The Importance of Pain + How It Can Work for You

I had an interesting experience not too long ago. My friend is shooting a music video and asked me if I wanted to be in it. I said yes, of course. Different natural phenomena occur to the woman (myself) in the video such as floating or walking on water. Now it’s the end of November in Canada when we’re filming this, and I’m apparently going to be walking on water. Here’s a shot from our day.

The Importance of Pain and How to Make It Work in Your BenefitPhoto by Shannon Harke

We headed down to the lake, and while it was a sunny day, I assure you it was certainly not a warm one. There were three of us who had to wade into the water, and I stayed in the longest. My feet went numb from the cold, and overall it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I slipped around on the slimy rocks as I came out, toweled off, put my shoes back on, and that was that.

Until I got home.

When I got changed out of my wet clothes and began to thaw out at home, I noticed a cut on my foot. Then I realized there was a dark bruise forming around it. I saw another handful of bruises scattered across my foot. A huge lump on the outer arch. Swelling around the metatarsals. I didn’t understand how this had happened; I hadn’t felt any of it.

I doctored myself up as best I could with bandages and arnica salve, but I was limped around for days afterward. In fact, that cut only just recently finished healing, and I’ve got a scar as evidence. This demonstrated to me the importance of pain.

Pain is a protective signal.

It tells us to stop or slow down. It causes us to become present, more aware of our circumstance, and search for a solution. I lost the ability to receive that signal when my feet when numb, and it cost me. If I had known that I was bashing up my feet, I would’ve stopped. I would’ve at least been a lot more careful in my steps. I could have asked for help. This is true for physical pain, such as my feet, but it also applies to emotional pain. We typically live our lives actively avoiding pain of any kind. When it does occur, and it will, it’s helpful to have a mindset which acknowledges the practical job pain fulfills.

When pain wells up, emotionally or physically, allow it to guide your actions with intention. Click To Tweet

When the hurt wells up, emotionally or physically, allow it to guide your actions with intention. Here’s how it can work to your benefit.

1. Stop what you’re doing and focus on the present with an open awareness of your situation.

2. Take steps to improve the situation.
-ask for help from friends, family, coworkers, mentors, or a professional
-learn from someone else’s experience
-alter what you’re doing

3. If the situation is out of your control or cannot change at present, implement healthy coping strategies.
meditation techniques
-physical activity
-creative outlets

4. Healing takes time, so be patient and compassionate with yourself.

Pain is difficult and unpleasant; that’s why we avoid it. The importance of pain, however, is that it serves a functional purpose for us. I briefly experienced what it was like to have no pain, and I was in no better of a situation. Pain alerts us to an issue and encourages action to solve it. Use the above steps to allow pain to work to your benefit.

What insights or changes have you experienced because of pain?

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Also, I’m going to be broadcasting again on Periscope today – January 19th at 5 pm PST! I will be going through and demonstrating how to make my natural yoga mat cleaner. Find me by searching Heartful Habits. If you can’t make it for the live stream, the video will be available for 24 hours afterwards. I hope to see you on Periscope!

The Importance of Pain and How It Can Work in Your Benefit

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12 Comment

  1. Reply
    January 19, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    This is an excellent post Grace. <3

    1. Reply
      January 19, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks! 🙂

  2. Reply
    Julie @ HappinessSavouredHot
    January 20, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    I agree with you that pain, and even discomfort, often are a signal that we ought to pay attention to. There are, however, some exceptions, as in chronic pain. Chronic pain is meaningless. Being aware, finding ways to improve the situation and strategies for coping is useful, but in many cases, healing never really happens. It will teach you some things, but despair is never really far either. Those who suffer know.

    1. Reply
      January 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      That’s a good point, thanks for bringing it up. You’re right. I haven’t had personal experience with chronic pain, but I can imagine that would be a very hard issue to deal with.

  3. Reply
    January 23, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Wow, I cannot thank you enough for posting this. Sitting on my couch healing from a standard procedure of removing wisdom teeth, I am reminded of all I take for granted. I am far more familiar with mental pain than I am physical, but they all come down to holding on to how lucky we all are for what we have, and what we can learn for our future experiences. I loved this so much I even re-posted it to my “hustle” Facebook – it was just too good not to share! Thanks again.

    1. Reply
      January 23, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      I’m so glad this resonated with you. I appreciate you sharing your experience and insight as well. I love how succinctly you put it on your Facebook page – the things that hurt us, teach us. Thank you for the share! I hope you’re feeling better from your wisdom teeth quickly.

  4. Reply
    Vicky Warren
    January 24, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you for this post! I like the part about being compassionate with ourselves. It seems like we are so busy now days that we don’t give ourselves the benefit of time often. And we often try to push ahead too soon. Great read!

    1. Reply
      January 24, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      That’s so true about people constantly rushing ahead these days. We want everything instant, but that’s rarely the healthiest or most effective way.

  5. Reply
    Missy@My Shitty Kitchen
    January 25, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Thanks for this post! One of my goals for 2016 is to become more mindful and present and it is a good reminder that bot emotional and physical pain have a purpose in that!

    1. Reply
      January 25, 2016 at 11:07 am

      Mindfulness is a great goal to have for the year. It’s something I am constantly working on as well.

  6. Reply
    Kim Cunningham
    January 30, 2016 at 8:37 am

    When you look at the purpose of pain it really changes your perspective.

    1. Reply
      January 30, 2016 at 11:16 am

      Definitely. Much of the attitude of our lives is our own perspective and interpretations which we do have some control over.

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