Enlightened Relationships: Pain as Our Teacher

by Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed.

Do you have many things that you wish you could do, achieve, create and contribute? Do you want more joy in your life, to express something to someone, to create more balance? Do you want to stop simply living and start thriving? Do you want people to look to you for inspiration in following their own purpose? In other words,

Do you want to create your own movement?

So what holds you back? Is there a true limitation, or is it really just fear, a lack of clarity, or a perceived limitation? I know, it’s a lot of questions and not enough answers. I ask because I talk to many people who say that they want to follow their passion and then go on to tell me a million reasons why they can’t. The first thing I ask is if they know the true definition of passion. Passion is defined as an uncontrollable emotion. If this is the case, then why would anyone want to do anything based on uncontrollable emotions? Many times these untamed feelings lead us to act in ways that only serve us in the moment, but may not add to what we truly want long term.

There is a difference between a life of passion and a life of purpose.

If you want to create the reality you desire, than you have to be in alignment with your voice and your authentic self. Rather than acting on passion, you must find purpose and clarify it.

It all starts with accepting your pain and healing it. Many times I meet people who live a dissatisfied life filled with pain and don’t even realize it. This happens because they have lived in pain for so long that they have become desensitized to the point that they can’t even recognize it. When the pain does come up, they do whatever is in their power to repress it, blame it on something else, or entertain themselves so that they do not have to come face to face with reality. However, it is in this pain that many times we can uncover our true purpose, motivation, and drive.

If we repress pain, we don’t allow it to serve its purpose in our life.

For example, when I lost my brother I went through a lot of pain and suffering, but I discovered that suffering was an option. I recognized that pain was a natural part of the process, but the suffering came from continuing to rerun the story in my head. I learned that I could heal by deriving the purpose and meaning contained within the situation. What I found led me into an exploration to uncover my true self and my purpose, which is serving others and leaving a legacy for him by sharing his story and how his death transformed my life.

A situation does not always have to be pretty because out of ugliness we can derive beauty.

It’s just like the caterpillar (which is not the most attractive creature) that redefines itself into a beautiful butterfly. We owe it to ourselves to own our story, our painful experience and our struggles, and to let them blossom to serve their purpose in our lives. When we heal our pain, we can get to a place where we can be grateful for the situation because we recognize it as our teacher.

Have you ever heard someone share a painful life experience and then explain how that situation transformed his or her life? How does it make you feel? Does it make you feel more empowered or inspired? That pain became that individual’s movement, just like your pain can become your purpose and movement. Painful experiences leave an emptiness, and one way or another we fill it with something. Why not fill it with the things that will create our ideal self and our authentic life?

To uncover your most powerful purpose and start your movement, get a pen and paper and find a quiet room. Ask yourself: “What is my biggest pain and biggest fear?” Just start writing down everything that comes to mind. Now take a moment and go deeper. For example, when most people write something about a relationship they say their biggest pain was a divorce or a breakup, but as they go deeper they often discover their biggest pain was observing or experiencing a negative relationship in childhood. Their biggest fear actually is that they will create the same pattern, or maybe that they are not worthy of a great relationship, or that they will be taken advantage of, or that they will not be liked for who they are. Do you see what I mean? Many times, our biggest pain and fear have nothing to do with what we initially think. This is because over time we have masked our true fears with problems that are easier to face. Once you bring the truth into awareness it can be released.

Our past and our pain have created our present, but we choose how we use what we’ve been given to transform our future.

Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed., Ph.D. (ABD) holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology. Joeel’s extensive career as a relationship coach includes certifications in P.R.E.P, a 30-year research-based program for couples, Nurturing Father’s curriculum, and Parenting 21st Century. Joeel is now taking a select number of Life, Relationship, and Entrepreneurship Coaching clients. Contact Joeel at joeel@transformationservices.org

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