Soften Around the Pain

If it’s painful, you become willing not just to endure it, but also to let it awaken your heart and soften you. You learn to embrace it.” Pema Chodron

It doesn’t occur to most of us to embrace our pain, let alone soften to it. We resist pain and disappointment and pretend that we have accepted it. We tell ourselves that pain is just part of life and we must endure it. Rather than lean in, we lean away with all our might. In some ways, we act as if we get to close and comfortable with our pain, that it will consume us. Yet, the waves of pain are inescapable if we are honest with ourselves. Despite our efforts to steel ourselves to the pain, grief can come out of nowhere. And because of some of the unpredictability of it, many of us assume that if we numb or harden our heart, we will be protected. The reality is that only when we lean in and embrace our pain, can we then allow it to soften us – to help us embrace what we need so that we can rise above those unpredictable waves of grief. And when you think about it, if we can learn to soften around it, imagine how differently we recover when the trauma passes. Instead of bracing for the next tragedy, we can begin to see life as a series of moments that awaken our heart – that allows us to breathe in compassion, love, beauty and understanding. We can even begin to release comparison and anger and replace it with acceptance and surrender for what our journey may bring next. As Pema Chodron suggests, we must be willing not just to endure – but allow the pain to soften us and bring more grace to our every moment.

Weekly Path to Peace: Soften around the pain.

  • Whether it is a break-up, illness or other pain, imagine what it might look like to let go of the resistance you feel. Notice how much resistance you have around your pain. Feel if you are carrying tension, numbing, not sleeping or find yourself angry or short with loved ones. Before you can release and soften to the pain, you must recognize all the ways you are actually hardening to the pain.
  • Next, ask yourself how might this moment serve to open my heart? Can you find more compassion for your pain or disappointment? Or perhaps if you are angry with another, can you begin to bring understanding and love to them as a way to soften yourself? Simply, explore all the ways you can use your current situation to soften you and awaken your heart.