It is quite natural: when something's painful, we want to look away.
After all, we have been programmed by evolution to avoid what feels bad and chase what feels good.
And yet, we all reach a point when we cannot sweep our pain under the rug anymore.
The ungrieved losses we carry within us fester in our shadow - the subconscious part we'd rather not look at - and drive our behaviour, keeping us from being fully who we are.
Sometimes, it takes a traumatic event, such as an illness, for our inner wisdom to get a chance to grab our attention and get us to confront our pain.
But it doesn't have to be that way: through the practice of mindfulness and self-compassion, we can gently invite the pain that lives below the line of conscious awareness, and let it guide us to the places that need our attention and care.
This is what radical acceptance is all about: taking the courageous step of looking towards the pain rather than away from it; understanding that it is not a stranger in our inner landscape - that it belongs. It does not mean we have to like what is causing us pain, but rather that we can allow ourselves to stop resisting it and choose to learn from it instead.
It is not easy, but it is deeply liberating.
I wrote the poem below on a day when the pain of childhood trauma emerged vigorously in the body and the mind. On that day, I chose to allow pain to be my teacher; as always, it guided me to greater self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and inner wholeness.
I hope it inspires you to embark, or continue, on your own journey of mindfulness, self-compassion and personal growth. Reach out if you'd like support and guidance.
Today, I am grieving
Today, I am grieving.
I am grieving the unconditional love my inner child didn’t get
The affirming words I didn’t hear
The healthy body I couldn’t develop
The confidence I couldn’t build
Today, I will let the sorrow emerge
This time, I won’t try to keep it together
I will, instead, treat my pain like an honoured guest.
“Thank you, welcome.
Please tell me about you.
Help me transform.
Help me soften and be more loving.
Help me shine the light of awareness
On the wounds that have festered in darkness for too long
And bring loving medicine to them.
Help me melt like bricks of ice in the sun
The walls of conditioning
That keep me from inhabiting the entirety of who I am.
Help me melt the walls of trauma
That keep me from realizing my belonging in the world.
Show me the way of honesty and truth.
Teach me how to stand tall,
Arms reaching towards the sky,
Not because I have suppressed you, my pain,
But because I have made you fully mine.
Help me harvest the sweet fruit of inner wholeness,
Sown amidst tears of shame and self-hatred.
Travel through me,
Rip through me;
I promise not to resist.
Let me serve you,
And I will be whole.”