So… I was at the nail salon once and decided I was quite overdue for an eyebrow wax (admittedly I don’t go as often as perhaps I should – only several times a year max – since I don’t really grow messy or bushy eyebrows). I’m not sure if it’s because I am not used to it, or if it is just plain old painful, but each and every time I go, my eyes water from the discomfort (I habitually leave with black mascara running down my face), and I try to find ways to distract myself from it.
I have experimented with many methods of coping. Pinching my hand. Digging my nail into my hand. Closing my hair clip on my hand. My theory being if something else hurts, I wont feel the pain from waxing as much. I have tried focusing my attention elsewhere. Thinking. I have even tried playing mind games, telling myself it doesn’t hurt.
However, despite my many attempts, I have yet to find a suitable method for reducing the obvious pain or distracting myself from it. It still hurts. A lot. My last visit, when using my hair clip as a distractive counter-pain didn’t work, I began pondering a correlation between eyebrow waxing and inner emotional pain. I was sure there must be one… and that a lesson was to be found deep inside the seemingly unrelated and superficial act of self-care or vanity.
According to dictionary.com, “pain” is physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc. A distressing sensation in a particular part of the body. Mental or emotional suffering or torment.
My conclusion? We encounter pain all the time. Our lives are based on pain… And avoiding it. We try most everything to avoid the pains we fear the most. Abandonment. Rejection. Exclusion. Loneliness. Disappointment. Failure. The list goes on. But the truth is we are not very successful at it. While we continue to find new and unique ways to put a band-aid or mask over our “pains,” the pain itself never goes away. We are simply building our lives around it, trying to stay far away from it.
In doing so, it is ruling our lives whether we realize it or not. It guides our choices. And often times the pain we fear is not even happening to us in real life. The residual affect of past pains is what is present in our everyday.
It is not until we let go and face the pain itself that we can experience freedom from it. Face it. Feel it. Allow it to exist without judgment or attachment. And let it flow and move through us... Not get stuck in us. The only real way to experience and handle pain… is to let it happen. And let it move on. We have already learned that we cannot distract ourselves from it. So what do we have to lose? Sure, it’ll be unpleasant to experience. But once it’s done, it’s done.
And liberation from all of our fears is far more rewarding than simply running a mental marathon to get ahead of it and lose it in the dust. My waxing was over. I survived it. I had freshly shaped, clean eyebrows. And a new perspective on pain.
Try this exercise:
Take a few moments to reflect on your own life. In what ways are you acting out to avoid pain? What are some of your underlying fears, feelings you wish to avoid? Are there any old pains or fears that you can reflect upon, face, accept and move on from?
Often times, we lose sight of how we are suffering as a result of building our lives around our pain and fears. How would your life look – and how would that feel – if you were no longer afraid of that particular pain? Imagine that… feel it… embrace that newfound freedom and revisit to that place each time you find yourself retreating back into your old habits. Remind yourself that freedom is far more rewarding (and less consuming) than running away and building walls of avoidance or distraction. You are stronger than you know.