Pain and Suffering: Healing and growing thru acceptance

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Kahlil Gibran

What a powerful statement. We’ve all heard the phrase, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” right? I suppose that is true, but I do not like the negative connotation, because my literal mind interprets that to mean that great suffering is always negative or that some form of death is imminent. Suffering and pain are a natural part of life. Stuff happens. Life happens, and we cannot control that. We can, however, control how we view life and what we make of our experiences. We can accept the lot we are given and not only make the best of it, but move it the direction we want.

If out of suffering emerge the strongest of souls, then perhaps we need to reach deep down to decide how to use the difficult periods in our lives to build our character and emerge from the ashes stronger, more powerful and ready for action. We all have our own story, and if you know me personally or follow this blog, then you know that I’ve had a significant amount of life change in the past couple of years. Much of that change arose from profoundly painful decisions and experiences, but those were necessary in order for me to find my way to where I am now, and to my current path.

I used my pain as the impetus to start my new life. I will not say I have been able to do this with grace and dignity every step of the way, but I do my best every day given the circumstances and the resources I have (energy, emotional intelligence, time, strength.) I believe scars show as reminders of what we have learned, and will fade over time. I also believe, however, that the challenge is to keep the scars from hindering our ability to continue to move, as some scar tissue does after injury or surgery. This is a strong metaphor. If we leave our painful experiences in place and do nothing to massage, stretch or heal the damaged areas, we will eventually lose some of our mobility.

When the physical body sustains an injury or is recovering from surgery, there are three distinct stages of healing: Acute Inflammation, Repair and Remodeling. I compare the emotional and spiritual healing process to the physical, because I believe that the mind, body and spirit are interconnected, and frankly, linking our emotional healing to something tangible like tissue repair can give us hope and focus. The end of a relationship is an excellent example of the need for healing and recovery.

Almost everyone has experienced the loss of a relationship, either by their own choice or by the other person’s choice. It hurts, is often a blow to the ego and emotions, and can take some time to recover.

Stage 1. Acute Inflammation. This is the time immediately following injury. When a relationship ends, there is a period of pain, sometimes experienced as anger, hurt, frustration, sadness or some combination thereof. As with physical injury, this is very normal. The immediate response is pain, swelling, heat and redness. Inflammation is an imperative part of healing because it helps defuse the toxins to allow the healing process to begin. Plainly stated, we have to feel the injury, the pain, swelling of emotions, and discomfort in order to rid our system of the toxins and negativity that would otherwise fester into something far worse and potentially more damaging. As inflammation decreases, the repair process can begin.

Stage 2. Repair. Damaged structures begin the repair process by forming new connective tissues. This is a fragile time when the injury should not be touched. Only gentle stretching, beginning slowly, and gradually building in intensity over time. At this point, the healing process is building toward remodeling, the final stage.

There is always a period of time after a relationship ends when we need to get ourselves right before we “move on” to another relationship. There is no definite timeframe for this, but we all know we need to take the time to heal, work on figuring ourselves out, learning what we need to learn. This is the time when we are most fragile, and as with physical healing, it is recommended that you allow yourself to heal before hitting the ground running again.

Stage 3. Remodeling. This is the time when you need to take a more active role in your healing. Damaged tissues can be “remodeled” thru a series of range of movement exercises. How fantastically symbolic! Once you have experienced the pain of the injury, given yourself time to feel the pain, allowed the inflammation to push the toxins out of your system, gently eased back into life – into a more active role in your recovery – then you can really remodel and reshape your life.

Taking into account the natural healing process, we can treat difficult times as we would an injury or recovery from surgery by taking this attitude: “Here I am, what now? (or, it is what it is, now what?)” We accept that something has happened, and now we need to recover from it. How do we best do this? It seems for the most part that we readily accept a physical injury and the need to heal from it, but emotionally and spiritually, this presents as a larger challenge. If we change one thing, our perspective, and just accept that we need to heal and move forward, we will already begin to grow in the right direction.

“In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

We have the real opportunity to live fully, with deep meaning and fulfillment. We can all get there with acceptance, love and faith. Allow the hard times to help shape the amazing path in front of you. Let yourself feel the pain, let it flow, and then take an active part in your recovery and keep moving forward. As you travel in this amazing journey called life, you will encounter bumps, twists and turns; this is your time to make that jagged path into something beautiful.

Blessings. Gratitude. Love.

About powerstrengthgrace

I lay out my intention for this blog: to share my experiences with others and direct my clients here for their personal growth. I hope to show the reader that one can be mindful without having to go to extremes. Balance and simplicity are key, and I have learned that valuable lesson time and again. About me: First, I am a mother. Secondary, but also very important: entrepreneur, fitness professional, business woman, writer, public speaker. I live in the DC metropolitan area and have created a fulfilling life for myself and my children. My career path has been interesting and varied. I have worked in research & management for a telecoms association, managed health clubs, consulted on housing market development in third world nations, and finally, have become self-employed in corporate wellness and private lifestyle management coaching. I hope that you take something with you every time you visit, and I thank you for sharing with friends, co-workers and family members.
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3 Responses to Pain and Suffering: Healing and growing thru acceptance

  1. Tim Holmes says:

    Hi Tracy,
    This is very relevant and I went through all these changes and emotions without ‘reading the book’ so to speak. I just went with the blows and the flow. A huge period of growth as my whole ‘self’ had been shattered into something alien and to be honest I did not know whom I was for a long time.
    Cool post 🙂

    • Tim,

      Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts. I am blessed to know you and look forward to your fan page and your book. Your courage to share your story is going to change a lot of people’s lives for the best, and I am humbled that you have confided in me and shared your journey. We all go thru difficult times, some far more severe than others, but the beautiful thing is rising from the ashes taking on the new shape we choose, and making the most of every moment in life. You are a miracle and an inspiration and I feel so happy to know you! Have a great day!

  2. Tim Holmes says:

    Hi Tracy,
    Thank you for your kind words. My courage has never waivered since I took that first small step called change.

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