Protecting Yourself from Pain? Why You Need to Break Free and Live Fully

Protecting Yourself from Pain? Why You Need to Break Free and Live Fully

We can invest so much energy sheltering ourselves from pain that we gamble away our ability to feel anything at all.

It happens, it sucks, and we may not even realize the bubble we are hiding in while we desperately try to save ourselves. Worst of all, we continue to pack layers onto our barriers until they become masters of their craft, eventually blocking out everything.

I thought I was being strong when I taught my heart to avoid breaking, but by rendering it so untouchable, I've instead weakened it. Caging my heart made it unable to handle or process anything, good or bad, and I had no idea my connections were dissolving until it was too late.

Did I think I would never love again? For a time, yes, when I was too focused on how much easier I thought it would be to shield my fragile heart from harm.

Now more than anything, I miss feeling hurt.

Of course I miss feeling comfortable, satisfied, happy, all of that, but nothing feels as powerful as being swallowed by pain, and nothing strengthens your heart like climbing your way out of it.

It may sound twisted to miss feeling the breaking point, but living without bursting human emotions shows you that there is no life in safe. Constantly guarding yourself can take you to a quieter place at times, but you will eventually be met with an emptiness and resentment that will leave you yearning for more.

"Many people die at 25 and aren't buried until they are 75." ~ Benjamin Franklin

While getting my ass kicked in yoga last night, I was reminded that I was supposed to be working toward letting go, not clenching up. I let my body relax during an endless chair pose, and suddenly a wave of understanding flooded my brain as I realized this is what my heart and my mind need, too. For months I have been tirelessly attempting to deeply feel and process the moments I am experiencing, but when our hearts, minds, or bodies feel wound up tight, they need released, not fought, especially in uncomfortable situations.

So I asked myself, when does my heart feel most free? Where do I find myself during moments of overwhelming warmth? Adding in a little awareness of my surroundings uncovered patterns about when my heart flutters and my face grins and glows.

Next time my heart is feeling blue, these moments will help me begin anew...

Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.
— Hafez

1. Sipping coffee in a local diner with a friend
2. Being among the members of my community
3. Storytelling through reading and writing
4. Belly-laughing in a group of friends
5. Triumphant moments of spiritual strengthening during my yoga practice
6. Providing a shoulder for loved ones to cry on
7. Helping others heal through the honesty of my words
8. Caring for my cat, giving her a good life every day
9. Moving my body to its own rhythm at any moment
10. Spiritual bonding and meditating with loved ones

When you're feeling rutty, hold onto the moments that make you feel alive, and allow yourself to venture to them with open arms. 

Next time you feel moved, notice where you are, and remember your heart's need for these precious experiences.