A Lesson On Pain & Joy

Looks like 'joy' might be the theme 'round here this week! We touched on some ways to cultivate joy and make it a daily priority, and I wanted to hone in on one thing: giving yourself permission to feel joy. I'm taking a page out of my own book and sharing a lesson I've recently learned...

The back storyyears ago, I suffered from a pulmonary embolism - multiple blood clots had formed in both of my lungs. The pain was crippling and it was weeks before doctors figured it out. My life could have easily been taken away, and in many ways, it’s a miracle that it wasn't.

Since then, the pain would pop up every now and again. At times, landing me back in the emerg, tears streaming down my face, searching for answers. Test after test after test, there wasn’t any. The doctors hadn’t a clue as to why I was in such great pain. With time, I learned to accept that this unexplainable pain was a fact of my life now. These ‘episodes’ were random - at times the pain would happen frequently, other times I’d go months without feeling a thing.

Over the past few weeks, this pain has been coming up again for me. A sharp stab in my chest, a dull ache in my heart. There’s been moments when I’d grab my chest, wincing in pain or hours, feeling my heart tighten and contract.

Modern medicine only brought up more questions than answers (not to mention a bout of frustration) and I booked a session with a kinesologist, who taught me a tapping technique that would ease the pain - and it worked. Each time the pain would come up, I’d tap and the pain would disappear.

I'd tap-tap-tap, and I became acutely aware of how often I would feel this way. Tapping wasn’t the be-all-end-all solution that would ‘cure’ me indefinitely - it was a band-aid. Instead of allowing frustration or fear to wash over me, curiosity pulled me closer.

I heard a question rise up from my belly: What if I started looking at my pain in a different light? 

You know when people talk about lightbulb moments? The big A-HA realization? This one was of them.

What if, instead of accepting pain as a fact of life, I explored what it might mean? What if it’s not random? What if my body is actually trying to tell me something? Most of all: what if this is a sign that my body is blocking off the flow of positive energy in my life? What could it be preventing? What am I not opening myself up to?

I noticed that whenever the pain arose, my energy shifted with it.

I’d grab my chest, trying to remember to breathe deeply and think, “What is wrong with me? Why is this happening to me?” I was assuming the victim role. Mornings when I’d wake up feeling energized and inspired, and out of nowhere, the tug at my chest. Immediately, thoughts would flash through my mind, “Something is wrong here. I can’t focus like this, I should probably just take it easy and rest.” I allowing this feeling to take control and prevent me from diving into my own creativity.

Until, one day, I heard a voice inside me that said, “Something else is going on here.”

I meditated on it. What came up, clear as day, was that it wasn’t a sign to stop, it was a sign to keep going. That feeling in my heart just pain because of some unfortunate event from my past, it was resistance.

My body was resisting the expansion of joy.

My body was resisting exploring creativity.

My body was resisting deepening the connection with myself.

It had reached it’s limit.

Coming face to face with resistance might not feel like physical pain, but emotional, as we manifest feelings of doubt, worry, anxiety, and even depression.

The moments when you're experiencing unbridled joy and you escape the moment, pondering all the different ways it could be better. When we distinguish our joy. When we dampen our successes. When we compare ourselves to others. Future trip. Doubt. Shrink. Self-sabotage.

Instead, shine a light on your shadow side...

What am I resisting right now? What's the fear behind my resistance? What story am I playing out?

How can I crack my heart riiight open? How can I expand? How can I step beyond my limits? How can I break the rules and push the envelope? 

Call yourself out. Look through a different lens. Dare to rebel. Bust down barriers and smash through fear.

What happens next? You begin to expand your capacity for love and joy. Witness your own brilliance. You become a beacon of light - and radiate that energy back out into the world.

What do you think? Did this resonate with you? I'd love for you to share your own experiences + insight and take this conversation deeper in the comments x

Image via Shells on the beach, edited by me.

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