Archive: Strength

January 26, 2016

How Much Pain Will You Tolerate?

angle of grief

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle.

Challenges build character.

If we can get through this, we can get through anything.

No pain, no gain.

There is a lot of glorification of pain in our culture. There are a lot of stories about pain making us stronger. And while it’s true that through adversity we can grow…it’s also true that there is a limit to how much we can (or need to) endure.

Years ago I was an actress and during a show I passed a kidney stone on stage. I was in excruciating pain, but I kept going. After the show one of my co-actors said to me, “I’m really impressed with you. What you did, only actors or athletes could do!” I remember wearing that statement like a badge of honor. I was proud of myself for pushing through. There is a lot that can be said for honoring your obligations and commitments. And at the same time, I totally ignored my pain in order to keep going. Earlier that day I had called my urologist (I had been in the hospital for kidney stones a few days prior) and complained about pain and he told me I was being sensitive and I should take another vicodin. So I listened to the expert and told myself that I was overreacting. I told myself I was being weak and I went out in the world (and on stage) and ignored my pain.

For anyone living with chronic pain, you know what it is like to desensitize yourself from your pain. You are so used to the pain that it starts to be incorporated in how you feel every day. What might be a 7 for someone else on the pain scale, becomes a 4 for you, because that is your normal. Your relationship to pain changes. Your tolerance for pain changes. And sometimes you suffer greatly.

This doesn’t only happen with physical pain, but also with emotional pain. If you’ve been ignored in a relationship or treated poorly, you may expect to be treated that way. If you are used to taking care of others without much reciprocity, you power through when you need support. You may deny your own wants and needs. You make it work.

If you’ve been sick for a week, your coworker may respond with, “You think that’s bad? I’ve been sick for 2 weeks!” As we compete for whose life is harder, we start to doubt our own experience.

You’re crazy.”

Don’t be so sensitive.”

You’re overreacting.”

Man up!”

Don’t be silly.”

It’s not a big deal.”

Don’t you trust me?”

It’s not that bad.”

If you’ve been tolerating quite a bit of pain then you might start to doubt your own intuition. If your own pain radar goes off but someone else tells you it’s not a big deal, you might start to believe them and ignore yourself. As someone else invalidates your experience, you may believe them. You wonder, ‘Am I overreacting? Is it really that bad?’ You see other people soldiering on and you feel like you should do the same.

Pain is inevitable. Things happen that are hard or sad or excruciating. There will be pain. There are also limits to what you need to endure.

Take a little inventory in your own life. How much pain are you tolerating?

(I didn’t ask how much you CAN tolerate, I know that you are strong and able to tolerate pain, but do you need to?)

How much pain are you willing to tolerate?

Is there anything that will alleviate some of your pain?

Support from friends or family

Seeing a doctor

Exploring your grief

Hiring a coach or therapist

Delegating or getting help with tasks

Getting more sleep

Radical Self Care

There is no shame in making your life easier. Getting support doesn’t make you weak. And tolerating excruciating pain doesn’t always make you strong.

Filed under: Receiving,Strength,Support,Trust — admin @ 5:00 pm

August 1, 2014

What are you afraid of?

Image by Trey Ratcliff

Image by Trey Ratcliff

Fear has been coming up in my office a lot lately.

  • Fear of rejection.
  • Fear of getting hurt.
  • Fear of feeling exposed.
  • Fear of disappointment.
  • Fear of an unwanted response.
  • Fear of getting in trouble.
  • Fear of making the wrong choice.
  • Fear of looking foolish.

Fear of something bad happening or feeling some kind of pain.

Often when we feel fear we try to ignore it or talk ourselves out of it. We tell ourselves the fear is “irrational” or “unreasonable.” We shame ourselves for being weak or scared. We power through. We fight our fear.

Or we give the fear a ton of power and avoid doing the thing on the other side of the fear. The thought of the pain or consequences are too intense so we give up the dream or desire for the other thing. We tell ourselves that thing isn’t worth it or it’s not important.

I know fear isn’t pleasant.

I know fear can feel powerful.

I also know that just because I’m afraid doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do something.

I often feel fear before doing something that ends up being highly important. I was afraid to take a toddler to Paris. There were a bunch of things that could have gone wrote. There were many things I felt afraid of. And I also knew that if I didn’t do it I would regret it. I reminded myself that just because I’m afraid doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. I took a step back from my fear, I examined it, I got curious about it. And in the end I went anyway…and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I learned so much about my strength…things I never would have learned if I let my fear talk me out of it.

You don’t need to ignore your fear or talk yourself out of it. You also don’t need to be held prisoner by your fear. Here are some ways you can get curious about your fear and decide if you want to proceed with your desire.

  • Ask yourself what you are most afraid of – For example perhaps you are afraid of dating because you don’t want to fall in love and get hurt if the relationship doesn’t work out.
  • And what happens if that happens? – It will feel painful. I will be sad. I will feel rejected.
  • And then what? – I will get jaded. I will shut down. I will be alone.
  • And what happens if you don’t do the thing you are afraid of? – If I don’t date, I will still be alone. (And you will have missed out on the joy you felt when the relationship was working).

Can you see that by not doing the thing you are afraid of, you may end up in the same place you fear?????

If you are afraid of initiating sex with your partner because you will feel rejected and therefore avoid initiating sex…you still end up in a situation where you aren’t having sex and you feel alone and undesirable.

If you are afraid of traveling because some bad thing might happen…that bad thing can still happen at home.

If you are afraid of taking a risk because you will feel foolish, you may protect yourself from feeling foolish…but you also protect yourself from the reward that can come with that risk.

What are you afraid of?

And what’s the worst thing that can happen if you acknowledge your fear and then do it anyway?

Filed under: Change,Strength — admin @ 11:59 am

April 26, 2014

Love will make you stronger!

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger!

How many times have you heard that phrase? How many times have you said it? I know from experience that the hard things do build strength and character and trust and beauty. I know that we grow from our challenges. I also think sometimes we over-pride ourselves on hardship and deprivation. Are you seeking out the hard? Are you relishing the pain? Are you equating ease and gentleness with weakness?

We fancy the underdog and pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps…no pain no gain!

Yes, yes to all of those things. I love seeing people persevere and overcome the odds. Does struggling for something make it worth more?

I also love seeing people love themselves. I love seeing people taking care of themselves. I know that we can grow and change and get stronger when we treat ourselves well.

Imagine a flower. It’s so incredible to see those tenacious little flowers growing in rubble. Those tough flowers pushing themselves through the cracks of cement. That juxtaposition is moving. Now imagine a flower that is fertilized and water and loved. Is that flower less beautiful, less special because it was cared for? In some ways that tended flower can be even more robust, right?

heart flower

Are you tending the flowers of your soul? Are you tending to yourself?

I know that we will all experience times when we need to be strong…times when we will struggle and strain and fight our way through. And yes, they will make us strong. We will overcome and it will be hard…and sweet…and hard.

Don’t overlook the strength that comes from love and caring. Don’t forget the power self-love can provide. I’m wrapping up my Shower Yourself with Love class and I’ve seen first hand the strength that love creates. It’s been a gift to remind myself about self-love every single day. I’m putting myself in the equation. I’m filling my own cup. I feel strong. Love will make you stronger!

Filed under: Love,Self-love,Strength — admin @ 4:42 pm

June 8, 2013

Breaking Down or Breaking Open?

broken open

You know when things feel so hard you don’t know how you will continue?

When your heart is breaking

or

You feel battered by life

or

You have been betrayed and you don’t know who/what you can believe anymore.

Those times you feel hopeless and confused – and faith or trust are just words that you can no longer cling to…

Those times…oh those times…the times you stay awake thinking or crying or wishing and bemoaning…those times you can’t eat (or all you can do is eat)….you bargain…you try to use logic…you try to understand…it’s like doing a complex math equation with fruit instead of numbers…

Those times the hurt feels so strong you really don’t understand how you aren’t having an actual heart attack at this very moment.

It is in those moments where things feel like they’ve ended that they begin.

You feel broken.

You want to break down.

You ARE breaking open.

This is your chance to see what is inside…what you are made of.

You are hurting (maybe even feel like you are dying)…can you also be open?

Filed under: Change,Grief,Strength,Vulnerability — admin @ 4:55 pm