I’ve written before about the importance of running towards healing, instead of away from pain. Pain in itself can be a great source of growth and healing, if we let it.
Of course, I am well aware that that’s much easier said than done.
No one wants to hurt or be hurt. No one wants to stay in a situation that is causing them pain.
There is, however, a significant difference between staying in a situation as long as necessary to learn the lesson and wallowing in a bad situation.
A few weeks ago I found myself facing the latter.
I’d had a series of challenging, emotional days. I could feel myself spiraling, making up stories about my enemies, getting more and more worked up over the situation.
Usually, I don’t recognize this pattern until it’s too late – I’m irreconcilably angry and my whole day has been ruined. But that didn’t happen this time.
I didn’t want to wallow in my anger, didn’t want to spend any more energy on negative thoughts or situations than absolutely necessary. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to effectively distract myself, so I turned to something that always can – friends.
A dear friend of mine lives just a few minutes from me and has two of the cutest little girls you’ve ever met. Without even thinking about it, I got into the car and joined them at the park around the corner from their house.
This didn’t make everything instantly go away.
The first few minutes were spent hugging and crying. Yet somehow, my problems didn’t seem as big and scary as they had a few hours ago. Soon I became engrossed in playing with and holding the kids, kissing their heads, and talking to my friend about mundane, non-emotional topics.
The key to using hurt as a medium of personal growth is that you have to actually learn from it. You have to be able to see the problem and take steps to change it the next time. I’d been able to see from experience that being alone when I’m angry is a bad idea, so I made the effort to change my environment instead of letting myself spiral.
I wasn’t avoiding pain so much as pursuing healing, intentionally putting myself in a healthier place and frame of mind.
I was able to reclaim, even enjoy, the rest of my day. And I’m so very grateful to have that story to tell, that memory to reflect upon, now.
What sorts of situations have you found yourself in again and again that always seem to end badly? What can you learn from those situations? How can you change the narrative the next time you find yourself in that situation?