Pain or Personality?


It cannot be denied.

It will be released.

It will have its day in the sun.

You can lock it up, stuff it way down deep, try to ignore it or even temporarily pacify it. But eventually, Pain, in its relentless pursuit of freedom, will let out its voice and demand to be heard. However, Pain is also immensely creative. It is able to be released in many, many, various and differing ways.

How we release our pain, is ours to choose.

Some drink, some smoke, some eat, and some rage, while others soldier on. Some paint, some write, some sing and some strum, while others soak, wade, and wallow.

With so many options, we must remember that we get to choose the way in which we release our pain. Or do we? Does everyone really get to choose, or is the act of choosing reserved for only the sound mind? And what if we are in denial of even possessing some sort of pain, what if we see our behaviors as simply part of our personality that we feel people just need to accept?

Here’s a way to find out: Ask.

Ask your friends, ask your family, ask your children, or ask your spouse. Ask.

Inquire about how you make people feel. Request feedback on your behaviors and your expressions of love towards them. If asked in genuine sincerity, a wonderful thing happens – your people will tell you the truth. Because here’s the thing: expressing criticism is a loathsome, yet necessary, venture. But, when feedback is requested, someone has indicated that they are willing and open to hearing. 

Recently, in one of my communications classes, I had to give a survey to a few close friends and get feedback on my communication skills (aka: listening skills). I sent one to my best friend, gave one to my husband, then gave one to my three children. I carefully prefaced the survey, stating that I surely had not arrived at complete communication gold status, and really just wanted honest feedback.

And that is exactly what they gave me.

A few scores stung a bit, I have to admit, but I was more thrilled that they were truthful, and that they trusted me with their vulnerable honesty. After all, I feed them. They could have very well feared a week of sloppy sandwiches and refried beans for dinner! What a success. We had practiced the art of cultivating authentic relationship through honesty, vulnerability, and trust with one another, and it was good.

I did not say it was comfortable, I said it was good.

Asking your loved ones to evaluate you is both healthy and humbling. It took a lot for me not to react in defense and pick apart their scores (both of which are responses to pain). I had to work extra hard to remain open and soft. But that, for me, was also a practice to the art of curating authentic relationship, and it was good. Again, not comfortable, but good.

Say this: “I have not arrived”.

Congratulations! You have just acknowledged that you have more to learn. This statement is wonderfully deflating to the ego, as it brings us back down to the level of connection to humanity. Back to the ground level. Back to where our two feet are planted on the earth – smack dab next to our brothers and sisters.

To which they may reply: Welcome back.

Sometimes, the celebration of our ego’s deflation is an indication to how far we have floated above others. Rising so far above them, that we are no longer able to see their expressions to our behaviors, or hear their voiced concerns. Sometimes, the celebration of our ego’s deflation comes as a lighthouse beacon shining onto our path, preventing us from crashing into the rocks ahead.

Some relationships can be salvaged, some cannot. But when we take the time, the effort, and courageously make ourselves vulnerable today, we will see the soft blinking lights, those opportunities for development, that arise to prevent a break-down in the future.


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