We all go through things in life that cause us great pain. Heartache, loss, disappointment. No human is immune. It is a part of life.
When you are in the depths of disappointment and pain, it can be hard to see how you could possibly come out the other side. The idea that you might one day be grateful for you deep hurt seems unthinkable.
Yet, we always have a choice. Even in our pain, we have a choice to make. We get to decide whether we will take the opportunity and grow, or whether we will let it consume us.
I by no means intend to make this sound simple; it may be the hardest thing you will ever do. But your pain may also be the thing that pushes you towards your greatest personal breakthroughs.
It is our hurt that can crack us open and let the light in. It is our pain that can help us move towards living a more deeply fulfilling life.
There is a psychological idea known as Post-Traumatic Growth. We are all familiar with its cousin, post-traumatic stress, but post-traumatic growth isn’t discussed as frequently. It acknowledges that many of us take our pain and use it as the energy to grow psychologically.
“Posttraumatic growth is not about returning to the same life as it was previously experienced before a period of traumatic suffering; but rather it is about undergoing significant ‘life-changing’ psychological shifts in thinking and relating to the world, that contribute to a personal process of change, that is deeply meaningful.” (Tedeshi & Calhoun, 2004).
Here are 3 things you can do to help you channel your deep pain into an opportunity for your greatest growth:
1. Explore Your Feelings
You may choose journaling, therapy or coaching – but you need to find some way to really explore and understand your feelings. You must really understand your emotions, but to do so, you have to be willing to feel them. To be able to understand why you hurt, you have to dig deep into where the pain stems from.
It is easy to say you are hurt because of heartbreak, but what part of the heartbreak is really causing you the pain? Is it that you feel like a failure? That you are grieving for a future that no longer exists? Or that you don’t feel worthy of love?
Express your emotions and work through them until you can find their root cause.
Truly understanding yourself, and looking within, is a prerequisite to deeper psychological growth.
2. Look for the Lesson
In order to grow from a painful experience, you need to focus your mind on looking for the lesson. This is one way of choosing to have a growth-mindset.
There comes a point where you have to take back your power and move away from the hurt and wallowing in the pain. Once you have identified the root cause of your pain, you need to start looking to what you can learn from it. This will give you back a sense of control and help you focus on the positive.
I believe that no matter what the situation, you will be able to uncover a lesson if you look hard enough. If you have been faced with an illness, perhaps it can teach you what you need to prioritize in life. If you are recovering from heartbreak, perhaps it can highlight your need to respect yourself more, so that you are not prone to letting other people disrespect you.
There will be a lesson in your pain if you take the time for self-reflection and really want to learn it.
3. Resolve to Change
Once you can acknowledge what your current situation might have to teach you, you need to resolve to change. Real positive growth must be followed by action. You have to do things differently. This is where your pain can truly turn into your greatest power.
Again, it may be useful to have a coach to help you work through how you need to develop, or the actions steps may make themselves clear to you.
It may be that you re-prioritize how you live your life so that the things that really matter to you play a bigger part. Or you may resolve to focus on truly deep-down loving yourself before you begin to look for another romantic partner. Your actions will always be so personal to you.
Real growth comes from a willingness to change. You have to be willing to do things differently and let your pain be the thing that leads you on your path to growth.
You can turn your pain into power if you are willing to work out where the pain stems from, recognize there is a lesson to be learned, and turn your new knowledge into action.
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Hi. I’m Kate Snowise. I’m a Life Coach and host of the Here to Thrive Podcast. I help people get clear on what they want, need and crave, and then helps them take the steps to move towards that.
I believe life is about more than surviving and being good enough. Each of us truly has the ability to thrive and live a beautiful, aligned life where we remember and connect with our authentic selves. I have an MSc in Psychology (the positive kind that concentrates on what is right with you). To read more about my signature coaching program The Thriving Life Project