As much as I wish this was true, when I am in pain – I can’t be un-pained. When I am sick, I can’t undo it.

It’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube –it doesn’t work.

Oprah has struggled with her weight for years.   Her struggles have reflected the challenges many of us have with weight loss. The lesson?  Weight loss is not an easy fix.

Similarly, if you have back pain it can be beyond difficult to deal with it. The same is true if you’ve got tendencies to be depressed, anxious, or are tired. I’ve seen this with others and speak from personal experience as well.

What I’ve learned is nothing that you probably don’t already know.

When I realize that I’m having pain of any sort, what works every time is this:  Simply noticing what’s going on in my body and my brain and taking a breath.  And asking myself what might help me feel a teeny tiny bit more comfortable.

Self kindness.

And it takes me time to surrender to being kind to myself.

Being kind to myself can feel like one more “should” in my day.  It also takes patience to be willing to ask myself how I’m feeling.  It takes even more patience to take a moment to be with what comes up.

And it’s so totally worth it.  It makes all the difference in my quality of life.

I’m working on reframing that view of kindness in small ways.   Baby steps like noticing how I’m gritting my teeth as I type – pausing, taking a breath, and letting my jaw drop as I type, inviting a yawn.  That’s kindness.  It doesn’t have to be a big deal – and it’s those small moment by moment invitations to myself that make all the difference in my pain level.

When I have less pain, I enjoy my day more.

Again, that’s a simple awareness – but not easy to do.  And also well worth the effort.

Often, by the time I think of being kind to myself, I’m in so much pain that kindness is actually my last resort.   I realize that powering through just isn’t working for me.

And I’m getting better at noticing where there may be a little window for kindness to come in.  Like icing my hands before they are so sore I can’t touch the keyboard.  Like setting the timer so I get up and stretch every hour.

And noticing how as I’m typing I resent that my hands are asking for ice again.  I just did that!  And, taking a breath – telling myself, “I know sweetie” and grabbing the ice anyway.  Stopping – mid sentence – to invite a breath, and get some ice.

That’s kindness in action.

And when I overrule myself and don’t get the ice, well – the pain gets louder.  Like I said, I realize over and over again that when I’m feeling pain – I can’t be un-pained.  Wish it was different, just like Oprah wishes she’d solved her weight problem once and for all, and unfortunatly wishing things were different doesn’t change what’s true.

So, how can I find a way to be with what’s true which is that I’m feeling uncomfortable?

Same answer – grab the ice and breathe mindfully while I go get it gritting my teeth,  noticing how frustrating, annoying and irritating this is.  And doing it anyway.

How can you invite kindness into your life today?

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