Pain avoidance is very powerful! You get immediate relief. Unfortunately, if you aren't willing to feel and experience pain, then you won't be able to feel fully alive either. You end up living a small life - working the same, boring job, dragging yourself out of bed everyday, needing more and more coffee to get through your day, and feeling depressed with low energy. You choose to stay in the comfort zone, which in the moment feels great. But later, when you realize you are living small, you create 'stories' in your mind that choosing to stay in the comfort zone is the right one. "That person doesn't deserve my attention anyways." "The audience is only there because they were made to attend and they wouldn't really listen." "My life is just fine how it is."
- Step into purpose
A few of us are able to walk toward pain and push through it without seemingly any trouble. But, most of us aren't able to do this. What is different between these two groups of people? Purpose. The first group understands that they have choice in each moment. And their choice will either move them closer to their goal or away from their goal. This is where responsibility and awareness of our moment-to-moment choices become very important.
- Realize pain is your friend
The trick is to BEFRIEND pain and not be afraid of it. Pain actually MINIMIZES when you befriend it. I know, this sounds crazy. When you step toward pain, it gets smaller, and when you step away, it gets bigger. Think of getting into a swimming pool. You can go in bit by bit while your body acclimates or you can just jump in (while yelling out "Cannonball!"). The duration of the pain when you just jump in will be much shorter than the gradual bit-by-bit method. We think we are avoiding pain by the bit-by-bit method, but we aren't. We are just prolonging it.
- Move forward
- Awareness: Be aware when you are avoiding doing something. Are they the same activities? Is the pain you are avoiding the same type (rejection of you, etc.)? Is your mind creating a story around the avoidance in order to justify it? What are the patterns you notice? What choices are you making (and not making)? Are you choosing something addictive instead (comfort food, alcohol, shopping, distractions on your smartphone, drugs, etc.)? These addictions tend to pop up when we are avoiding pain because we not only want to avoid pain, but we want the opposite in its place--pleasure!
- Adjust: Change your perspective on pain. Up until now, pain was 'bad' or something to be avoided at all costs. Now, choose to see pain as something 'good.' Pain is now your bridge or gateway to freedom and possibilities. Tell yourself that you can handle it. You are strong enough. Stepping into this new "I can handle pain" attitude will enable you to be truly free and powerful.
- Action: Now, go and walk directly toward the action you are avoiding. Don't listen to the mind chatter, just MOVE. Set up accountability with a life coach or trusted friend for support. After you do the action, share with this person how it felt before and during. AND how you feel now after completing the action. How will this new "I can handle it" attitude on pain help you to move forward? You aren't stopping here, right?