The Only Way Out is Through

The only pain that can be avoided, and some of the worst kinds of pain, is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain.–Henry Cloud

When I read this quote yesterday from Dr. Henry Cloud, I immediately identified with it. It’s a thought-provoking statement.  Here are some responses I came up with last night…last night at 3 am when I should have been sleeping but instead I woke up and thought more about this quote.

Here’s my take on it. Pain is inevitable. There is no way to live a pain-free life no matter how hard we try sometimes. Things happen, life happens, and many times there’s nothing we can do to prevent  those bad things.  The only thing we do have control over is how we choose to respond. What will our next step be?

Pain sucks.  There is no denying that.  But, the worst kind of pain is the pain that comes on the heels of us trying to avoid, deny or run from the original pain.

I know from personal experience this is true.  When I lost my mom to cancer, there was a big part of me that refused to walk through that pain.  Instead of facing it, and choosing to fully embrace the “suck”…I chose to run in a different direction. The pain of losing my mom was tremendous but I agree with Dr. Cloud, avoiding it instead of walking through it will only delay our healing. Pain must be fully acknowledged before healing even has a fighting chance of beginning. Several weeks ago, I wrote about how it’s like the big elephant standing in the room. We have to admit it’s there.

Prior to reading this quote yesterday, my brother posted this video on Facebook of a man who struggles with depression.  He shares in the video his journey with depression and his journey as an ultra-marathoner. By the way, my brother is also an ultra-marathoner…just one of the many reasons I think he’s absolutely nuts and absolutely incredible. 😉  But, that’s a story for a different post.

This video is worth a watch. I love how this runner has found the common threads between the pain of depression and the pain of running. I love how he has learned to “embrace” both pains. At one point in the video, he shares how trying to deny his episodes of depression only makes the episode last that much longer. His statement reminded me of Dr. Cloud’s quote.

I also thought about John Green’s book, The Fault in Our Stars, again.  “Pain demands to be felt.” Yes it does. There is no “healthy” way to run around it.  We must choose to face it and run through it

depressions – a few moments from 30 miles in the canyon. from Joel Wolpert on Vimeo.

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