power in clean…and dirty?… pain.

thursday night at church, we discussed if there is power in pain.

I could not stop bobbing my head, yes, yes, yes!  of course!

it was so clear to me that is the case.  look at anyone in the world who has experienced tremendous pain.  and used that pain to change the world.

Ghandi.  Martin Luther King, Jr. Nelson Mandela.  Mother Theresa.

the usual crew.  🙂

oh, I found a new one today (Sunday) to add to the list>>>Kevin Maynard.  google him.  he is amazing.  and definitely one who found the power in the pain.

so…the only area of pain the group was hung up on===>physical pain.

how the heck can that bring any sort of power that is for good use?  some asked.

while the conversation commenced, I started thinking about the varying degrees of pain I have had in my life.  lots of emotional pain.  and ongoing physical back-pain.  and then I thought about MS.  hmmm.

so I started to evaluate where I’m at with that topic as I approach my six-month anniversary post diagnosis.

pain on both fronts.  emotional and physical.

muscular pain.  weakness. and weird sensations that still hang on.  daily fatigue.  brain fog.  problems picking the right word.  the list goes on.  I checked in to see if I had any emotional pain tied to my physical pain on that front.  nope. it is what it is.  I guess.  not so sure yet about the last three items I listed.  ha!  see, I’m not totally fixed.  😉

it’s the emotions that I have worked so hard to address, because I did not want that kind of pain hanging on.   emotions that I was able to stop from becoming yuck-o.  (i.e., I deserved this.)

umm…yeah. this will be a daily exercise until those thoughts are no longer there.

(much better by the way! much better.)

but it is from this pain that I will derive my power.  to give back.  and help others some day with similar experiences to restore self-confidence.


so then my thoughts digressed after I got home, and I started thinking about the two types of pain that we learned about in life coach training…

clean and dirty pain.

physical pain is clean pain – it is just there.  that’s it.  period.  like what my hub is currently experiencing.

here’s where it gets complicated>>this pain is at risk of turning into dirty pain.  if your emotions that surround the physical pain – and grab at you for years to follow.  just like the physical pain that is already there.  (i.e., I was so stupid for getting into the car that day, I am such a failure.)

does that make any sense?

let me simplify this.

clean pain>>>physical and emotional pain that one cannot control.

i.e., an injury or someone close to you passing away.

dirty pain>>>emotions associated with physical and non-physical events in one’s life – emotions that just hang on.  and don’t go away.  in fact, the emotions often grow.  and easily get twisted up with current events.

i.e., a break-up from 20 years ago.  dirty pain if one still talks about it; angry about what is.  clean pain if the break-up just happened a month ago.  or even a year ago.


it’s the emotional pain that always trips us up.  and usually after it turns into the dirty variety.  trust me, I’m familiar with dirty pain!  but have done a lot of work to let things go.  things that don’t matter at all.  and are really irrelevant in my life now.

things hurt in the moment.  and for a variety of reasons.  this is life.  we are all going to suffer at some point.  and over and over again.

because someone or something let us down.

because we let someone else down.

and when we have let ourselves down.

or from something we cannot control.

it’s what one does in that crucial moment (after the clean pain has subsided) and asks the question – do I want to be thinking about this one year, or five years or even ten years from now?

answer, no?  cool.  (yeah!)

remind yourself:  I can be kind to myself as I lean into the clean pain that I’m currently experiencing.  (by lean in, I mean – really feel the emotions fully.)  and make a commitment to myself to work through the emotions.  identify and acknowledge the pain and follow up emotions.  and start to move forward.  take note when something jiggles a familiar nerve.  oh hello, there.  I know you.  and this is  how I worked through it the last time.  this is what worked.  and what didn’t work. I am going to use this as an opportunity to do things a little differently this go around.   

sidebar>>this can still happen if you have been nursing your pain for years.  awareness that you have pain that is hanging on is the first step!  that is a small victory!  well, and also the desire to eliminate it…ha!

that’s the only thing we can do to help our happy, right?  once we’re through the clean pain, let’s start living again!

we only have one go at this round in life.  why not make it the best?

let’s get your happy on people!!

I have been reading the Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.  brilliant!

you can expect a full book report.  😉

Iife is full of challenges.  being happy shouldn’t be one of them…author unknown.



4 thoughts on “power in clean…and dirty?… pain.

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