Pain as a Pathway to Joy


We all experience emotional pain at times and as disheartening as it is, we don’t have to continue to suffer. Suffering means you give your power away; you feel powerless to do what needs to be done to decrease or heal the pain.

Sure, I’ve experience plenty of pain in life. Gut-wrenching, falling to the floor, horrendous pain. And, yeah, it sucks.

I’ve also witnessed others struggling with things like chronic grief, depression, illness, addiction, etc.

I mean, it doesn’t take long to look around and see that humanity needs some help. 

Masses of youth all the way to the elderly are drowning in emotional pain, and many have no idea how to swim safely to shore. They’re scared, disillusioned, restless, and feel very alone.

Now, I may not have all the answers, but I do have my experiences, strength, and hope to share.  I’ve managed to recycle intense pain (and an all-out emotional breakdown) into passion and purpose. 

And, so can you.

Emotional pain as a pathway to joy

We all want to experience unconditional love and joy.  In fact, the desire to experience these things are the primary reasons we do what we do.

Society and the media try to tell us that the latest high-tech gadget, SUV, more money, bigger house, alcohol, or that exotic vacation in Bali will bring us the ultimate fulfillment that we see; will fill that hole in the soul, but that’s hogwash.

Those things won’t. And hey, I’m the first to admit I enjoy plenty of “things”, but I understand that material possessions or traveling cannot completely fulfill or satisfy me.  I spent years and years seeking objects and people for fulfillment – stuffed lots of materialistic garbage down my throat – when I really needed to be seeking peace, joy, and contentment from within…

From God.

Of course, in my seeking gratification in external objects, I ended up falling short and oftentimes experiencing pain.  I had dreams and they were shattered. I put my faith in things that let me down. I expected too much from others. I made mistakes. I lost people I loved.  And so on.

Looking back, I see how God allowed my heart to break and my dreams to shatter, so that I might learn valuable spiritual lessons. 

Because what “I” want is not always in line with Love. With God.

So, there I was sitting in a puddle of tears, (more than once) and emotionally broken. My lover, my kids, money, material objects – nothing could fulfill that aching hole deep in my soul. That haunting feeling of being alone and disconnected always came back and sometimes with a vengeance.

I literally felt like Isaiah records in the Bible:

    Is there any hope for us? Can we be saved?
We’re all sin (ego)-infected, sin (ego)-contaminated.
    Our best efforts are grease-stained rags.
We dry up like autumn leaves—
    sin-dried, we’re blown off by the wind.

My My, What to Do?

Well, reaching “out there” to find peace and joy, or just to simply feel “good”, wasn’t doing the trick. I was walking a path that led to inner misery, and Great Spirit allowed “my world” to shatter.


So I wouldn’t and couldn’t equate peace and joy with external things.

We easily place our faith in external things to make us feel happy. We expect people to bring us joy and then when things don’t go as we planned, we experience pain. 

The lover leaves. The kids lose their rational minds. The job drains. And so on.

Sadly, too many allow such pain to immobilize them for years and years instead of inviting that pain to teach them.  Allow that pain to lead them toward healing and wholeness.

Shattered dreams come. 

Pain is experienced in life for a variety of reasons.  We’ve got wounded parents raising children and wounded lovers trying to fix each other. Just look at how codependency has infiltrated so many relationships. We look toward our mates to fulfill us. To complete us. To make us feel happy.

We lose people to addiction, anger, lies, death, etc. We grieve loss after loss.

Still, some of the most inspiring people in this world are those that have suffered a great deal of pain.  Through that pain they have discovered not only a spiritual connection with their Creator, but also their greatest gifts that they offer to add value to humanity.

Pain can be awful. I get it.  Childhood trauma happens, loved ones die, break-ups occur, family members struggle with substance abuse, we struggle with addictions of all sorts, children are molested, dreams die, etc. 

We hurt and sometimes feel like the pain is too great to bear.  We may want to give up and isolate.  We may want to numb the pain with alcohol and drugs. And many feel so utterly alone.

But listen, sacred soul.

Emotional pain can be an agent of change.

But it takes effort. It takes a journey within. It takes you throwing your hands up and saying, “My God, I can’t do this on my own.”

It’s alright to feel pain momentarily. Feel it. Really feel it in the guts of your belly. Talk about it. Offer it to the heavens in mounds of sobs.

Journal it. Poem it. Grab someone’s hand and ask them to help bear your load.

And then, learn from it. Process it. Talk to it. Let it know you’re not afraid anymore. Then, integrate it into your energetic being, so that you can free up your emotional body to feel the more joyous and peaceful feelings.

Be willing to “do the inner work” to experience emotional healing.

That may sound easy, but it rarely is simple. It takes time, effort, patience, compassion, commitment, and more. It takes you walking your very own unique emotional healing path. That could look like committing to a spiritual practice, seeing a therapist, visiting a modern-day Shaman, getting a spiritual director, educating yourself about emotional healing and applying what you learn, and so on.

But it’s worth it, dear one.

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”  Kenji Miyazawa

Yes, allow pain to be recycled so you can go on to help others in some form or fashion, even if it’s just to sit beside someone and say,

“Wow, I don’t really know what to say, but I’ve felt this way too, and I thank you so much for sharing this with me.”

Are you hurting? Are you feeling like you’ve been immobilized for so long because your heart has been broken repeatedly? Have you experienced terrible things?  Are you allowing pain to hold you back?

Are you stuck in an addiction? Alcohol? Drugs? Porn? Sex? Gambling? Food? Love?

This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where you must draw a line in the sand and say, “No effin’ more!” This is where you must stare down your pain, your trauma, your shattered heart, addictions, etc. and vow to go through them, rather than run. Rather than numb.


Because this is the path to emotional healing and true joy. The kind of joy that makes you laugh and dance for no reason other than you are breathing.

You are not your pain. Pain is an emotion and you are not your emotions. You are a divine, sacred spirit and you have a divine Creator who wants you to reflect light and love on this earth, no matter what you have been through.

Will you never feel pain again? Will life always be grand? No, silly. Life is about experiencing the whole gamut of emotions, but not getting stuck in the negative ones. 

If you simply cannot get past your pain, please seek help. There are plenty of people who have been through what you are going through that are willing to help.

There are also various paths to freedom, including counseling, 12 Step support groups, treatment centers, workshops, retreats, books, videos, and alternative or energy healing practices.

Get on YOUR path to emotional healing and freedom.


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