Are You Meeting the Pain or the Promise

So often we find ourselves complaining about the quality of relationships we have. We want to have top notch friendships, intimacy and family time, but are we willing to put in the time to be prepared for the promise from ourselves and others?

A number of years ago I had a major operation. I was given a morphine pump and told by the attending nurse not to let the pain get past a one or two. So I took that pump and hit it once, after several pumps I was feeling no pain. Yet interestingly enough I had to go home within the next couple of days. Oh and guess what? The pump did not go home with me, but the interesting thing was that the pain was in full effect, and no I had no pump at home with me. Yet, it was at that moment that I realize the healing had begun, by sitting in the pain for a few days, it was clear that the longer I sat, the less pain I felt. I knew I must feel the pain and move through it in order to be healed.

Most of us don’t want to feel pain especially not emotional pain. We numb it and/or eliminate it with a variety of pumps, such as alcohol, drugs, sex, and any other distractions that keep us from feeling, but it’s in the feeling that we begin to experience our healing. To advance our lives and move forward, it must be vital that we face the pain from the past or the pain we are facing presently in order to move through it.

Getting to a top notch relationship, means facing the pain or the promise. Let’s take a quick glance at three areas of relationships and see if we are meeting the Pain or the Promise. When we first meet someone, we usually meet what I term as the representative. Individuals show us their best characteristics/behaviors to represent their best selves and take added efforts to communicate with just the right words, tone and meaning. Yet within time, that representative is replaced with the individual we will experience and we begin to get to know the person and not the image. Sometimes we find that we have so much in common with the real person yet at other times we find that person might be hiding behind an enormous amount of Pain.

When we meet the Pain, we must decide if we want to work with this individual and their issues (to which we all have them) or do we want to come back later after they have had time to work on themselves (I recommend). The joy of meeting people in the space of Promise is that we find people that are not perfect, but can acknowledge their shortcomings as well as their need to work on themselves without making others responsible for their issues.

And then there are friends. I believe we would all love to have someone in our lives who gives us the freedom to be ourselves and to speak freely, but what happens when you meet, yes you guessed it, the Pain of a friend instead of the Promise in a friendship. Yet, once again, if this or these individuals are in the habit of making someone wrong for their own unresolved issues, you might find that your friendship is only hanging on by a thread and the minute something goes wrong between friends, they are quick to say hurtful things that have nothing to do with you.

It’s in these moments that someone who is working from their Promise and best selves, can say, I don’t understand why we are having this disagreement, but this friendship is too important for me to let it go. I want to work it out and see how we can grow past this problem in our friendship. After all, it’s in the struggle that we find our true success. Having a great friend is something that takes time, attention and a great amounts of forgiveness. But that’s when we are both living our truth and not making others responsible for our happiness.

And finally, there is the issue of Pain vs. Promise in our actual families. Some people are living their parent’s pain and haven’t been able to sort out their own issues. You might have a mom that is still hurting from childhood trauma and has a tendency to communicate this to you on a regular basis, without realizing it, you begin to absorb her pain by taking it on as your own. Family, especially parents, must do their due diligence not to bring their baggage to their children. It is unfair and unnecessary. The truth of the matter is we all show up with Pain and Promise; the difference between those that live out their Promise is that they are the ones that take responsibility for their lives and refuse blame others. They realize there are things in their lives they must deal with and they do their work on themselves, without excuse.

Meeting someone in the area of their Promise is the key to healthy ongoing relationships in friendships, families and with ourselves. Be honest with yourself and know you deserve to meet people at their Promise as well as you being at yours. So is it easy? Of course not. But a great philosopher Harry Potter said, “You can either do what’s easy or you can do what’s right.”