Why is it that we are constantly pushing our pain away, though it sits and simmers at the forefront of our minds?
In today's society, one that has been taken over by a social media phenomenon, it has become extremely difficult to know ourselves and to know our neighbors.
We spend countless hours each day ensuring that our followers don't dare see what our true feelings are; unless there is a smile on our face, of course. Through these social networks, we are all forced into portraying ourselves as the happiest creatures on Earth. We have all fallen victim to this "self-love" madness to some degree. We are afraid to be "real", so-to-speak, to show our pain to others, and for what? To maintain some sort of image that you think others should have of you? Seriously?
If you think I'm exaggerating, try reading between the lines of your Insta-friends' most recent, super clever, well-thought-out captions.
Sure, the picture is probably "hella' cute", but can you tell how they're actually feeling? When is the last time you liked an old friend's post on Facebook and considered asking, "It's so great to see you, but how are you, really?" It's time for us to be real with one another... to use these social platforms to help each other through our bouts of sadness.
"There's nothing wrong with a little pain...In fact, sometimes it takes death to teach us about life; it takes misery to teach us about joy. So embrace it when it comes. Say it's a part of life... Experience it!... Let it come out. Then forget it." - Leo Buscaglia
The thing about pain is that we often know it's there but refuse to truly acknowledge it.
It's like seeing a spider in the shower... You think, "maybe if I just close my eyes for five seconds, the spider will go away..." Until you bend down to shave your leg and the little guy pops up again, and you smoke your knee on the facet. "Great, now there's a gash in my knee AND a spider."
The harsh reality of it is this: The only way to rid pain is to feel it.
Why, then, do we choose to ignore the things that cause us pain? Why do we avoid difficult conversations? Spoiler: Because choosing pain is HARD... realllllly hard. Who wants to face their demons? Who wants to endure heartbreak? No one, obviously. Likewise, no one wants to be honest about how they feel. No one wants to admit that they are suffering, especially not to that one popular girl we went to high school with whose new puppy just got 10,000 likes on Instagram.
However, we must realize that the greatest life lessons often come from the most challenging situations.
I hope everyone has a moment when they can stand and say, "I made it. I overcame the greatest obstacle, and I am proud of my journey." What an incredible feeling.
I am a firm believer in the concept that life is full of choices.
Leo Buscaglia, a beautiful writer, teacher, and one of my greatest inspirations (I highly recommend his book), puts it perfectly. He says this, "You have choice. You can select joy over despair. You can select happiness over tears... You can select you. And you can select life... You, indeed, are the greatest force for you." Isn't that beautiful? That regardless of the pain we are feeling, we can choose how we perceive and cope with it? Not only that, but how lucky are we to have the ability to feel pain? If we do not feel pain, then we feel nothing... what is there to gain from that? The first step towards happiness may be directly through pain, but a step forward is a step, nonetheless. Celebrate your victories, big or small.
Our greatest advantage over pain is our ability to form relationships with those around us.
Through being vulnerable, we flourish and we gain companionship. You will find deeper connections when you show your real self, instead of the flawless person you attempt to portray on social media. I encourage you to use your next catchy caption to portray your true feelings, to attempt to connect with people. I am positive you'll get the "Girl, preach!" or "RTRT" comments more times than not because others have also felt those emotions and can relate to you.
So, how can you overcome your fear of pain?
Stare pain in the face, acknowledge it, feel it through your bones, then let it go.
There is no time limit on pain, but you must feel it. How you react to and handle yourself in difficult situations speaks volumes about your character.
You have choice: choose life, choose love, choose hope.
Not every story is black and white, but you have a choice to make yours better. You are not alone, but you have to do it for you and no one else.
Be vulnerable, share your story with others, and listen to those who seek your love.
In difficult times, you may learn how to deal with pain, and the greatest benefit comes from sharing your experiences with others. When you share your vulnerabilities, people learn to connect with you, to trust you. Be that person for someone.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255