You don’t need to get rid of pain to live a meaningful life.

Lisa Olivera (IG @_lisaolivera)

I read that quote last night on IG, and it is the most truest wisdom I have read in a long time.

Do you ever have those moments where you just go–YES. THIS. This is the exact thing I needed to hear and that’s all I needed to get through today? Maybe it was the exact thing I needed to get through, period. That quote was the message. It has carried me through since I read it.

What a novel concept, that we aren’t here to GET RID of the pain. We can instead cultivate awareness. We can cultivate attention. We can cultivate self-awareness and acceptance of the pain. That kinda sounds like the stages of grief, don’t you think? Acceptance is the part where you’ve integrated the pain, and can start to heal. You have accepted that the pain is part of you now.

I don’t know about you, but that one really has gotten me thinking. Olivera says in her post…which you should read from the source, that “where did you get the idea that the goal of healing was to get rid of...?”


My friends, this has given me a new framework. It’s so simple, but major paradigm shift.

I remember in my 30s thinking that I HAD TO JUST POWER THROUGH all painful things and DEAL WITH THEM UNTIL THEY WERE HEALED. My therapist(s) back then all suggested that it’s okay to do things that are joyful and don’t focus on the “problems,” but I didn’t get it. I thought that was like living in denial. I thought I had to power through, and eventually my efforts would be rewarded. I guess, this era, post college and post-first Master’s, I had that “just get it done” methodology thoroughly ingrained in me. I had a lot of shit to deal with in my 30s, as most humans do. I had two young children. My dad died. My marriage hit its first major speed bump. I was professionally underwhelmed, underpaid, and under-resourced. I was exhausted. I had massive growing pains.

I’m thinking back to that time now, and want to hug myself. I had such a poor tortured heart. I wanted so badly to just be good at everything. I wanted everyone to be happy all the time, especially myself, and I tried to fix everything to no avail. I didn’t understand why things didn’t make sense to me all the time, and I didn’t understand why I was so hurt by communicating with people that didn’t “get” me. I was the epitome of my most intensely saddened anxious bunny self, because I believed in the fairy tale, and as Glennon Doyle says, I believed in the Disney Princess ideal.

The height of my darkest anxious 30s decade moments is when I finally found anti-anxiety meds thanks to a great therapist. I have been on them ever since. (Thank you.)

I got my first teaching school age gig at 36. From then on, teaching and educational research has led me to more breakthroughs in mental health than psychology research and therapy has. So I entered therapy after that with different vocabulary, and it guided the way the work went. I thought about it from the “yes the trauma happened” as well as “what is going WELL?” One of my biggest personal therapeutic advances has been to learn “what will I do week. to honor the things that feel good and go well?” A kind of focusing on the good, I’d say.

I think being a teacher and working with young humans that are trauma survivors has taught me more acutely than therapy could. It still does. I am much more likely to show up for my students than myself, and I do a lot of the things I do to be of service to children. I do yoga or mindfulness or gratitude or mindset work to support children, and yes, it supports me, too.

My naturopathic oncologist challenged me, though. She reminded me that I am worth my own practice. And that I need it for myself.

So, being a better human is going to mean…actually taking better care of myself.

The pain that the children in my classroom(s) are in has always stunned me. It is so there. It’s a part of our whole experience together. My pain can co-mingle with their pain. We can learn and experience joy and actually move through it together. I have actually done anchor charts and whole lessons on how we can have many emotions at once, including painful/joyful ones.

I guess I’m still surprised at how much this has gotten in me.

Sometimes things are said in exactly the right way.

Sometimes things are explained in the exactly right way.

And sometimes, we are in the exactly right moment when the words float our way.

Love yourself. Despite and Because of your pain. Feel all of the feelings. Make the next best decision.

All of it is valid. All of it is part of you.


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