. I have 4 children including a set… Read more »

Mariam
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Mariam

Renee, thank you so much for this article. You made me feel better 🙂

Joan
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Joan

The greatest benefit to feeling pain? It brings out the feminine energy. Who are we without it. Eventually the sun will shine again, we just have to trust that.

Thank you for such a great article. I’ve been going through a lot lately and this has made me feel normal.

Kat
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Kat

Renee, thank you for the wondeeful articles! i am pretty sensitive, as a child i was even oversensitive… I had always assossiated this vulnerability with that dreadful behaviour when we try to take somwthing out of the others.. and thus put them off. So in.my head vulne4able is equal to being alone and even lonely… but as u talk about growth through pain, i believe there is a way out of this, a way when we reallyfind a partner to share our emotional world in its full span.

Ava
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Ava

Awesome timing with this article, I just finished reading “Brave New World” (I know, I know, I’ve been under a literary rock.)

The two main female characters of that book are possibly the most terrifying, nauseating examples of femininity diluted through avoidance of discomfiture and pain.

Jenny, if you happen to read this, your comparison was spot on. 🙂

Anyway, so happy to see more from you, Renee. 😀 Was super excited when I got the article notification today, I’ve been hanging out for your writing…I ended up finally doing some of my own while I was waiting.:P
Thank you for sharing!

Mina
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Mina

This is a great article, Renee. A lot of it rings true and the link to the psychology today article was a great read. I am currently “in transition” to really, really finding my true emotions and finding ways to express them. As a kid, crying was considered bad and I have a lot of memories of my mom telling me I was being “dramatic” and “crying for no reason”. As a result, I adopted the attitude of NEVER EVER BE VULNERABLE and to never cry. When I got married I thought I could be more true to myself, after… Read more »

Alpha Woman
Guest

I really like the line “what we resist, persists”. There’s a lot of truth to that. In fact, I can personally relate that to various parts of my life. I’ve been guilty of resisting everything from acknowledgement of the obvious to accepting and welcoming my need for love. One thing for certain is that it doesn’t go away. The ‘hole’ just gets bigger, and the need -greater. Thanks, Renee.

Izzy
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Izzy

Thanks alot renee, I always wake u every morning to check whether I have an email from you. I always find it so easy to share how I feel but he doesnt share any of his pain, challenge or anything and I love him so much but I want out. I need ur advise, am in Uganda where it difficult to join your online program but am willing to buy any book that you have.

shellie
Guest

i tried to read all of it then i thought about how much pain i was feeling in the moment and just wanted it to just go away, it really hurts its like a constant reminder of a place of pain, im trying to serve it as a lesson to be more careful, or to make my guy earn me, or that im not giving him me again till i know its safe because its so deeply rooted.

Zelma Garcia
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Zelma Garcia

Yes, this!

And this: http://loveumentary.com/4-things-you-must-do-to-meet-the-love-of-your-life/

And this, too! 🙂 http://loveumentary.com/dont-be-afraid-to-be-the-one-who-loves-the-most/

I’m learning a lot with your newsletters and programs. Next one is Commitment Control when it’s ready. Let me know. Thank you!

Jenny
Guest

I love this post! I heard once that avoiding pain was like letting a callus form over your heart. You can’t feel the pain anymore (because it’s tough), but you also can’t feel any of the good sensations either. Numb.

Zelma Garcia
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Zelma Garcia

Lovely blog…

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