Nov 25, 2021
5 mins read
A couple of months ago, my 5 year old son asked me a question that I immediately knew was going to light the fire for a new article. He said: "Mom, why do we feel pain?’’
To which I replied: "So that we’re protected from harm. Pain is telling us to move away from something. Imagine if you don't feel pain and you accidentally step on something sharp, you wouldn’t notice and so you'd get seriously hurt.’’
A lot of people wonder what the point of therapy is. Why is it important to talk about trauma? Why is it necessary to take the brave dive inwards? The answer is short and honest.
Everyone endures pain and suffering in life. And so you have two options: either you face the pain and follow it where it’s trying to lead you (away from) OR you spend your entire life, every single one of your endeavors, running away from it.
It’s that simple. Everyone I talk to, meet, or have a session with falls into either one of those categories. And unless you're a psychologist, therapist, or any of those ‘mind-readers,’ you really have no idea how much people lie to themselves in an attempt to outrun the pain.
To me, one of the saddest things to see is how people just get stuck in those lies for their entire lives. And, one of the most beautiful and empowering things to see is someone who grabs the pain and allows it to mold him into the great hero he is.
Let me share an example that I thought of this Friday. Wim Hoff, one of my personal heroes, is known for many of his heroic world acts, such as breaking a world record for cold immersion, another for heat exposure and flabbergasting the entire scientific world on how he taught us we can influence our nervous system! Watch it here. He is an extraordinary man that embodies strength and perseverance, which I was able to witness the moment he appeared on stage at a health event I was attending.
As soon as I went home I watched some YouTube videos on his backstory. It was horrific. The love of his life, his beloved wife, had fallen into such a deep state of depression that she committed suicide. And then, after being haunted by that pain, Wim found silence and tranquility in the ice-cold. And I, as someone who loved winter, immediately recognized how the cold has an ability to soothe pain, both internally and physically.
I remember thinking, "This is it. This is what creates heroes. A pain that is so unbearable to live with that one has no choice but to go to the end of the world to find a cure. And then one gets the honor of sharing that with people."
In my previous article called ‘’The Dark Night of the Soul’’ I talk about Joseph Campbell's monomyth, the cycle a person goes through to become a hero.
I have always thought that Joseph Campbell missed a part in this cycle. You see, Joseph describes ‘a call to adventure’ as one of the first steps in a human’s heroic journey. But I believe that something happens before that: pain. The ‘call to adventure’ is oftentimes a cure to that pain. Or maybe… just maybe, the pain itself is the call.
Some people aren't just called to adventure in a majestic and exciting way. Some feel this inner pain that is so loud and burning that you have no choice…. The pain is so unbearable that you have no other choice but to go to the end of the world to find the cure. And that cure not only heals you, but also becomes a superpower that you get to share with the rest of the world.
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
— Joseph Campbell
So what if pain is not your enemy… but an invitation to greatness? What if it’s trying to move you somewhere?
I have often wondered if some people, like Wim Hoff, are just chosen to lead these kinds of heroic lives. But then again I realize that it was their choice. They chose NOT to succumb to the pain. They grasped it, like a burning coal in their bare hands, and they turned it into something beautiful.
But none of us can do this alone… in the next chapter of his book, ‘Supernatural Aid,’ Joseph describes the importance of a mentor to help you over the threshold, into the unknown world of transformation. That is one of the things, as your mentor or therapist, I'm here for.
Here's a glimpse into what I may do during therapy:
Give you tools and build you up. To defeat the dragon you need to be strong and have the right weapons.
Make you see the grand feast that is to follow the slaying of the dragon and the prince or princess that you are saving by doing so. You see, in the stories we grew up with, the damsel in distress is just a representation of the thing we love. If there is nothing to fight for, what is the purpose of the fight?
Guide you through the epic battle, which is facing the pain and then dealing with it. This is the bravest and most rewarding thing a human being can do. It’s not for no reason that Joseph describes it as ‘’The Ordeal in the Abyss.’’ It’s a dark and deep hole, where the old you dies, and a new glorious you is born.
Be with you during the feast. You know that one friend that wants to make a party out of everything? Well, that’s me as your therapist. I have to make sure you notice how epic the battle is that you won and how much gold you looted when you did! Woop woop!
Help you discover the rest of the road, or the "happily ever after’’ or the "and then what?"
So, are you ready to discover where the pain is trying to lead you? Are you ready to become the hero you truly are? You know where to find me!
Your ally in this journey,