[ Guest Post ] 5 Steps For Turning Your Pain Into Wisdom

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Today I’m excited to share an amazing guest post from my fellow blogging friend, Kate. We did a post swap, and you can check out the post I shared on her blog here. I highly recommend checking out her blog, Holistic Life by Kate, for her words of inspiration, advice and encouragement, you won’t regret it! This is a longer post so settle in or bookmark to read when you have a little more because it’s well worth it. I’ll admit it made me teary in places, then empowered & inspired by the end. An incredible read. Over to Kate…

Your Pain Does Not Define You — But How You Deal with it Does : 5 Steps for Turning Your Pain into Wisdom.

Life itself is incredibly intense and difficult even if we’re not going through a particularly hard time. But let’s face it, there are moments, sometimes hours when life becomes brutally hard and incredibly unforgiving. All of a sudden, you’re being hit by more than one life-changing catastrophe and you feel abused by your own existence. Nothing, absolutely nothing is okay and you have every right to feel confused, overwhelmed, horrified, powerless and completely out of control. In moments like this, you should know that it’s ok to feel that way. Furthermore, I think it’s pretty normal to go a little crazy when you find your life falling apart all at once. Crazy but under control. 

When life becomes incredibly complex it’s normal to have terrible thoughts in your head about not being able to make it. Sometimes the pain is so intense and overwhelming that handling it becomes almost impossible. There are moments in life when your reality seems to be the worst nightmare you could possibly imagine. But regardless of how bad is your situation, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. However, to be able to see that, you need to acknowledge and accept your pain. 

Accept your pain and it will hurt less. Trust me, I know how it sounds. But the truth is when you keep resisting or fighting your true reality you cause more suffering to yourself. And let me tell you something, it’s not what you need when life is tearing you apart. 

What you need in moments like this is to realize that you’re going through a phase that will end. The pain that you feel today will not last forever. That’s exactly what you need to repeat yourself like a mantra. 

Accept your current reality and focus on what you can do in the present moment to make it easier to get through. Accept your pain and it will become “only” a part of your life, not your whole life. Because living a painful life and living with pain are two very different things. The first option, if we can call it that, is living in the mental prison of your own creation, while the second option is accepting that pain is necessary for growth and success.

Your pain does not define but the way you deal with it does. This is how you can turn your pain into wisdom and wounds into strength.  

The Power of Acceptance – Freedom is a State of Mind

“When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

The first thing to realize when your going through a particularly tough time in life is that you have the power of choice. You can choose whether to accept or deny your pain. The first option will help you to focus on the meaning of your life, while the second option will cause more suffering that wasn’t even there. 

It happens because suppressing, rejecting or ignoring problematic emotions only increases their intensity while acknowledging and accepting them can actually help to manage them properly. In other words, if you deny your true reality you create an inner mental prison which is not a nice place to live but if you accept the situation entirely as it is you immediately regain control over your life.   

I realize it’s not easy to accept your struggle but that’s the only possible way you can turn your pain into power and positive growth.  

There is this huge misconception about accepting pain. I’ve noticed that most people mistakenly believe that accepting a painful reality means surrendering or giving up when the exact opposite is true. Because it’s not acceptance but living in denial that makes things worse. Your pain will not go away only because you refuse to acknowledge it, nor it will become more intense because you acknowledge it. 

When life hurts, the last thing you want to do is to accept it. I get it. But at the same time, it’s the only way to make sense of your experience and assign it meaning. Accepting a painful experience take all the pressure off of you and allows you to respond more mindfully. 

 The Power of Choice – Your Reality is of Your Own Creation 

“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”  – Charles R. Swindoll

Did you know that you can control how you respond to things you can’t control? Sounds crazy, right? But what it means is that you have much more control over your life than you think. Because even if you can’t change the situation itself, you can choose to change how you look at it and how you respond to it. Maybe it’s not ideal but still, it’s a great opportunity we all have. 

When my father died from ALS earlier this year I thought that the pain I was experiencing would literally kill me. The first thing that came to my mind after receiving this news was: I am not going to make it.  

I knew right then that the pain I was experiencing could completely break me or make me stronger. I choose the second option. I accepted pain as inevitable but I choose not to suffer. I made a conscious decision to grow from this painful experience even if I didn’t know what that meant at that time. All I knew was that my father’s death would completely change me and I wanted it to be a positive change. You cannot even imagine how desperate I was to find a way to turn this painful experience into positive growth and meaningful change… 

If you’re still wondering why I am telling you this it’s because I want you to know that if you’re going through a particularly tough time right now, don’t give up. You can turn your pain into your power and wounds into your wisdom. You can turn even the worst life experience into something positive. Because even the most desperate situations still procure opportunities to grow. But you need to be mindful to see that. 

The Power of Mind – Your Mindset Determines Your Entire Life

“Suffering begins when you mentally label a situation as bad. That causes an emotional contraction. When you let it be, without naming it, enormous power is available to you. The contraction cuts you off from that power, the power of life itself.”  – Eckhart Tolle

We create meaning. Yet nothing has meaning alone. We create meaning and we bring it to life. Things are just ordinary items and people are just random social beings before we give them a specific meaning. That’s why our interpretations of the seemingly ‘same’ thing are so different.

We perceive the world through our five senses, which by the way deceive us all the time, and then we create stories and narratives to get a better understanding of “what’s going on here”. Then with our ability to think, analyze and reason we create meaning behind these stories to make sense of what we perceive. Nothing has meaning alone, we create meaning to be able to navigate our life. 

What is interesting here, is that this meaning-making process we engage ourselves in serves directly affects our state of mind and personal well-being. This happens because the stories and narratives we make up to describe what we experience can trigger pleasant emotions like joy or happiness or unpleasant feelings like anger, fear or sadness. As pleasant emotions tend to not harm even if they have nothing to do with the real situation (the present moment) the trouble starts when your dramatic storytelling creates negative emotions that cause suffering that wasn’t even there at the beginning. Most of us are unaware of how our storytelling affects our mental state. We create our own reality with our thoughts, words, and emotions. 

We love happiness and hate pain but the truth is life is full of pain and we need to accept this to be able to live a meaningful, fulfilling and happy life. Besides, without sadness, happiness has no meaning. Without pain, life has no meaning because personal growth is always painful and extremely uncomfortable. Painful struggle and unpleasant experience make us who we are. 

They say that in life “Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional”. And I truly believe that. Because pain appears when we have experienced something traumatic but suffering is the fruit of our storytelling. And the truth is that sometimes we suffer unnecessarily because we identify ourselves with our pain instead of accepting it as an essential and inevitable part of life. The painful experience you’re going through is a phase that will end. 

Remember that gold is purified by fire. 

The Power Of Now – All we have is NOW 

“True freedom is living as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment. This inner alignment with the Now is the end of suffering.” – Eckhart Tolle

Going through a particularly hard time and facing a personal tragedy can make you feel lonely and isolated. At times like this, we tend to think that everyone except us has a nice, quiet and happy life. But the truth is that bad things happen to everyone. We all struggle. We all experience horrible moments in life that make us question the sense of our existence. 

Life spares no one. We are all fighting our inner battle. We all struggle. And believe it or not but most of us experience pretty much the same stuff during our lifetime. Sounds crazy but here are some life experiences that everyone ‘must-have’ like having a disease, losing someone we love, having a life-threatening experience, realizing that our lives are completely out of control or even experiencing heartbreak. 

Do you want to know what’s connecting these things? Their common denominator is PAIN. And you know why? Because life without struggle and pain would be an empty and completely meaningless existence with no possibility of growing and evolving as a person. 

Pain is an indicator designed to help you challenge yourself in ways you may not have thought of before. So instead of feeling sorry for yourself, playing a victim card or comparing your pain to someone else’s pain, be mindful. Focus on your experience, stay in the moment, observe your pain without judging it. Let yourself feel your emotions instead of ignoring or suppressing them. You have to feel it to heal it. There are no shortcuts to happiness and success. Besides without pain and sadness, there can be no happiness and pleasure. Because we create meaning and make sense of our experience by comparison and contrast. We search for similarities and differences to discover how people or things are similar and how they are different. We recognize happiness as a “lack of pain” and sorrow as a “lack of joy”. This is the way we make sense of what we experience daily.  

The Power of Letting Go – Change is The Only Constant

Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope. Everything changes, nothing stands still. Every moment you go through in life good or bad, happy or tragic, is just a moment, not a permanent state. Every feeling, emotion, state you experience will pass because the only constant in life is CHANGE. 

Sometimes when something incredibly beautiful happens we try to write everything down or create a mental picture to keep track of time. But when things become hard, overwhelming and almost impossible to deal with we try to avoid painful emotions at all costs denying our true reality. While it’s a normal and understandable reaction to a painful situation, it definitely does not help to manage tough times. 

So what can you do instead? Well, in my opinion, the best thing you can to get through hard times is to realize that you’re going through a phase that will end. The pain that you feel today will not last forever. The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. 

So if you are facing a personal tragedy and your world is falling apart know that it will get better. You will get better. This moment will pass. Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Accept your pain as an inevitable part of life. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling depressed, anxious, terrified or in pain. Don’t fight with your emotions because you will lose. Face your fears. Accept the pain you feel in the moment and it will hurt a little less. And remember that the pain you feel today will not last forever. 

Life is not linear, it’s rather a sine wave with a series of amazing highs and disastrous lows. Everything changes, nothing stands still. Even the hardest moment in life will pass to make space for the most beautiful ones.

Life is the best teacher. Some lessons are more difficult than others but every single one of them is important and much needed. Harder lessons are designed to challenge you and build upon your knowledge. And believe it or not but the most valuable lessons are drowned from the worst circumstances imaginable. When life knocks you down, you can choose to stay hopeless in the dark or rise up and regain control over your life. You can ALWAYS control how you respond to things you can’t control. Never forget about that!

P.S. 

Stay Positive  – Be Mindful and turn your Pain into Wisdom and Wounds into Strength!

xo Kate 

A huge thank you to Kate for such an amazingly inspiring post as part of our blog post swap. Pretty incredible, huh? You can find Kate at Holistic Life by Kate.

Caz  ♥

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24 Comments

  1. Terri
    October 20, 2019 / 6:51 pm

    Can I talk about those hard hitting things that can go along with fibromyalgia and chronic pain/fatigue? How many of us are living our lives very alone, lonely and isolated? After being in the medical field for 22 years, my health started its decline and I quickly gained a list of diagnoses that correlate with fibromyalgia. This included trigeminal neuralgia, sleep apnea, excessive daytime somnolence, GERD, IBS, delayed gastric emptying, hypothyroidism, chronic plantar fasciitis , degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, numerous allergies, migraines and of course, clinical depression and anxiety. All of this within a 6 yr time period, including 2 weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. I was 42, my ex left when I had to file for disability, had a 4yo(adopted from VN), with no income and lost my home, career and security. I am 57 now and my daughter is 19, in her first year of college and drives me bananas. I went thru the many stages of acceptance of my pain and the guilt of never being to be the person I had anticipated I would be. Ninety percent of the time, I’m okay with it,….until I speak to my Mom or my brother ( my only immediate family, besides my daughter). I NEVER feel better after talking to them. I try to keep them at a safe distance(for my health) but that is even used against me. I will never live up to their standards and I’m so very sick of the guilt. Believe me, I have tried to explain to them so many times but they don’t hear me. Even holidays set me back(physically/emotionally) due to their actions. They have talked so much in the circle of extended family and friends that I feel even more isolated. The point I’m making, they don’t respect me and they have never accepted or TRULY tried to understand my health issues. They just think I just don’t try hard enough. I don’t measure up and they are holding back their love from me because I don’t do enough. In Sept. 2018, I passed out in the shower and had a R tibia/fibula and ankle fracture, requiring 2 surgeries and 3 weeks of inpatient rehab. During rehab, my mom would call and ask if I had gotten up and put in any makeup I could barely maneuver from the bed to the wheelchair and she’s worried about my freaking makeup! Oh and the thing that made me pass out was my blood pressure bottoming out. It was 58/34 at one point in the hospital and they said I have dysautonomia and I’m on midodrine now for that.

    I’m not here for pity, you all know that. This is the very first time I have ever even opened up about this in a public forum. I just don’t know how to deal with the isolation, loneliness, despair and purely feeling like the ones who are supposed to love me, are the ones who hurt me, make me symptoms worse, cause me to to isolate more, to feel even lonelier and in even more despair. Yes, I have my daughter. I have committed every ounce of energy that I’ve had and sometimes didn’t, to try and raise a well rounded young lady. These are difficult days but that’s a whole other issue that exacerbates my health. Today my depression is not terrible, but it always gets worse(seasonal) when the clock gets set back one hour and may last till summer. It has gotten to the point of *those thoughts. The times when I was holding it together till my daughter went to bed, so I could let the tears flow. Crying yourself to sleep and waking up because you’re crying. Can’t sleep because the tightness in your chest, so much tension and racing thoughts in your head that it feels like you head is on a ver slow vibrate. Your teeth/jaw hurt from clenching your jaw. Stomach so upset that you wake to pooping on yourself( if you have IBS). How about the taboo subject of going a couple of weeks without showering or sometimes a few days without brushing your/my teeth? Does anyone have the problem where there home is becoming something that is unrecognizable because things are unmanageable and are closing in on them? Overwhelmed? Yes, that’s me. I know people that say they are good people and they help others and refuse to help me with things they know I can’t do on my own. I do have some dignity and pride. I will not ask from someone that will use it as a weapon in the future. I fear the future. I fear the loneliness. I fear despair. I pray my depression never reaches those deep dark pits again. If not for my faith in God, I would not know how to survive. I will stop my rambling. I will take any suggestions or encouragement to heart because I surely put my heart into this. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Bless you!

    • October 23, 2019 / 11:12 am

      Oh Terri, I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through and continue to deal with. “I went thru the many stages of acceptance of my pain and the guilt of never being to be the person I had anticipated I would be” – I can relate, as I’m sure a lot of us with chronic illness will. It’s certainly difficult. It’s beyond sad that your family aren’t supportive and you feel so low after speaking to them. Some people just don’t understand, no matter how much you try to help them to do so, they may also not know how to help you, but that comes out in all the wrong ways as you then feel like they’re ‘holding back their love’ from you. I guess the expression ‘you can’t choose your family’ is quite apt. Many of us will lose a lot of friends through illness, I know I have, and then there are people in our lives that we actually need to remove or assert boundaries because we have enough to contend with without being made to feel all the worse for it. I think your experiences will mean you are well placed to raise your daughter to be understanding, to be filled with love and respect and kindness. Focus on her, and focus on yourself, too. You can only do the best you can, and that’s always got to be good enough. Hugs to you, Terri  ♥ xx

  2. October 20, 2019 / 11:19 pm

    well done, Caz, for posting, & Kate for writing – for a long time, I thought something was wrong with me because ‘positive thinking’ & ‘positive affirmations’ & the like did me more harm than good. eventually, I realized that for me they were like denying reality, which I absolutely love this post! & which is why I deeply admire Caz 🙂

    • October 23, 2019 / 11:18 am

      I’ve felt the same and agree. This is why I think pretty much everything in life will work differently for everyone, and we need to be mindful of that as some seemingly positive things can have the opposite effect. There’s certainly nothing wrong with you! Thank you so much for the kind comment, da-AL, muchos love to you! 🌹 xx

  3. Michelle Tikalsky
    October 21, 2019 / 1:53 am

    Such a beautiful post. Thank you for this reminder. This is something I am trying to learn. I have gone through several difficult times where I thought I would never happiness. Now that I have, there are many times I still can’t accept it. I often feel like I don’t deserve happiness after all the difficult times I have been through. Accepting that I can move on from it and changing how I feel can help me feel happy. It is a hard skill to learn but worth it

    • October 23, 2019 / 11:21 am

      It really is a tough one, and I think that sense of feeling unworthy, of not deserving to be happy, is an incredibly important stumbling block. It’s something it took me a while to realise feeling, too. And of course no matter what anyone else says – even though I obviously would say you absolutely deserve all the happiness you can get – will make a difference until you can feel it for yourself and believe it. Keep working on that acceptance, you deserve to feel and accept the happiness you’ve worked hard for.  ♥ xxxx

  4. October 21, 2019 / 1:26 pm

    Very well written post. Loved this from start to finish and found myself agreeing without throughout. Such a powerful reminder to us all, I think we all can find it hard to first find happiness, and then hold onto it without thinking we don’t deserve it. If that makes sense?

    • October 23, 2019 / 11:23 am

      Absolutely, it’s such a good point and I think a lot of the time we don’t even realise that’s how we feel, that we feel guilty or unworthy of it. I’m glad you loved the post, too, I think Kate did amazingly with it! 😊 xx

  5. October 21, 2019 / 11:28 pm

    This post means a lot to me, and it’s a lot to think about. I like the idea that even though everything seems out of control, I can control how I react. Very good post.

    • October 23, 2019 / 11:33 am

      I’m glad you liked Kate’s post, too. It’s certainly very thought-provoking and I do think trying to see another perspective where control is concerned is so important, it’s empowering to get back a little control over our lives in ways we may not have realised before. Thanks for the comment lovely xx

  6. October 22, 2019 / 12:04 pm

    Such an honest, thoughtful and positive post, thank you for sharing! Kate sounds like such a strong and inspirational person, I really enjoyed reading these words of wisdom. I especially agree that our mindset determines how we feel about a situation and we can use negative experiences as a way to grow and get stronger. This is such a good attitude to have and helps you feel more capable to deal with whatever life throws at you. Thank you for sharing Caz, hope you have a lovely week! <3 xx

    Bexa

    • October 23, 2019 / 12:20 pm

      Aww this is such a kind comment, I hope Kate is reading this! I totally agree with that attitude and mindset point; our thoughts and perspective can be be useful and empowering when we realise we have more control over things we may not have realised before. Thanks for the comment – Hope your week’s going well lovely  ♥ xx

  7. October 22, 2019 / 2:19 pm

    Great uplifting ,comforting and wonderful post .Loved reading this and how well the turning pain into Wisdom and Wounds into Strength is explained .Wonderful read.

    • October 23, 2019 / 12:27 pm

      She definitely explained it well and made it motivational, didn’t she? So glad you liked it, Nisha, I bet Kate will be happy too!  ♥xx

  8. October 22, 2019 / 2:47 pm

    Yay, I can comment on your posts again. Thank you for whatever you did.

    Kate did a great job on this post. You two are like minds. That’s a good thing.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Caz. Big hug. ♥

    • October 23, 2019 / 12:33 pm

      Hurrah, that’s brilliant news! Thanks for letting me know – your help is much appreciated & I’m glad you liked Kate’s post, too!  ♥
      Happy Humpday! xx

  9. October 22, 2019 / 3:28 pm

    If only I could really convert it, I’d have a tower of wisdom, a super power’s worth even! Imagine!

    • October 23, 2019 / 12:34 pm

      Ooooo the endless power & possibilities!! I’ll join you in the quest to figure out how to convert it 😉
      Thanks for the comment lovely – Hope you’re having a good week so far! xx

  10. October 23, 2019 / 7:51 pm

    I love this post by Kate. She is certainly very wise. I always think it’s better if we can accept and live with our pain rather than fight against it all the time. It’s easier said than done, but it can allow us to live and enjoy life to the best of our ability. In one of my early blog posts, I said, I am not my pain. Pain is part of me, but it’s not all of me. Some days I do have to reread the words to remind myself. We can’t let it take everything from us.

    • October 27, 2019 / 3:34 pm

      That is so well said, “I am not my pain. Pain is part of me, but it’s not all of me”. Definitely good to get a reminder that we have more control than we may realise, even if it’s in ways we hadn’t anticipated before. I’m so glad you liked the post by Kate, thank you, Liz! ♥ xx

  11. October 27, 2019 / 6:08 am

    A powerful post. It’s funny how acceptance actually lessens pain. It takes so much effort and energy to fight. Energy we sometimes (or a lot of time) just don’t have. Thanks for sharing the post. And I’m sorry about the loss of your dad, Kate. Praying for your family!
    I’m also hopeful this message will get through to you, Caz. Your blog is finally coming back up! I will have to try the link from the FB too.
    Lord willing! 🙂
    God loves you, Caz! God loves you, Kate!

    • October 27, 2019 / 3:37 pm

      I’m so glad the blog is working okay now for you, hurrah! And that you liked Kate’s post! Bless you, Gail  🌷 Have a lovely week ahead my friend ♥ xx

  12. November 1, 2019 / 11:21 pm

    This really was a powerful and well-written post! I do believe and always have that once we accept the pain, it often lessens. Kate, I am so terribly sorry for your loss and wish there was more I could do to help your pain. I am a little behind, but my thoughts are with you and your family.

    • November 2, 2019 / 3:52 pm

      Thank you for such a lovely comment, Alys. I’m sure Kate will appreciate it too. I totally agree, it’s an incredibly powerful & well-written post!  ♥ xx

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