And not distract yourself from them.
When something is removed from your life, its value to you increases. You miss it. Its absence hurts. This is true even when it’s your own decision to remove that something.
It’s human nature to feel like this. You’re hot-wired not to like change, to view it as a threat. This is why it’s so hard to make changes that last.
It’s also human nature to do everything possible not to feel this hurt.
Such is your dislike of hurting — of feeling pain — that you do anything you can to avoid it. You can’t avoid it by preventing it from happening — so much pain is beyond your control. But you do have something very effective up your sleeve.
Distraction is an amazing way not to feel pain. And it’s never been a better time to find ways of distracting yourself. Social media, busyness, gaming, alcohol, drugs, shopping, food, Netflix. It’s distraction nirvana out there.
Distractions are interesting things. In one sense, they don’t matter to us at all, because they’re meaningless — and replaceable — time fillers. In another, they matter to us enormously, because they enable our pain-avoidance habit.
I guess it’s the process of distracting that matters to us, not the actual distractions themselves.
But, here’s the thing. What we’re distracting ourselves from matters even more. We humans are supposed to feel pain. It’s part of our humanness. So distracting ourselves from pain is a problem.
It’s a problem in two ways. First, the pain doesn’t go away when we distract ourselves from it. It gets buried. Deep. Second, you cannot distract yourself from one emotion — pain — and not others — joy, love, happiness. When you numb one, you numb them all.
I learned this the hard way.
When I was young, I became a master of distraction. I’d use whatever I could to distract myself from feelings I couldn’t deal with. I used physical distractions, like having TV and radio playing in the background. And I used mental ones, like escapism, busyness, perfectionism and being in control.
My distraction skills enabled me to handle whatever was thrown at me. I stayed responsible, dependable and productive at all times. In myself, I was neither low, nor high. I was ‘fine’.
I remained ‘fine’ until one day in my 40s, when everything fell apart. No distraction in the world could take my attention away from the deep pain I felt. It wasn’t as though I wanted to feel the pain — I didn’t. It was more that my body had no nowhere left to bury it. The pain came bursting out from every cell. The recent pain overload I’d experienced had pushed me over the edge.
I was forced, kicking and screaming, to sit with the pain. It came up from my recent past, and my distant past. It was so intense that I stopped cycling and driving for a few weeks — I knew it wasn’t safe to do so.
After working through the worst of it, a few things happened. I felt a lightness I’d never sensed before. I felt real joy for the first time in my life. And I vowed never to distract myself from my emotions again.
My pain taught me a lot. About me. About life.
About what’s NOT important in life — what doesn’t matter:
- Busyness doesn’t matter.
- Living in the past doesn’t matter.
- Perfection doesn’t matter.
- Possessions don’t matter.
- Being right doesn’t matter.
- Distracting yourself doesn’t matter.
- Faking it doesn’t matter.
- Bingeing doesn’t matter.
- Living in the future doesn’t matter
- Status doesn’t matter.
- Being in control doesn’t matter.
- Pretence doesn’t matter.
- Hierarchy doesn’t matter.
Best of all, my pain taught me about what IS important in life. About the things that really do matter:
- Feeling pain matters.
- Feeling love matters.
- Meaningful relationships matter.
- Feeling joy matters.
- Well-being matters.
- Acceptance matters.
- Feeling alive matters.
- Giving freely matters.
- Compassion matters.
- Being healthy matters.
- Forgiveness matters.
- Living in the moment matters.
- Feeling happiness matters.
- Being loving matters.
- Receiving graciously matters.
- Letting go matters.
- Community matters.
- Being joyful matters.
- Being authentic matters.
- Being open matters.
- Being respectful matters.
- Wisdom matters.
You know what matters most of all? Putting everything you’ve got into what matters.
That’s how you honour what matters. That’s how you show your love. Because living, sentient beings are behind everything that matters.
And you and they deserve your best love.
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Sarah Blick is Well-Being Wizard and Life Coach at Aging Disgracefully Well. Sarah has the rare combination of unparalleled life experience and serious business expertise. She spent 28 years as a game-changer in senior marketing roles internationally, including a couple working directly with Richard Branson at Virgin, and four as a life transformer in coaching and mentoring roles. Alongside her successful career, Sarah relentlessly pursued another passion: understanding why, despite having everything, she felt as though something was missing from her life. This pursuit led her to experience more life changes than most people experience in three lifetimes, many of them very challenging. By the time she found what was missing, Sarah had completely transformed her life and lifestyle. Today, she is fit, healthy, happy and fulfilled — and aging disgracefully well. Her successful career and personal transformation have helped her develop what she considers to be three of her superpowers: exceptional courage, uncommon resilience, fearless action-taking. These now sit alongside her instinctive qualities of compassion, leadership, and tenacity, to enable her to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
She works with exceptional people who have everything in life… except for the meaning they crave. They know they’ve been settling, not living fully, but don’t know how to change that. She helps them access what they need to make this change, and prepares them to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
In her personalized signature programme, Your Lifestyle Rehab™, Sarah gives her clients what they need to overhaul their lifestyle. To enable them to start living fully — as their best self, and making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Your Lifestyle Rehab™ is designed with her best self — the expertise she developed in her high-level business career and the life lessons she learned in her 30-year quest for a life with meaning — PLUS the latest thinking from the fields of neuroscience, aging and psychology. This powerful combination is capable of delivering transformative results, leaving her clients ready for the life they’ve only dreamed of until now. And that’s what aging disgracefully well is all about. To schedule an exploratory chat, contact Sarah today.
Originally published at medium.com