A friend sent me an article the other day which impacted me very much. It was one of those restorative moments when the perfect thing comes your way. The author of the article is Kelly Brogan, a psychiatrist who specialises in women’s health. She speaks of how difficult it is to sit with emotional pain, to just be with it, and let it pass through. To sit with it, instead of reacting to it with distraction, trying to fix it or numb it with alcohol, drugs, food, exercise, work or whatever else we do, to not feel it’s intensity.
I thought of it as like an electrical storm within the soul that we can all experience: the rolling thunder, the flashes of lightning, the torrential rain, the fierce winds. My emotional pain can feel like that! I want to distract from it, make it better, talk about it, run, walk, discharge it in some way.
Kelly advocates for me “to sit with the pain and let it be my teacher”. To be still and allow it to pass.
She makes the valid point that we don’t even know it’s an option to “consciously suffer”.
In our western culture, we are continually invited to go for goals of happiness and success in all kinds of ways. No wonder we feel so isolated and alone when we are beset by the emotional storms within. It is not easy to find a safe place or safe people to talk with, about what we struggle with. This surely keeps me in a job as a psychotherapist, but what a sad reflection this is on our society.
Kelly says, “When I sit with pain, I know that it is transforming me inside. It is refining and reconfiguring and upgrading all that needs to be. What emerges will be closer to the truth, more resilient, and more real. Even if I don’t like it at first, this pain doesn’t need to be understood or narrated. It just needs to do its work with consciousness holding space for it”.
I am going to try to practice this more often in my own life. How about you?
Ref: kellybroganmd.com in honour of fear and pain