Follow your pain, especially if it hurts!

Say what?

Yes, it’s true and by the end of the article, I think you’ll agree.

Ever since we were little, we were told to run away from pain.  It’s a natural reaction.  If you touch a burning pot with your hand, you immediately take your hand off the pot.


But our survival mechanism or knee jerk reaction, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t work with our mind or our emotions.

Because when we run from our pain, our pain just keep on following us.  It’s like a shadow lurking in the darkness, always following us wherever we go.

When I was little, my dad and I used to get in these intense fights.  We were both very stubborn and often found ourselves in little screaming matches.  I remember one time, when I was about 5 or 6, he threw chopsticks on the ground because he was so angry and I ran upstairs and hunkered down in my room crying.  I was very angry at him as well and did not want to talk to him.

Although our fight was intense and it stayed with me all these years, if asked, I would not be able to tell you what our fight was all about.  I have no clue.  Try as I might, I just don’t remember the specifics.  All I remember are the emotions I felt and the scene with the chopsticks.  Everything else is a blur.

I bring this scene up because it shaped who I am today, whether I like it or not.  My parents loved me and I loved them.  I always knew that.  But these bursts of anger (from both sides as I’m part blame for my temper and sharp tongue), affected how I felt about myself and even how I felt about my parents.  It also shaped future relationships.

Because of these moments, I believed I was not worthy of love.  I was not good enough.  I always felt like I had to be the perfect little girl or else my dad and I would end up in a fight.

I never spoke about my fights to anyone, even my friends.  I suppressed all my pain by digging a deep hole in my heart and covering it up.  No one knew the real me because I buried it deep inside of me to.  I lost my voice.  You can even ask my friends from junior high and high school.  They would tell you that I barely spoke and was extremely shy.

I didn’t want to get to close to anyone for fear of being hurt.  So I kept everyone an arms distance away.

This was the way I survived.  My knee jerk reaction to touching an open flame was not to even come close to the flame itself, no matter how unassuming it looked.

Years later, as a young adult, I started to do some work on myself.  No, it wasn’t plastic surgery.

I started to take self help courses and worked with healers, hoping to improve my life.  I wondered why I wasn’t in a relationship.  I wondered why I acted the way I did – a little closed off from people.  I wondered why it wasn’t easy for me to express myself freely.

As I did more and more work on myself, I realized that I was still deeply affected by my childhood.  My parents and I never really talked about the fights, aka the screaming matches.  We just brushed it aside hoping it would disappear.  I actually thought it did disappear.  But like a shadow, it was always by my side, always in the background.

I never dealt with my own pain because I thought it would be better to move on and forget about it.  I wanted to stay strong.  I pretended everything was ok.  Besides, burying the pain was a lot easier than dealing with it, so I thought.

The self help courses I took opened up and exposed my old wounds and I didn’t like it.  I wanted to run away.  I did run away.  The minute I started crying when I was brought back to that point in my childhood, I’d immediately stop crying and try to repress my feelings and emotions – re-digging the hole.

But the more I dug, the more I felt sorrow.  Outwardly I’d be bubbly, but internally, I was not.

After trying to find the answer to heal my pain, I finally realized that I was at it the wrong way.  Instead of running away from pain, I needed to run towards it with open arms.

You see, I never really dealt with my feelings and emotions around my childhood.  I never dealt with the pain head on.  The feelings, emotions, and pain – all the baggage – stayed with me.

It’s like if you have a deep cut and instead of trying to heal it, you decide it would be better off left alone.  So you go about your life with this deep cut.  You don’t notice it anymore, but it’s still there.  Slowly, the cut becomes more and more infected.

Emotional pain stays with us. Un-resloved pain stays with us.  It is not until you resolve the issues that real healing can begin.

To fully heal, I had to go back to those emotional times to release the pain from my mind and my body.

So you may be wondering how I did this.  Here are the steps I took to release the pent up emotion and how you can release your pain:

  1. Go back to that place.  I mean emotionally really go back to the place you felt the pain.  We have to un-repress our feelings and emotions and bring it back to the surface.  Have a box of tissues ready in case you cry.  I totally wailed like a baby!
  2. From that place, give your emotional self a voice.  Let your emotions speak.  Be raw and real.  Write it down or say it out loud.  This is a chance to voice your emotions so you can be free.
  3. Now as an outsider, acknowledge your emotions and feelings.  We all want to be heard so really tell your emotional self you hear him/her loud and clear.  You can say something like, “I acknowledge and feel the pain you felt.”
  4. Release the pain and emotion.  Once you acknowledge your emotional self’s voice, let him/her know everything will be ok.  Release the need to hold on to that emotion.  You can even use a saying like, “I release the need to hold on to this emotion in my life and the hereafter.” A weight will be lifted off your shoulders because you were able to deal with your pain head on.

Another tactic I found particularly helpful is separating fact and fiction.

Fact is the actual events that took place and fiction is what I made up about the events that took place.  For my case, the fact was my dad and I got into a heated argument over something.  The fiction was that I made up that I had to be perfect and a good girl in order to earn his love – that my self worth was tied to his reaction.  The truth is, I determine my worth.  Until I could separate the two, I was stuck.

So now when something comes up that I’m emotional about, I run towards the pain.  Because I know it’s better to heal it now than to wait.

I invite you to embrace your pain as well.

Now that we’ve reached the end of the article, do you agree or disagree about following your pain? Tell me why.  I’d love to have a discussion.

Disclaimer: In no way am I talking about going back to an abusive or violent relationship. Never go back physically to the person who was abusive or violent to you and seek a trained professional to help you.  Also, this is not meant to serve or replace medical treatment.  If you believe you need further help, please seek a qualified medical professional.

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About the JOY Coach

Minling Chuang

Minling is the founder of {the JOY depot} and is on a mission to help new entrepreneurs start their dream business. She spent many years working on branding strategies for top brands like Lean Cuisine & Nestle Toll House and launching multimillion dollar products. Now Minling's passion is to help people create profitable businesses they love! She is also a Kundalini Yoga teacher in Venice, CA. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. And if you want to start your own business, book a clarity session with Minling.

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