The goal of your life is not to avoid pain or attempt to prevent it. It is to learn how to feel it fully and completely, and still be able to say and know “I’m ok.”
In order to do that, we have to define what pain is and why it is painful. Whether someone is mindlessly criticizing us, mistakenly putting blame on us, intentionally hurting us, or monumentally betraying us … the pain of all of these situations is rooted in the same thing: The fear that we are not worthy of love.
This idea has been communicated to each and every one of us… many times and by many different people. Our parents disappoint us, criticize us, punish us, belittle us, abuse us, etc; Our friends betray us, ignore us, abandon us, fail us, etc; and our significant others are ugly to us, lie to us, manipulate us and hurt us. And, while they have their own personal reasons for doing such things, we have to understand that our reaction to them is our own … and that it, very rarely, has anything to do with their reason for doing it.
There are always two conversations happening when someone wrongs us: 1. About the actual wrongness of what that person has done, and
2. About what it means to you.
The reason that a complete stranger has the ability to hurt us is because, in a very subconscious way, their actions validate our internal fear that we are not worthy of love. More simply put, we believe them. However quiet that belief may be, there is a part of us that fears that what this person is saying about us, whether in word or action, is a true depiction of our worth (or worthlessness). When we feel that pang of sadness (or anger), whether it’s for a moment or it sits with us, what we are really feeling is fear. ”This person would not treat me this way if I were deserving of love. That must mean that I’m not.”
It may feel silly to think about things this way. We don’t like to acknowledge that we do, no matter how subconsciously it may be, because, ultimately, it IS silly. We are deserving of love, despite how other people treat us. But, from a very young age, we are taught that love is a good thing that you either receive or don’t receive and, because of that, we began to equate our lack or gains with whether or not we deserved it.
Feeling unworthy of love is the basis of human ugliness. It’s what causes us to abuse power, wealth and control. It’s what causes us to be mean, selfish or cold. And it’s what causes us to fear or abuse the very thing that we need most in our lives: human connection. But once we understand the places in our life where we are believing or fearing that we don’t deserve love, we are able to address them and remind ourselves of what’s true, and live a life where our desires are no longer based in need … and where our fears are no longer based on a lie.
Pain will always be in our life. We will always be susceptible to broken hearts, hurt feelings and moments of devastation because it does hurt when someone wrongs us, it does hurt when we lose a person we love and it does hurt when a relationship ends. But. When we live our lives in fear of these moments, to the point that we run from them or avoid them all-together, we are in fact affirming to ourselves that we are not deserving of love. (When we avoid change or trying something new, it’s because there is a part of us that’s saying, “I can’t do that.”) But, when we stop to remember that we are and when we insist on believing it, we begin to press into the people and places that we once were afraid of, because we know that, should it hurt us down the line, we will be ok because nothing can threaten our definitive worth.
We can’t be afraid to hurt because that means we are afraid to live. Life is too beautiful to be feared and we are too strong to be hiding from it. You will be ok. You will be hurt, you will be wronged, you may be betrayed, you may be abandoned … but, you will be ok. Feeling pain is hard, but it should never be the end of you. And it should never be a reason to miss out on the most beautiful parts of life. This means that, when it arises, accept it. Feel it. Hurt, cry, mourn, question, and cry some more. To avoid feeling your pain, is to believe that you can not handle it. But you can, because you know that, ultimately, it is a pain that will only last for a time and that, the strength that does reside in you, will be what allows you to endure and recover.
Pain is important. It gives us the opportunity to analyze ourselves and to understand what hurts us and, more importantly, why it hurts us. Pay attention to your triggers. Pay attention to what hurts you and, when it does, begin the work of whittling it down to it’s inevitable place in fear. What were you afraid of when that person insulted you? When that person left you? When they told you they didn’t love you anymore or that you weren’t enough? Usually, our fear is that we believe they are right. If someone came to you and said, “Your hair is brown”, when really it’s blonde … you would, at best, be amused and at worst, be unaffected. But when someone comes to you and says, “I don’t love you,” it hurts us because we believe that we are not worthy of love … even though that statement is just as ridiculous and false, as a mis-categorization of hair color.
So, if you haven’t been, begin pushing into life and, more importantly, into people. And if you have been, and pain has resulted, don’t let it define your future or what you know to be true, which is that you are as perfect as you should be and that, if someone doesn’t see or think that, it has nothing to do with the independently existent fact that you are.
Your worth is inherent, not deserved or worked for.