What to do when pain comes?

To listen to the audio version of this blog, click here.

Last week while I was attending “Date with Destiny” – which is Tony Robbins’s most amazing seminar ever, I had a breakthrough on Day 1!

What was it?

Well, basically – Tony was telling us a story about what he went through on 9/11. It’s a day I’ll never forget. But in his story he was asking, “What did you think about?”  “What did you make it mean?” and “What did you do?”

And I thought about those questions as it relates to where I was on 9/11. I was in L.A., living next to the World Trade Center in L.A. (which is only a few stories high). And the first thing I thought about was leaving L.A. Driving somewhere. Getting out of town. I made it mean that I felt powerless to control my life. And what did I do? I got in my car and drove all the way to San Bernardino.

And while it was probably a smart decision to leave L.A. until we could figure out what happened, I saw a deeper pattern when I remembered this.

And here it was…

When I felt PAIN – I disassociated. That means… I wanted to escape – run away. Not face it. Not be of service or see how I could help, no – but instead, run.

And in the seminar, as I realized this, it was a BIG AHA! Because then I saw this pattern in all of my life. I saw how my eating disassociated me from my pain inside. How being “positive” disassociated me from the pain I was really feeling inside. I saw a string of moments where when I felt pain, I would focus on something else or want to go away, instead of dealing with it.

And it was a MAJOR AHA because I know now through what I do and teach that we must bring LIGHT to the darkness! Which means when I feel anger or pain – not to run away physically or emotionally, but to go into it, spiritually and DIG. Investigate. To no longer run away or stuff the pain down, but to go into it and bring the Light of my awareness into the pain so I can transform it.

It was a BIG ONE for me and I’m so grateful for it! And I can’t wait to see what this brings into my life!

Do you disassociate from your pain? Do you avoid it or go into it?

As always, the action happens in the comments below. Leave a comment and join the conversation! The TDL Community thrives in the comments and it’s a GREAT place to get support!

Love,

Mastin

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  • I also avoid conflict whenever possible.  Conflict, I feel, leads to pain, so I guess I’m trying to avoid the pain.  The thing is, I always bounce back really well AFTER a painful experience.  I just can’t seem to GO TO IT, like you said, Mastin, and dig. 

    Here is what I’m wondering:  How do you know when you should dig, and when you should let go?  When do you go TO the source of the pain, and when do you choose to remove yourself from it and instead do what makes you feel good and happy?  How do you know when you’ve “grown enough” and can then go around the thorn instead of pricking yourself with it yet again? 

  • Strong78

    I would love to know the answers to Sarah’s questions.  I recently just went through a very sad divorce, where my husband left me after changing his mind about having kids. People are amazed by my positive attitude about it all, but I now realize that I have completely disassociated from feeling sad. I don’t want to sit with that pain.  So, the question is, when do you know when you’ve sat with enough pain and need to just move on?  THank you for this post….my eyes are open now.

    • My feeling on the whole being positive and moving on thing is as long as we’re doing it out of love (love for ourselves first, and sometimes love for others as well), then it’s the right thing to do.  It’s up to US how we feel and how we react to the stuff that we encounter in our lives.  We can choose to sit with it, brood over it, wallow in it.  We can be sad, mad, upset, defensive.  OR we can choose to not hold onto it.  Let it go.  Let it be what it is, and not let it define us or our lives from here on out.  Yes, it happened.  Yes, it affected us.  But the point is to learn from every experience and grow from it.  I don’t think there’s any point in continuing to sit in pain and grief.  Choose to be happy, be positive, be free, and move on!  That’s not to say that the source of pain won’t surface again.  But when it does, we can deal with it again at that time, learning even more from it, and then letting it go again. 

      Just my thoughts….

      http://beyouliveyourdream.blogspot.com/

  • AZ

    In my view, our emotions are just a form of energy and if we don’t attend to it when our emotions come up (either because the situation does not allow for it or we don’t allow ourselves) it gets stored in the body.

    For myself, I’ve found the energy associated with unresolved pain will usually show up somewhere in my charkas (solar plexus, heart, throat…etc) and will become a nagging discomfort that takes a certain amount of energy to surpress further. I think for many this suppression becomes habituated over time, especially if the emotional pain is particularly challenging.

    Today, I try to look at these moments of being aware of my unfinished emotions as an opportunity to provide space for their existence, an honoring of their existence, so to say. So, when is the work done? For me the work is done when the emotion no longer holds a charge in my body. I approach it as a natural process, much like the opening of a tight bud on a flower…we give it space, allow it presence, and the pain unfolds. I sometimes find these releases happen over a period of time…especially for the tough stuff. I might deal with the content of an old wound and feel clear, just to find a nuance of it presents itself at another time.

    It all happens as it should, when it should. Our responsibility is to show up, be still, and allow the energy to come forth.

  • Thumbelina8740

    What a concept. It is an Aha moment when you know you are dissociating from the pain because either you are avoiding or are traumatized to “feel” the pain. I remember dissociating from the pain in a toxic relationship I was in years ago. My boyfriend would be so sarcastic and mean verbally that it would feel like I was punched in the stomach. I broke up so many times with him and finally just cut all connection in order to stop feeling the pain. I guess he was in tremendous pain himself and projected it on to me as I was accessible to hiym.

  • I’m going into it now, tapping is helping.  I’m still running though, there’s too much.

  • wholeplantfoodsheal

    I too was in a very toxic relationship.  I broke up 30 times and moved 5 times in 3 years over it.  In hindsight, I created this relationship and finally ended it.  I didn’t love myself enough.  I chose to be a victim, then.  The greatest source of my lifelong pain is that of the animals on this beautiul planet which humans exploit in every manner imaginable in pursuit of money.  I’m talking cows, pigs, chickens, fish, yes fish, as well as those we inflict horrific pain upon undergoing scientific “experiments” to “find cures” for conditions we have caused ourselves and can reverse with volition.  All life is precious under Heaven.  By harming others, we harm ourselves, deeply.  I have lower back pain now, herniated discs.  I’ve read we can create physical pain to distract the mind from the buried pain we don’t want to look at.  I know there is a part of me that feels powerless over the pain of animals, and humans.  I also know I now dedicate my life to removing all pain and creating peace for all creatures, human and animal, on our planet.  I believe as I immerse myself in this effort, all my physical pain will be removed.  If anyone has experienced this removal of physical by dealing with emotional/spiritual, please share.  p.s. I am vegan, mostly whole plant food diet.  Thank you, Mastin!  Trish 

    • Trish,
      I love and appreciate your post.  I also get deeply saddened by the treatment of other living beings.  Why anyone feels they have the “right” to cause direct pain and suffering on another living creature is beyond me.  I’ve also been vegan for going on 3 years, though I admit I haven’t been as steadfast in my committment lately.  And I’ve gotten into the raw food lifestyle as well, living in about a 50/50 balance now (50% raw, 50% cooked).  Anyway… I’m an advocate of love, kindness, consideration, and compassion in all aspects of our lives.  I wish you the best in easing your back pain!  I definitely believe everything is connected! 

      http://beyouliveyourdream.blogspot.com/

      • wholeplantfoodsheal

        Sarah, so glad to hear from another animal lover who truly loves all animals, not just selected ones.  There really is no difference in a pig, chicken, cow, cat or  dog.  All love life, have emotions like humans and extended families and social networks.  I used to eat my animal friends until I learned the truth of their suffering.  Once you know, you can’t go back and experience true peace at your core.  I pray the day will come when all animals will be safe at human hands.  Trish 

  • Lottemarijn

    It’s crazy how the topics of your blogs always seem to relate to my feelings of the day. Just today I was letting go a lot of pain I have experienced a few years ago, that I was never able to let go. After I finished, i shared with my boyfriend via text that I had this great experience and I did exercises (not exercises  I learned or read about, exercises I created for myself) that helped me. He send a short text back and it didn’t feel nice, but I was in a very forgivingy place, so I let it go and just looked forward to seeing him tonight to share it with him. Than suddenly he called me, asking me if I didn’t like the short message. I said it was okay and he asked one or two questions about my experience, which I didn’t take much room to talk about. And he quickly began talking about how busy it was at his job today and about the plans we have for tonight, not giving me any space for talking (of course, I didn’t take any oppurtunity or chanche here.) When we hang up i felt so sad and angry and I realised it was because I just had this amazing experience, and really eager to share it with him, and I didn’t take my chance to do so. I felt myself closing up to me, assuming he wouldn’t want to hear it, or he wouldn’t understand.
    Now i read this blog and you asked, what do you do when you feel pain? I close up. I close up to all the beautiful and lovely people around me and stop sharing. It’s like protecting myself from harm, while, there isn’t so much to protect cause you can’t really get harmed anyways.

    It’s hard for me nowadays to be open about my feelings or thoughts, and I haven’t quite figured out why that is and why I can’t seem to break the habit (maybe I need a crowbar to crack my jaws open, I don’t know). At least I know I do this and I’m trying to stand more for myself and be more open and loud about what I want to say. To really let my voice be heard, insted of waiting untill everyone is listening before starting to talk.

    Anyway, thank you Mastin, for writing daily blogs for me, for the rest of the community. Thank you for sharing and thank you so much that you are, indeed, making your voice heard in the crowd, and not waiting till someone gives you a spot. Thank you for the inspiration.

    (If one of you reading has any advice or things to share to me, please do, I’d love to hear it.)

    Lots of love,
    Lotte

    • Lotte,
      I feel like we’re similar people.  I also close up and don’t let people in.  It will literally take me YEARS to feel I can trust someone enough to show them *pieces*of the “real me.”  For me, personally, I trace this tendency back to my early childhood where my father cheated on my mother (I believe when she was pregnant, and then afterward for sure).  They separated and divorced, before I was 2 years old.  I had very little contact with my father after that.  I also never felt close to my mother, I believe we just never deeply bonded due to her having me at a young age (22), and my grandparents taking care of me quite a bit when my mom wasn’t there.  That’s the cliff’s notes version of my early childhood anyway, and why I believe I am the way I am today.  Maybe you have similar experiences?  Adults in your life who weren’t there for you or who weren’t reliable and responsible?  Leaving you to feel like you can’t trust people, and therefore not feeling safe enough to open up? 

      I, too, am still working on this in myself.  I think EACH experience is an opportunity.  An opportunity to show our true selves or not.  Like you, I’ve also kicked myself after the fact for not being more open and not speaking up for myself in one way or another.  I’ve done it again and again.  Luckily life keeps giving us opportunities to try again.  And that’s all we can do.  Keep going.  Keep doing our best.  And keep being US! 

      You might like my blog (I just started it).  If you want, check it out here:  http://beyouliveyourdream.blogspot.com/  

    • Phoenix28

      Thank you Lotte for sharing!

      It’s as though you spoke the feelings I have in my heart but do not have the words to articulate. I feel very resistant to opening up and sharing and being vulnerable. Even if there are people who want to listen or be there, it feels like there’s a rock on my chest that stops me from being open. There’s the underlying thought of ” They don’t really want to listen to you so stop wasting their time” 
      There’s always the painful feeling of not being worthy enough of someones attention, of not being worthy enough to receive. I know where this comes from too, it’s from having felt from a very young age that I was not as special, or as bright as my elder brother.  The child I was took it to mean that if my parents and loved ones do not see me as special or as an equal to my brother, that must mean there’s something wrong with me and that I am in effect unworthy. This pattern has played out again and again in my life where I ran after people and situations to validate me, or rather to validate that poor, scared little girl who had no idea what she was experiencing had nothing to do with her.  It’s gotten better now that I recognize why I close up but it’s still a daily challenge to stay open and not run. Anyway thank you Mastin for being brave enough to shine a light on the darkness. It gives me hope that even though this will likely be a daily cycle of remembering to not give in to old patterns and to stay open, it’s worth it to be free!

  • Sofie Karlstrom

    I was just cleaning out my e-mail inbox (e-mails from 2003 until today), resulting in a lot of emotional baggage emerging. I felt a lot of pain! Then I read this. And I decided not to flee, not to think as I usually do, that “this pain will last a lifetime”. Instead I started listening, and writing down what emerged. In the end I felt a huge weight lifted of my chest, I felt healing going on AND I got to know myself a little better. Thank you for helping me in this! Love, Sofie

  • Patricia E Knudsen

    Sofie, we all have the power … immense power.  When I write things down, it helps to clarify everything.

  • Donnatizzano

    Om My goodness, Me too!!  I can’t get on the blog daily to give you feedback but I feel  Direct Energy between your space and myself……………..hope you don’t think that is weird…lol
    I was thinking back to 911 as you suggested, I can say in the last 11 or 12 years I have learned how to embrace my pain(NO it does not feel good in any way) and grow from it.  at that time I was teaching children and I was the one in charge of 3-5 yr olds while all the adults scrambled about….I didn’t know the full scope of the tragedy unfolding and from those children I went to my children.,…to help them cope(8, 10, 13 yrs)
    10 years ago I might have avoided by helping others through but it was the beginning of my own inner awakening……………..I don’t stuff but I used to let pain consume me too much…

    I have been through recent difficult circumstances……..breast cancer and my 8yr relationship endiing all in the past months…………………I can feel the bleeding in my being at times (everyday still) and at the same time there is a stirring…a passion to give….to be of service..to forgive…embrace..love
    I found you from Oprah and you are meant to be in my path at this time………..can’t thank the universe enough…………………
    I do have a thought LOTTE,
    Sometimes we close up and protect ourselves when it is appropriate to do so…..Is your boyfriend a safeplace for you to share…………………..or maybe at that moment it is not a safe place and you feel bad about you because of it…
    Listen, be still,  and trust yourself…you don’t seem to be doing anything wrong…..you shared very openly on this blog…and it seems you are an enlightened giving soul…………….
    Hugs…Donnamarie…………………forgive me if this didn’t help …xo

  • Zoraya R.?

    My husband just left me and our marriage for the 5th time and although it hurts and it would be easierer to be the victim or hide from the situation. I have accepted my situation and take responsibility for my part in the failure of our marriage. With that said and because this is the 5th time he has run when things got rough I know I have grown and am willing to face whatever came at us. Meaning I was and am the one who no longer runs but the one who sticks it out and goes through the pain.

    It took this relationship and the many disappoints of it for me to realize I no longer run from fear or pain. I’m proud of that and I look forward to eventually finding someone who is willing to sit next to me holding my hand through it!!

    We learn from love and the hard times that come with it.

    Zoraya R.

  • Cubanapat

    I have learned this about life, life will gently show you your pain spots and life will allow you to run from it many times but there comes a day when you must confront it to find out what it is trying to teach you about you. When that time comes and what you should do is face it like a dog with his head hanging out of the window of a car, head on. For on the other side of pain you will see that it is not really pain at ll, it is true love in action. 

    • Strong78

      I absolutely LOVE this. THANK YOU.

    • TDL Reader

      I loved this too x x x

  • Thofmn

    After 9/11, I pulled the few remaining roots of my spirit from the earth and curled up in the toe of my God-given place in this world. Through yoga and spiritual readings, I am leaning to send those roots down and let the earth support me, giving me the strength and courage to unfurl, fill my space and become who God intended me to be.

  • Brandi

    Mastin, learning to love even the pain has been a huge part of my JunkiesRising work. I broke my back, damaging my spinal cord in 2000 and my daughter was adopted by family shortly after, in 2001. Between what then was only a budding heroin addiction and the chronic pain resulting from such extensive injuries, and then the emotional pain of losing my daughter, pain has had a LOT to teach me.

    Until this last couple years, I was an incredibly unwilling participant. I did everything I could to stuff, avoid, or numb any and all pain that came my way. Learning to allow pain to do its thing, run its course, and heal whatever its here to heal has opened my life up in ways that I never imagined possible.

    This one concept keeps me coming back again and again to work on JunkiesRising, pain or no pain, and to devote myself to being an example of this message in service of ALL the dreams that would be realized if we could just *get this one damn thing…that pain is not our enemy, it always has something to teach us, some gift to deliver if only we are willing to feel into it with compassion and acceptance.

    Thankya, Mastin, for putting it so well 🙂
    Brandi

  • Amazingcurveball

    I just realized when pain comes I completely to use your words disassociate. make it not relevant and unimportant as if that makes it go away. I try not to dwell on it and yet it finds it’s way to the surface days weeks months later. I find it fascinating that I can know it’s happening and yet not know how to heal?!!! so crazy to me to allow myself control on managing pain but not really understanding how to release it or heal from it. how much energy do you really give to an ache? how much is too much and when have you not given enough?!!! augh so hard so confusing. then I just settle on forget this I have laundry to do 🙁

  • This post is on point for me. I just suffered something very painful and I fell back on old habits. I escaped instead of stepping into the pain. But, I am not going to beat myself up for it because I know that is not going to help the situation. I am going to do as I always do and use it to really explore why I am experiencing so much pain from this situation. I couldn’t do it in the moment, but I can do it now. Thank you for reminding me. I hope that I can attend a Date with Destiny one day. 

  • Vivalavixen3

    how do you approach/confront pain appropriately and with meaning so that you can get something out of it and learn? 

  • Pain is so easy to avoid. Until, it inevitably comes right back around and bites you in the ass. I was diagnosed at 24 with eye cancer. After the tumor was removed and I adjusted to my new lack of vision…I ran.  How can I run from cancer? Well, it did not spread to any other parts of my body, AND I just wanted to MOVE ON! So I did. Green Juice was not even in my vocabulary. Some marijuana and alcohol intake were definitely a distraction. Even though I thought my usage was mild; when I compared myself to others. Comparision-the killer. And, another way to avoid looking at ourselves. Throughout the years I had small surgeries, but it wasn’t until my eye slowly started drifting to the left, 5 years later, that I woke up. Vanity? Yep! I had to look in the mirror and SEE that I really did have cancer. The pain seemed intolerable. I suffered for years. And then, just when I distracted myself enough and moved on AGAIN…I got cancer in my eye for my second time (2 in 10.000 cases) in a whole new spot. I was 40 years old. Knock, Knock…”Are You There Kathleen? It’s Me, God!”  It took me 16 years of distraction to wake up, go through my fears, and start SEEING the unseen: God. Now, I see that my cancer was and is a gift to….”go beyond the dance we presently perform.” Thanks for Lesli Lebeau’s quote today Mastin. It is RIGHT ON!  The Daily Commenter, Kathleen   are-you-there-kathleen-its-me-god.blogspot.com/

  • Shirley

    I tend to run away from pain, think of other things, distract. Lately I have been trying to go into it. I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and chronic migraines. I do find it really difficult to be in such pain, especially when my migraines go on for 2-3days. No one wants to be in that much pain, but it is here and there is a reason for it, not sure what that is yet. Your suggestions are always welcomed and a good idea. Thanks for sharing.

    • Laurie

      Check out “The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders”, by John E. Sarno, M.D.  It helped me.

  • Mindfulness365

    I am guilty of running.  I will now dig.  Stop and explore the pain, the madness, the drama, the fear.  I can so relate to this right now and Mastin, I thank you so graciously!

    Namaste

  • Jenapher Paul

    Wow, when you said that you too have noticed “how being “positive”
    disassociated me from the pain I was really feeling inside.”- THAT was an AHA for me! I thought I was maybe the only one who, and forgive me if I misinterpret your meaning, but tried to take the major pain I was feeling and cover it up with “false positivity”. I don’t believe that it’s easy or smart to make a quantum leap from deep pain to “La la la, everything happens for a reason.” Everytime I tried this because I thought it was what I was “supposed” to do, it felt fake, and never truly made me feel better, but digging down and communing with my pain through journaling made me have more “aha” moments and major epiphanies than trying to force myself to feel positive ever did.

  • 2yoshimi

    Mastin, when I was growing up emotions were not acceptable in my family, especially anger and fear.  So I started running…literally and I see now, figuratively.
    I became a long distance runner.  It worked for a hell of a long time., but no more. I finally had to face and deal with the anger and fear. Therapy helped. Recovery helped. You help…a lot. I’m not healed but I am getting better everyday.
    Now I swim, not to escape, but to love.

  • TDL Reader

    A few years ago for me the shizzle hit the fan…..I had 2 traumatic deaths in the family, ppl coming out of the woodworks for the inheritance part,siblings coming out of no where that I did not know about from my fathers years of sex abuse & infidelity, my domineering sister using this as an opportunity to insensitively flaunt her ‘assets’ of acceptance (look at MEEEEEE I have a HUSBAND (check) & BABIE (double check) what funeral? (LOUD) is there something going on?) and having to meet up with everyone that my father left me in their care in childhood who also metally, emotionally & physically abused me. Hmmm did I want to ‘dig through my pain?’ Hell & No – I wanted to run, run, run. I forced my way through some things – the necessary things while my mum & sister turned this into a big social & dysfunctional game for their own selves while I put myself through therapy to face my demons. I really wanted support but everyone around me appeared mistrusting & quite frankly a bit loopy. I let go of a love situation, ever have sooooo much on your plate & so much energy going into digging into your problems that u don’t feel worth much else & u don’t know where the light is gona show or why u r faced with so much. I learnt that ppl have unrealistic & high expectations of YOU, but none for themselves. I still regret turning love down but if you are juggling 10 balls and someone throws another 2 at u, I’m not going to be so hard on myself that I dropped 2 bcos I did my best. I feel like Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her, when it all falls apart, you just get back up & keep trying.

  • Reeseka31

    What I see in my own life is shoving down emotional pain or hurt not to upset someone else.  I do not like to upset many people in my life:  my mom, my dad, my husband, and my superiors at work.  When I start to speak up, many will get even more angry, and I begin to think that it is not worth it, that I should just keep my mouth shut and act happy as I ignore the pit in my stomach and knot in my throat.  As I type this, intellectually I know that this is not right, but I have such difficulty with disagreement.  

  • LOVE this Mastin! I have been facing the same thing – seeing that I stuff rather than really feel it – particularly if it is anger – that has been the hardest emotion for me to let myself feel. Lately, I have been and WOW. Really amazing and crazy to observe as  I would usually just stuff and be like, “everything is fine.” Thank you for this post! xo

  • Nelle

    I love today’s post because because this is something I struggle with on a near daily basis. I’m only a year into this journey of self-discovery so I understand that there are going to be struggles. Some more difficult to overcome than others. This is a difficult one for me because I always, in some way, run from those uncomfortable feelings. So, my question is HOW do I bring light to my darkness? How do I dig into it? Or maybe that’s not really the question I want to ask. Maybe what I need to know is WHAT Is my darkness? How do I find out what my true pain is so that I can bring it to the light and heal it??

  • Rmitch

    I was so glad to read today’s blog because so often I see people, including myself, being positive simply to cover over their pain. I believe in the power of positivity and in creating the story that works for me to move my life forward. But I don’t believe that I can jump from a trauma straight to positivity, nor would I want to do that. I believe that I have to feel my feelings. That means joy and excitement, yes, but it also means fear and sadness and, yes, even anger. If I refuse to feel them, I refuse to grow from them because I am pushing away the lesson of the situation and denying my own humanity. To be human is to feel all of the feelings. To learn from them we have to investigate them and be curious about them and allow them to be and to shape us. And to be able to do that, we have to know them, to feel them and accept them. Positivity is a wonderful thing, but not at the expense of allowing ourselves to have our human experience, even if, at times it is painful.

  • Stephbewitching

    I actually dreamt of 9/11 years before it happened. I didn’t know what it meant at the time. I had never even seen the world trade centers. But in my dream, I saw 2 planes fly into 2 tall buildings, saw them crumble, turned to the angel standing beside me and asked, “Why?”
    I was shown that the energy that created this tragedy was the same energy as Hitler- a belief in superiority and separateness. I was also shown that there was a divine plan, a crumbling of the old in order for the new to emerge and this tragedy would bring about the awareness necessary to create a catalyst for massive change.
    So, back to your question, I watched very little of the news because it just made me too sad and instead focused on writing songs of hope (I am a songwriter) and also focused on having faith and believing that my vision was true… that there was a reason and a plan and that it would all be okay.
    Thanks for your blog! You always bring me “aha moments”! 🙂

  • Barbara

    The Guessing Path, by Esther Veltheim

    It took many years of people telling me “you must read Marion Woodman’s Addiction to Perfection!” before I actually read the book. Like any addict I dismissed these well meaning friends and the notion that I could have any such addiction. After all, I was well aware of how totally imperfect I was!
    It is not that I didn’t buy Marion Woodman’s book. I bought it several times in fact, but somehow always ended up giving it away before I read it. Some twenty years after I first heard of it I sat down and read it, but its messages stayed swirling around on the surface of my psyche and really couldn’t penetrate. The addiction was so deep and so unconscious; a true addiction.Only in very recent times has it hit me what everyone was seeing in me that I could not. The word perfection had thrown me because it described a goal I was in total denial of aiming for. But one morning, after a night of strange dreams, I woke up and was struck by the stream of thoughts that were coming to me. One after another I watched them, horrified to see the persistence of so many reprimands. They were not new to me. On the contrary, I was used to the mind’s barrage of reprimands. I had just never, consciously, experienced the fear that fuelled them. I had never, consciously, seen the simple message that every single reprimand held…. “You must do nothing wrong!”As I lay there that morning, these words reverberated inside my body and all I could do was sob like a little child. And that, really, was exactly who was sobbing, the tiny, stalwart girl in me who my entire life had been terrified of doing something wrong. That is not to say I had gone out of my way to be good. On the contrary, I spent the first half of my life priding myself on being a rebel. It was the safest form of strength the little girl could find. But on that morning, the adult me was finally getting in touch with how powerfully this little girl’s fears were still coloring her life.And as I lay there watching and feeling more deeply I saw what was once a fearful vulnerable little girl in me begin to transform. Her little face became serious, her fists clenched, her mind became determined. And I watched her as she took one determined step after another. Sad but determined, she began to tread the Guessing Path…..”What is Mummy really feeling?” “Why does Daddy talk that way?” “What can I do to make everyone feel better?” “What can I do to stop him?” “What can I do to stop her?” “How can I help?” “What have I done wrong? What am I doing wrong?!” “What is wrong with me?!”And with everything inside her telling her that, “Everything wrong is my fault!” each step down the Guessing Path became more determined. And with every step, the conviction deepened, that I was fundamentally incapable of doing anything really right, useful, helpful, worthwhile or good.As I lay there that morning, I saw the Guessing Path and my journey along it stretching out the length of my life. Every single step of the way I knew with less and less doubt that “There is something wrong with me!””What am I doing wrong?” “What have I done wrong?” “Would it be wrong to do this, wrong to say that?” “Oh my goodness, I should never have done that!” “It’s my fault!” “It’s all my fault!”The further I travelled along the Guessing Path the more my doubts about myself were silenced. The Guessing Path was working its magic and I knew with more and more certainty “There is something fundamentally, irreparably so wrong with me!”Lying there, watching this journey was the first time the adult me truly felt compassion for that little girl. She was tiny, maybe four or five years old when she took that first step. Such a lively, natural, radiant little girl, finally too overwhelmed by feelings of responsibility for the pain she saw around her. She just knew it was all up to her. It was her responsibility to mend everything broken that she saw around her. She was to blame, after all!Somehow, as I finally began to understand what the addiction to perfection meant and how it had come about in me, the reprimands began to die down. They are still not fully gone. When the playful, wonderfully spontaneous little girl inside me is dismissed in any way, the little girl who grew up reprimanding herself takes over. The adult becomes beset with doubts; guessing, guessing, guessing. But now I notice the addiction more quickly. Gradually, step-by-step I feel closer to that little girl who preceded the Guessing Path.Perhaps, the adult me is finally turning her back on the goal of perfection, tracing her way back along the Guessing Path. How many more steps? Will I ever be able to jump off? Or, perhaps, it is simply that when there is no need to become anything at all anymore the Guessing Path will disappear. Who knows? I try not to guess.