Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety” which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addiction. Please download your copy of “Manifest Holistic Health” from Sherry’s Enrich Your Life Series Contact Sherry at firstname.lastname@example.org for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements.
We humans are so afraid of pain—physical pain and emotional pain—that we’ll do almost anything to avoid it. We’ll even choose something safe and familiar that we don’t like, rather than taking a risk on something we really want. We do that because risky ventures might fail, and failure causes us pain.
Our fear of pain is what leads us to addiction. We can’t bear the pain of our current situation or the memories of a painful past, so we numb ourselves in an effort not to feel it.
The irony here is that our efforts to avoid pain just cause us more pain—and make true happiness impossible. We don’t take the risk, so we never get what we want. We don’t face the difficult past, so we are never free of that pain. We don’t sort out the painful present, so we never make things right. And the pain just goes on and on.
We can’t be numb 100 percent of the time. And in sobriety, we can’t be numb at all. So we need to learn how to experience our pain—truly feel it—and just sit with it.
How can we do this? The first step is to see it for what it is. We are so afraid of pain that we build it up in our minds: “This pain will be the biggest, worst, most intolerable pain ever and I will not be able to bear it, which is why I must do anything to avoid it.” Do you see how our fear of experiencing pain makes it seem worse than it really is?
Rather than worry about how bad it’s going to feel, just feel it. Feel it without adding on the extra burden of fear. Notice the pain with interest and curiosity. Just tolerate it for a bit. Notice how it makes you feel. Know that eventually it will pass.
When you learn to detach from your pain without fear or desperation—rather than fighting it, ignoring it or trying to numb it away—you’ll see that, after all, it is only a thought. And thoughts exist in our minds. They are not part of our lives. There’s no need to fear them.