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Category: Personal Development

Stop Avoiding Pain

Don't avoid pain.

I recently had a realization. For the past ten or so years I have been really working on improving myself. I have a tendency to be anxious and depressed. I would question why I felt this way even when I seemingly had everything a person could want. I had my health, family, a good job, a house, working vehicles. I made enough money that I didn’t have to decide which bill I was going to let go past due each month. But I still couldn’t help from feeling like a failure. I constantly felt like I just needed one more thing and my life would really start. Maybe that next job would make me happy. Maybe getting married, having kids, or finishing my bachelor degree would do it. I have done hypnotherapy, float tanks, medication, meditation, read self-help books, exercised, did yoga, and everything else I could find to try to get rid of this pain I felt inside me. Nothing made it go away until I learned to lean into the pain.

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You Don’t Need to Fight Anxiety

Your eyes pop open. It’s the middle of the night and you can’t get back to sleep. Visions of the next day go racing through your mind. You’re worried your new boss will find out you don’t know what you’re doing. You’ll be exposed as a fraud. You’ll break down in tears in a meeting and everyone will think you’re nuts. Maybe your thoughts even take you as far as you running naked through the streets in a fugue state where you end up in a mental hospital. You do some deep breathing or try to meditate, but you just can’t focus. Your mind won’t stop racing. You’re on the verge of tears and you feel like the world is caving in on you. You feel lost. Every sensation becomes a major problem. Is that pain your appendix? The tightness in your chest is surely a heart attack right? You start trying your positive thinking exercises. “No, this is just anxiety, you’ve been through it 1000 times before.” But for each positive thought your brain is ready to serve up an example of a time you were incompetent. “remember the time you completely forgot the question in the job interview immediately after you started speaking so you just rambled for 30 seconds about nonsense?” or “remember in the meeting when you meant to say profits and you said crossfit?” You start to imagine every possible situation and expound on these minor embarrassments until you are paralyzed. You’re not sure if your mind is going to snap and you’ll never be the same again or if it will ever end. What can you do?

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