This month, we’ve been diving deep into the depths of what causes conflict and pain in your romantic relationship, and exploring helpful questions and exercises to help you navigate yourself out of this pain.
As we wrap up the last week of March, I’d like to go a bit deeper by addressing how much pain you’re tolerating and what that means.
When I used to work in a cardiac cath lab, and a patient complained of pain, I remember the nurses asking, “on a scale of 1-10, how much pain are you feeling right now?”. The answer to this question would help them determine if the pain medication was working, or if the patient needed more.
So let me ask you…on a scale of 1-10, how much pain are you feeling in your romantic relationship?
Some people tolerate pain (physical or emotional) at a much greater degree than others. This has nothing to do with whether you’re considered weak or strong (although some people judge it that way), but it does help you gauge something very important about you and your relationship.
Tony Robbins and His Take on Pain
Tony Robbins is a world-renowned author, speaker and peak performance strategist and has helped millions of people transform their lives for the better. One of his famous quotes is: “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.“
In other words – as it relates to romantic relationships – most people will stay in an unfulfilling relationship as long as they can stand it. But when the dissatisfaction and pain of staying stuck outweighs the fear of changing or leaving that relationship, that’s when huge shifts take place.
What if You Just Ignore the Pain?
A lot of people sweep their pain under the carpet, or somehow stuff it down, and then one day find themselves exploding “out of nowhere”. That’s how we hear it anyway… “everything was fine and then she suddenly lost it”, or “he appeared to be such a nice guy, and then turned out to be a lunatic.”
Even though it’s often perceived that way, usually, that’s not the reality of what’s going on. What’s really going on is that she wasn’t fine, but she pretended that she was. Or that he had been feeling like a lunatic (enraged) on the inside, but put on the image of being a nice guy on the outside.
Think about the horrible news reports of a husband killing his kids, torturing his wife and then committing suicide. You think that just comes out of nowhere?! This is an extreme case of course, but an example of what can happen when we ignore or hide our pain.
Just because people mask their feelings doesn’t mean those feelings disappear. On the contrary, the more we dismiss the importance of our feelings, the louder and more painful they become.
When you continue to tolerate repeated acts of dishonesty and disrespect from your partner, or stay in a relationship that doesn’t feel good, you continue to cause yourself pain. You can blame your partner all you want, but that’s not going to change the fact that you feel hurt and unloved.
At some point, hurt feelings must be felt. Otherwise, we risk diminishing the quality of our lives by numbing ourselves from our feelings, or letting them build and build and build…and then unleashing them in a much more violent way than necessary.
The Benefits of Feeling Pain
The crazy thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way…we always have a choice! We get to decide in any given moment that we want to improve the quality of our lives and relationships. And we do that by being real about how we feel.
Being real about how you feel is not an act of selfishness. It’s an act of responsibility and it helps you reclaim your power. No one else is responsible for your feelings but you, and no one can ‘make you’ feel better. And vice versa…you are not responsible for other people’s feelings or ‘making them’ feel better.
Yes, we can absolutely help each other, but it’s ultimately our own responsibility to do what it takes to feel better.
You are meant to enjoy your life. You are meant to have quality relationships. And you already have within you all that you need to live your best life and be the person you want to be.
So when you dismiss your desires for a more fulfilling relationship, you are denying Life’s gifts and causing yourself pain. You have those desires for a reason. They are your internal guidance system letting you know that there’s something better in store for you.
When you ignore that internal guidance system, you end up making poor decisions, making wrong ‘turns’, and feeling lost.
But when you allow yourself to feel that pain and give yourself permission to make changes in your life, you feel empowered instead of powerless. You can then learn how to express your feelings in a healthy way and communicate those feelings to others with honesty and respect.
If you’ve been in a long-term pattern of stuffing down your feelings, or tolerating a mediocre relationship, it may not feel like you have a choice, but you do. You just need to change your perspective and give yourself permission to thrive.
A Perfect Example
Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I worked with a client who was unhappy in several areas of her life. When she finally reached her limit of pain, she was ready to make changes.
Through gaining new insights, discovering more about herself and receiving the guidance and support she needed, she made HUGE shifts in a short amount of time and dramatically improved the quality of her life. Here’s her testimonial:
“Before I met Catherine, I was not happy in several areas of my life and I felt stuck. My relationship with my long-term boyfriend was not advancing, and after 4 years together, marriage was nowhere in sight. I began doubting myself and lost my confidence. I knew I had to start making changes if I wanted to be happy, but I didn’t know where to begin. I attended Catherine’s workshop and gained the tools that I needed to begin rebuilding my self-confidence, find clarity in how to to reach my happiness, and ignite my motivation to go after what I wanted.
I felt this momentum to keep growing and decided to transition into coaching sessions with Catherine to further focus on my long-term relationship. The one to one sessions helped me uncover and work on my insecurities in this relationship, discover what I really wanted and learn how to communicate those needs, and also believe that I deserved them. The clarity I gained through this process allowed me to follow through with my actions in confidence.
My life has drastically changed and continues to advance in the direction of happiness. My long-term boyfriend and I decided to go our separate ways, but with Catherine’s support and guidance, I found strength, self-love, and confidence that a fulfilling relationship awaits me. I also went after my dream job and got it. My work is now rewarding, I feel valued by my colleagues, and I make more money. I am powerful! ~ Kristi”
This was written some time ago, and I’m happy to report that she found the fulfilling relationship that awaited her, and she continues to thrive in her job!
What About You and Your Relationship?
Depending on your level of pain on a scale of 1-10, now might be a good time to ask yourself where you’d like to be in your relationship. If you’re truly happy where you are, and not just going through the motions of pretending like you are, that’s awesome.
If you’d rather be somewhere else – whether that’s in in a more loving relationship with your partner or in a more loving relationship with yourself – please know that you’re not alone and you have the power to get there!
Next month, we’ll be talking more about how to get there. It’s all about growth! If the idea of change and growth sounds painful, just remember that growing pains are a lot more productive and life-enhancing than the pain of staying stuck.
Stay tuned for more mindful messages. Giving you helpful tips and exercises to improve the quality of your life and relationships!
With love and support,
Healthy Relationship Coach
P.S. If you have any questions about the coaching services I offer and whether or not you can benefit from them, feel free to contact me. You can also visit my testimonials page to hear what my clients are saying.