Pain occurs as a part of life.
But prolonged, ongoing suffering is optional.
If you’ve been dragging around a past pain for months or even YEARS – there’s an excellent chance you’re experiencing some dirty pain.
And in this case, dirty is not a good thing.
In pain, the difference between clean & dirty can be summed up in a single word.
Resisting pain prolongs it and turns it into ongoing suffering.
Clean pain has virtually no resistance. It’s like ripping off a band-aid. There are 5 steps ::
- Realize it’s going to hurt.
- Accept it.
- Lean into the pain – feel it fully.
- Move straight through, feeling the whole way.
- Come out the other side.
Yes – it hurts. But through acceptance, eventually you come out the other side.
Dirty pain lacks acceptance and instead is all about resistance. This resistance stops the process completely. In fact, dirty pain will last as long as resistance remains. Some people stay stuck at step #2 for years ::
- Realize it’s going to hurt.
Accept it.Resist. Resist. Resist
Resistance is simply arguing with “what is” or reality. And as Byron Katie says, “When you argue with reality, you lose.”
As long as we resist, we stay stuck. Some people spend DECADES stuck here.
The funny thing is – we often think resisting is SAVING us from suffering.
It actually prolongs it.
There is only one way out.
How to Tell the Difference
Not sure if your pain is clean or dirty?
Clean pain is raw and pure. In death, it usually shows up as the sadness of missing a loved one.
Dirty pain is more complicated. It’s the stories we tell ourselves about the pain.
For example, when a loved one dies, the (dirty pain) stories may sound like any of the following ::
- I should have spent more time with him before it was too late.
- She was too young to go.
- It’s not fair for someone so good to have to go through that.
What “Acceptance” Looks Like
Another way to think about it is to look at your own response when you hear a 102-year-old woman died. A common response to this news is sadness, but with peace. We say things like, “She had a good life.” Why? Because we accept it. We haven’t created a painful story that with the right medical care she could have lived another 50 years.
Can you see what a difference acceptance makes?
The good news is, acceptance is ALWAYS an option, no matter the circumstance.
How to Clean Up Your Pain
Next time you experience pain, first determine if it’s clean or dirty.
Listen in on your thoughts. Are you spinning stories?
If so, it’s dirty pain. At that point, observe the painful stories you’re telling yourself. Write them out if necessary.
Next, remind yourself those stories aren’t true. They’re arguing with reality.
Take your time.
Gently let your awareness of these stories begin to guide you toward acceptance of “what is”.
Once you’ve stripped away the stories, identified and accepted the pain in its purest form, when you’re ready – finish out the final steps :: Lean into the pain – feeling it the whole way, move straight through and come out on the other side.
Just know there is no feeling you are not able to feel. And just like ripping off a band-aid, the sooner you move into it, the sooner you come out on the other side.
I hope that helps. Sending love to you.