When it rains, it pours.
I’ve been thinking about this saying a lot today.
The meaning behind it?
When something good or bad occurs, it usually occurs more than once and often within a short period of time. (Thanks Dictionary.com!)
I’ve been “under the weather” since this weekend.
I’m typically fairly optimistic when I don’t feel well, but this time has been different.
Today especially, I’ve totally been spinning in the world of the hopeless. Ha!
I feel worse today than I did yesterday.
I have no idea when this is going to end.
I’m totally in survival mode.
My house is a disaster.
I can barely function.
And, I’ve started to notice my brain focusing more and more on the negative.
How I’ve had to cancel 7 coaching calls in the past 3 days. (It’s the first time I’ve ever had to cancel any coaching calls.)
How my plan to go to bed early was foiled last night because it took me upwards of two hours to get baby to bed. And then, right after I feel asleep, he was up again and I was in and out of sleep feeding him, desperately trying to get him to go to bed so I could just sleep.
How one of my other kids seems to have come down with croup in the past 24 hours.
How I just don’t feel like doing anything at all.
How unfair it is that a mom can’t just have a day off when she is sick.
And it has me thinking about this saying, “When it rains, it pours.” Because, my brain very much wants to believe this. That one “bad thing” happened and now all these other less than ideal things are happening.
But, it wouldn’t be true.
Things happen, but my experience of them depends on where I focus my thinking.
I’m totally focusing on all the things that are happening that I think are less than ideal. Which creates that “when it rains, it pours” experience. Cause all of a sudden my brain is on high alert for everything else that isn’t “working” and wanting to make sure I notice. And not only notice, but dramatize the heck out if it.
So my work today has been allowing myself just to feel terrible.
The goal of thought work isn’t to be happy all the time.
Life is 50/50.
The goal of thought work is to raise our awareness around how WE are creating our own experience, with our thoughts.
There is real physical pain and discomfort. Like the pressure in my head, the swaying sensation when I’m walking, feeling nauseous at times, vomiting at times, lack of appetite, how my body may sweat if I stand too long, ringing in my ears, physical tiredness, etc.
And then, there is also emotional pain. That is, the pain that comes from our thoughts about our physical pain.
Did you know we can make physical pain better or worse by how we choose to think about it?
One of my coaches, Brooke Castillo, has said, “Pain is required. Suffering is optional.”
“…there’s our pain and then there’s thoughts about our pain, and then there’s the thoughts that cause our pain. So the bottom line is physical pain is made worse by our thinking about it and emotional pain is always caused by our thinking.”
“I want you to think about it this way: the sensation of pain is being triggered in your body and the message is being sent to your brain that there is pain in your body. And emotional pain is when you have a thought that creates pain in the body, so it travels the opposite direction. So there’s the sensation of pain that’s letting your brain know that you’re in pain and then there’s the thought of pain that travels through that – what they call the limbic system that creates the pain for us.” Brooke Castillo (The Life Coach School Podcast #239)
We add suffering to pain when we think about pain in a way that doesn’t serve us.
I have for sure been adding suffering to physical pain today. But, rather than judging myself for that, I’ve sought to be curious.
So curious how my brain wants to focus on how terrible I feel and over dramatize everything that is happening in my life right now.
I’m doing what I can to eliminate the cause of my physical pain and discomfort. For me, this includes giving myself lots of time to do tasks I decide to do, lying down as much as possible, and giving myself a lot of grace in terms of how I entertain my boys. It also means finding others to help me out when I can.
Then, on top of this, is the work of accepting the physical pain, rather than resisting it. As humans, we seem to default to resistance, thinking that pushing it away or avoiding it will somehow help. But, the opposite is usually true. In my experience, resistance actually makes the pain worse, and doesn’t allow it to process through my body.
I notice myself in resistance when I’m in a general energy of…
This shouldn’t be happening.
I should be over this by now.
This is taking too long.
I don’t want to feel this way anymore.
I can’t do this.
“If you think about the Model, the physical pain that we’re experiencing, the sensation of pain would be in our C line, and then we’re going to have a thought about that physical pain that is either going to make us feel a negative emotion on top of the physical pain or it’ll make us feel something neutral, or it’ll make us feel something positive that will help us negate the pain.” Brooke Castillo (The Life Coach School Podcast #239)
So, what does it look like to accept physical pain?
For me, this is actively noticing my thoughts about my pain and then practicing managing my mind around that.
This should be happening, because it is.
I’m in pain, and that’s okay.
I feel terrible, and that’s okay.
I’m sick, and that’s okay.
I can handle it. I am handling it.
I won’t feel sick forever.
And then as often as I notice myself tightening up and resisting it, I seek to open up to it and notice what is happening in my body – sort of relaxing into it, breathing into it, and just noticing the physical sensations that are there.
It still doesn’t feel good. But actively accepting the pain actually feels better than resisting it. Just trying to be present with the pain without needing to change it or fix it or make it feel better can be so powerful.
“…one of the conversations that I’ve had with myself is this: I’ll say,’If I will be in pain either way, my choice of what to do now is mine alone.’ I can choose to complain, I can choose to rail against, I can choose to resist, and those are all valid choices. But what I have found is that it’s important to pay attention to what my choice is and then to notice how it affects the pain. Notice what happens when I avoid it, notice what happens when I medicate it, notice what happens when I resist it, and notice what happens when I accept it.“
“And I want to offer this: when I practice accepting pain and being present with pain before I ever try and change it, I get better at processing pain. I don’t want to get better at being in pain and then always being in pain, but I want to get better at processing and digesting pain so I’m not constantly resisting it and making it worse. I can accept pain. I can accept that I’m in pain right now and that’s okay. This won’t harm me permanently. This is temporary. This is emotional pain. Or this is physical pain. And then breathe. I can handle pain. It’s okay.”
“And when we can do this on all levels, I’ve practiced this when I’m fasting and I do it with hunger, I’ve practiced this when I’m working out, I’ve practiced this when I’m holding a pose in yoga. I’ve practiced this when someone’s telling me something that feels super painful. I’ve practiced just being in the space of experiencing pain in my brain and knowing that I won’t be harmed by it.”
“The harm from pain is what we do with it emotionally. How we turn it against ourselves in thinking negative thoughts about it and feeling like we can’t escape and that it’s harming us and that we’re in danger. We breathe in, it’s okay, we’re going to be fine.” Brooke Castillo (The Life Coach School Podcast #239)
We can make peace with pain.
Pain is required. Suffering is optional.
Is there any pain in your life you’d like to make peace with?
P.S. If you’d like to explore this topic more, I invite you to check out Brooke Castillo’s podcast on Accepting Pain. Find it at https://thelifecoachschool.com/podcast/238/ . #AMAZING