Stop Minimizing Your Pain! favorite_border

Conversations from the Heart - November 15th 2019

Author: Rachel Brathen

Topics: Healing

Links: Apple Podcasts / Spotify

About the Episode

Are you carrying around pain, exhaustion, or moving through life from a wounded place? Are you soldering on without giving yourself permission to feel?

In this episode, Rachel speaks about how minimizing our pain actually creates more of it, and how holding space to feel and heal wounds (large and small!) actually can expand your capacity for compassion and service. We are taught at a very young age to minimize our feelings, to act like everything is ok, and to hide from our pain.

This episode will help you to reprogram your mind and heart to actually feel your pain, get to the root of your internal wounds, and give yourself permission to process negative emotions.

Until we heal the wounds inside of us, the universe will keep creating similar situations until we consciously choose to change old patterns. Pain can be transmuted into lightness of being. When you heal your wounds, you free up emotional space in the heart for compassion and the ability to heal others.

This episode will remind you its ok to feel, help you to become more compassionate, and be of service to those who genuinely need it!

Yoga Girl 006087-min


[001:11] Hi and welcome to the world’s most exhausted episode of the Yoga Girl Podcast. I don’t know how to lead this podcast in any other way than sharing just from the heart, right off the bat, that I am maybe the most tired I have ever been. [laugh] I’m also the queen of exaggeration, so … When I say I’m the most tired I’ve ever been, someone might go, “Oh, didn’t you say that last week?” I am soooo tired, oh my god. We are on … we just finished day 20 of this yoga teacher training that I’m in the middle of right now. And right around now, like day 20, it starts to feel really long. It’s also filled with so many epiphanies and a lot of really ecstatic, wonderful, joyful moments, because we are having our graduation classes now, so our teacher trainees, who started off very tentative and nervous and never having taught before, or sometimes maybe even never having stood in front of a group before, or spoken in front of a group, you’ve done all of this work throughout the past three weeks, and now we are arriving at these graduation classes, so it’s wonderful.

[002:29] At the same time, man, I haven’t been sleeping well the past couple of nights, and I don't know if it’s the little marathon that I’ve been on over the past few months. I keep forgetting that I am still in the middle of the marathon. And I had to remind myself of that today, because I was wondering, “Why do I feel so crappy in my body?” I really feel not like that I’m sick or anything, but I feel terrible, physically, right now. And I had to remind myself, “Oh yeah, there was that moment a couple of months ago where I had an actual panic attack, like anxiety attack, in the middle of the night thinking of what was ahead. And then I had the launch of my book, I had a one-week book tour, and then back to Aruba, and then back to New York for a live podcast, and then back to Aruba, and then we went on a big tour across the entire United States for two weeks, and then back to Aruba, and then immediately started this three week, 23-day long yoga teacher training. Then I have a little 10-day or two week break … two week break I think after this? And then I have my final retreat of the year.

[003:40] So I had to remind myself today of, wait, you know, actually this tiredness that you’re feeling in your body that’s now manifesting as aches and pains, it’s not just 20 days of yoga teacher training. Because I can do that with my eyes closed. It’s the accumulation of everything that has been over the past couple of months, and the fact that I still haven’t had a break or a proper day off. So, permission, if I can ask permission, I actually like to ask permission for something like this, because it works … Permission to be a little whiney. Is it okay for me to be a little bit whiney, for me to complain just a tiny bit? I don't know if anyone else feels that way, but when I get tired, I get automatically a little whiney and a little complainy. And of course that’s not an attractive quality for any of us to have, to complain and whine. But I like to give myself permission to sort of fall into a pit of whininess whenever I need to. Feeling complainy and whiney, it’s also a feeling, right? It’s also an emotion, being exhausted, being tired, that feeling like, “Blegh!” And sometimes if we let ourselves totally simmer and marinate in that complaint, we come out on the other side feeling different.

[004:56] I was talking to one of my best friends, Jessica, today. So I’ve been sitting down a lot. We have these meditation chairs that we have at the studio, and for so many days in a row now, you would think in a yoga teacher training, leading a yoga teacher training, that I would be moving all the time. I am barely moving at all. I’m spending these days most of my time sitting in a chair lecturing, or I’m sitting in a chair writing down feedback and taking notes for every single person teaching their graduation classes. I used to think that, “Oh, I can practice and take everyone’s class,” but I’m taking so many notes I’m basically writing a little novel so that each person can leave with a huge piece of valuable, genuine feedback. So I end up sitting there writing and paying attention. And right now my neck is really stiff, I can barely turn my head side to side. My right shoulder, since I went on this book tour and signed a thousand … thousands of thousands of books, my shoulder just hasn’t recovered, so I can barely lift my right arm. It’s crazy! And my lower back is killing me, and I just feel blah. So I was venting a little bit with one of my best friends today over lunch, “Oh, I’m just having a day … It’s just like a really … it’s just a hard day for me.” She says, “Oh why? What do you mean? What are you doing today?” I said, “Oh no, I mean, you know, I’m just sitting down a lot.” Like even repeating it now I feel ridiculous. But I just shared, honestly, “I’m sitting down a lot and I’m just really tired. My body hurts. We have graduation classes today and I’m really tired.” And she goes, “Oh.” And I said, “Well, how was your day?” And she goes, “Um, well, today I had to insert a giant needle into a premature baby’s head to drain her brain of fluid, because her brain was swelling, to make sure she didn’t die.” And I went, “Oh. Okay … okay. So that was your day. Okay. Hmm.” Reality check for Rachel! [laugh] Like, immediate reality check for Rachel.

[007:04] Did I have to be responsible for a premature baby’s life at a hospital, or at a NICU today? No, I did not. Did I have to perform what sounds like an extremely sensitive and crazy procedure on a premature baby’s brain today? No. Okay. I’m having a good day! I’m actually having a very chill day. Everything is fine, all is well in my life. Reality check, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. And, you know, it’s hard to be human, that is the thing. I struggle sometimes with where is the balance between allowing ourselves to feel our feelings, so of course when we are tired I can’t compare my day with my friend who works like 16 hour shifts at a hospital. There’s different levels of tired. There’s people out there working in coal mines, working graveyard shifts in terrible places, people who don’t feel safe at work, people who are working for abusive people. There’s lots of horrible day-to-day work situations out there in the world. So remembering that, of course, gives us perspective and makes us less likely to complain. But then there’s also, you know, we get tired too. It’s okay to feel tired, it’s okay to feel exhausted. How can we find the balance between letting ourselves express and fully free up and release the emotion of those things without venturing off into the area of being ungrateful, right? Or taking our really good lives for granted.

[Commercial Break]

[010:05] We talk about this a lot also in our teacher training groups, because we do this as human beings, especially when we see real big, horrible suffering around us in this world. We minimize our own pain. And I think we learn this growing up. We learn this fairly early in life. We minimize our own pain, we are kind of told to buck up and don’t cry and move on, brush yourself off, and here we go. It’s not the end of the world. Or, you know, a lot of our parents … parents still to this day, we fall over and parents go, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. Everything is okay, everything is okay.” But maybe it wasn’t okay! Maybe when we were kids we fell and it hurt and we didn’t feel okay. But then we’re taught that we have to gloss over those emotions immediately, and we have to jump straight to, “Everything’s okay.” Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. Did your parents ever tell you that? My dad used to tell me that all the time. “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry.” Because he was uncomfortable with emotion. So, of course, hearing that our whole lives, “Everything is okay,” or, “Don’t cry,” or, “Buck up!” or you know, “Just soldier on,” it creates a very complicated relationship to expressing our emotions. It creates really complicated people.

[011:23] So we are used to, day in, day out, minimizing our own pain. And it doesn’t mean that, you know, because we fall over and we scrape, we have a little bruise or whatever, that we have to wallow in pity and disappear into an endless pit of despair because we had something minor happen, but when we feel pain, pain is there, right? There’s also the option of just pausing for a moment to acknowledge the fact that, “Ah, we just got scared. We just fell and that hurt,” you know? Or something happened, something unexpected happened in our lives. We lost a relationship, someone broke up with us, we’re experiencing heartache, we’re having a hard time. To hold space for that, acknowledge that, letting that be the way it is. And then, eventually, when gratitude comes back, we can actually feel gratitude. Or when we get back to whatever normal is, right? We’re over the hump, we can actually immerse ourselves in that being.

[012:23] And instead we just minimize all of our pain, all of the hardship that comes our way. And we get so used to minimizing our pain that we end up not sharing our hardships with other people, because we think, “Well who am I to talk about the fact that I had my heart broken when there are literal starving people out there in the world? Who am I to talk about how I’m struggling with my depression when there are people out there who have lost people to suicide, right? When there are people out there struggling with addiction. There are homeless people out there, there are wars happening, there’s atrocities taking place in every corner of the world right now, so who am I to complain about my life?

[013:02] And what I am beginning to wrap my heard around, I think, is really who are you not … Who are you to not take responsibility for your own experience? Who are you to not allow yourself to actually feel that pain to its fullest extent? And I think … Okay, stop me if I’m wrong. But I have this feeling that that’s actually how we learn compassion. It’s how we teach our children compassion. We learn how to be compassionate in this world by first being compassionate to ourselves. So, if we’re constantly glossing over our own pain, or trying to jump straight to being fine, fine, fine, then at the same time as we can appreciate other peoples’ suffering, we’re not going to actually be able to feel it. We haven’t touched the extent of our own sorrow enough so that we can actually allow our hearts to touch it in other people when it’s present in other parts of the world. So when we see those images of war or suffering or abuse or the news, all the things that are happening every day, it’s like we can register it in our minds, and in our minds our brains will go, “Oh, that’s terrible.” But we’re not going to feel it to the fullest extent in our hearts, because we don’t know how to feel pain to that fullest extent, because we haven’t allowed it. We haven’t had that experience within ourselves.

[014:34] What does that mean? I think it means we’re more likely to breeze past disasters or catastrophes and watch those things happen and taking place all around the world every day, and not feel the urge to do anything about it. We’re going to be more likely to just accept, you know, that’s the way things are, yeah. The world is a horrible place, okay. But then we’re going to feel that in our heads and not in our hearts. And anyone can tell you, who is working in the service … I was going to say service industry, not service industry, but in the world of service. Anyone who works with NGOs or who has dedicated their lives to being of service, or whoever has dedicated a lot of time or money or energy to supporting people moving through hardship, or to support organization who help people who are moving through hardship. Those people who have really dedicated their lives to that, those are all people who, to some extent, have felt deep pain at some point in their lives, who have had their hearts broken open in a million different pieces.

[015:35] And after that, we’ve had that breaking happen, it’s expanded the width of our hearts, which has allowed us to feel other peoples’ pain in a way that we couldn’t before. And that’s, somehow, the beauty of … the beauty of life giving us shit, right? The beauty of life giving us sorrow and loss and heartache and pain is that it allows us to become more passionate human beings. It sets our priorities straight. And it means the next time you see that image of a refugee or of a dead child on the news, the horrible images that we see every day, the chances are a little bit bigger that you’re going to stand up and go, “I can’t have this shit. I can’t let this be another Facebook post that I share today. I need to do something.” And that something can manifest in different ways. For some of us it’s going to mean that we perhaps feel a little big more connected to humanity as a whole, and we’re going to be more likely to look other people in the eye when we meet them. We’re going to be more likely to actually be able to listen to other people when they share their pain with us. We’re going to become one of those people who can actually move through life and navigate, and help other people navigate any kind of pain. So we don’t have to have … it’s not like we have to have been through war or abuse or these horrible atrocities, but if you’ve felt any kind of pain, for real, like really felt it in your life and you’re accustomed to that, and you know what it’s like to touch the center of your own heart, you’re going to be able to hold that for other people too. And not in a way where you’re making up for something else, right? Which some of us end up doing. We try to be the rescuer or savior of other people, or we feel like something is lacking inside of us. We never had the space to fully express whatever pain or trauma came our way, so we become hell bent in finding it and fixing it for other people. That’s not really the same thing, right? We’re trying to fill a need through other peoples’ stories. We’re trying to heal a wound through other peoples' wounds. This, what I’m talking about now, we’ve moved through pain in a true genuine way and we came out on the other side, and even though we wanted for that thing to never have happened, we would change everything. Take everything back if we could just have that horrible thing that happened not have to be that way, right? The person we lost, for them to still be alive, or whatever it is we’re moving through. Even though that’s the case, we can accept the reality of the situation. Okay. It is what it is. It was what it was. And even though it was terrible, somehow there was also a little speck of purpose there, right? Because it made me into this person who feels things now. It made me into this person that can hold feelings in a totally genuine way.

[Commercial Break]

[019:56] I feel like I’m sort of rambling through the delirium of my exhaustion right now, but I also feel like I’m speaking truth [laugh], so … [deep breath]. What I’m getting at is you are allowed to feel your feelings. You are. And that habit of minimizing your stuff, drop it. Drop it right now. That story that you tell yourself, that who are you to feel like this because there are worse things happening in the world, trust me, regardless of the trauma that you’ve been through, there is always, always going to be someone out there who has had it worse. There is going to be someone who has it worse right now. Does that give you a permission slip to just ignore what’s happening in your life? What happens with us when we ignore the pain we’re feeling, and we don’t give ourselves the space or at least step into the journey of processing what’s come our way. It makes us rigid. It makes us scared. It forces us to put up big, tall, thick walls around our hearts, because we become obsessed with fear of that sort of pain ever happening again. And then we start acting in ways that we think will protect us from ever having to experience that kind of pain.

[021:20] So we start to move through life with this big wound, this pain that we have inside of us that we never allowed ourselves to feel. And the thing about that kind of pain, that’s the bottomless pit that we’re scared to look at, right? That feeling that, “Man, if I step into this, if I open this box, I’m going to fall in and I’ll never be able to get out.” And we’re going to start relating with the world from that place of pain and from that wound. And the scary thing about that, the shitty thing about being a person who moves through life totally unconsciously, who leads with that pain or who moves through and relates from that wound is we are going to find ourselves in similar, or similarly energetic scenarios and situations again and again and again. Not saying that, you know, I don’t want to confuse this in any way with victim blaming at all. You know, we have horrible things happen to us all of the time that is totally out of our control, that’s absolutely never should have happened. Someone abused you, someone did something terrible to you, that’s on that person, right? Not on you.

[022:29] However, if we are leading or moving through life from a big wound, chances are we are going to find ourselves in similar situations because the universe is fucking intelligent! And the universe wants to create similar situations to the ones we once experienced when we didn’t have control so that we can heal now what we didn’t heal then. Right? So say you have a wound from when you were little because one of your parents abandoned you, right? You’re moving through life with this fear of abandonment, and it’s manifesting in different patterns in ever relationship you ever find yourself in. Well, chances are you are at some point in your life going to find yourself in a similar situation where you feel abandoned again. Maybe it happens all the time. Maybe you feel abandoned in your friendships, in your romantic relationships, at work you feel left out. Again and again, that abandonment is going to manifest in different ways. And it’s kind of like life is standing right behind you tapping you on the shoulder like, “Hey, hey, there’s something for you to work on here. Hey, look at this, look at this, look at this. There’s a wound here, hey, you can fix it. Hey, hey.” Because if we can find ourselves in one of those situations now, today, we can see how everything relates and connects and actually be present with that emotion, that big, big, big overwhelming fear and feeling of abandonment. And then actively choose to participate in our own lives from the present moment, not with those colored glasses of the fear of someone leaving, but just showing up totally present with everything we have here, now. We have the ability to heal now what we couldn’t heal then, we absolutely do. But we have to catch ourselves in one of those situations where we are repeating old patterns. And then we can make a different choice, you know? And sometimes we unconsciously choose people who we sort of know are going to leave us, so we are reaffirming that thing to ourselves again and again, “People always leave me.” But then we choose people who we know aren’t going to stay. Or maybe we are actually the ones who are responsible for people leaving in the first place, because we push people away. We decide, yeah, people are not going to stay anyway, so I am the first to leave. Or I create drama in my relationships that kind of forces the other person to leave. And then I don’t understand why! And then I affirm to myself again, “See, everybody leaves.” It’s so simple and so beautifully complex, this life.

[Commercial Break]

[026:24] I have the feeling right now that we have the ability in our day-to-day, in Sweden we call it like our [Swedish] … Is that a word? It’s like the Average Joe, I guess. In our average person life, you and me listening to this right now, chances are we are kind of living this comfortable life, right? We’re not starving somewhere, we’re not fleeing war or persecution. You’re listening to this podcast right now somewhere because you have a comfortable life, you have a life that allows you to take an hour of your day to listen to a podcast that you enjoy, right? You have comfort in your life. Probably you’re fairly abundant. Maybe you’re not filthy rich, but you’re probably doing okay, right? There are challenges in your life, 100%, things are hard, you might be moving through something super shitty, but all in all, you are okay. Right? There’s food on the table for you every day, there’s a roof over your head, you’re drinking clean water, you are okay.

[027:31] And what if, for all of us people, the regular day-to-day people who have a lot of blessings, but then we struggle with receiving those blessings, and we struggle with appreciating those blessings, and we struggle with minimizing our pain every day and fearing that we can’t give our pain and our struggles and our exhaustion, or whatever it is you’re moving through, we can’t give it too much space because then we’re going to appear ungrateful, and what about all of the other people that are suffering more? Well, what if we are blessed with these comfortable lives just for the very reason, or for the very sake that we can actually deal with those day-to-day things in a different way? That we can be in that very privileged position to actually hold space for our feelings and process them in real time, and not contribute to any of the toxic energy that comes out of not expressing any of the things that we feel, not adding on to that rigid, unconscious structure that’s in place that’s kind of running the world right now, at least the western world. You guys know what I’m talking about. Sorry, I’m having a hard time finding the words.

[028:43] But looking at the bigger portion of the world, the people who run this world, the politicians making really inhumane decisions every day, the racist movements that are sparking all across the world, that mean shit that happens day in, day out, right? Hurt people hurt people. People don’t purposefully exclude other people or persecute people or keep people from seeking asylum or live life with this divisive, separate attitude unless you’re totally fucking hurting, unless you’re so afraid to be here, right? There is something fundamentally wrong. And I could go as far as to say that most of that pain, most of that really rigid energy that’s causing so many people pain today comes form people being little children that weren’t seen at some point in their lives. Kids that were born good, just like you, just like me, just like our kids, born filled with light, born looking for love, and then ended up in circumstances where they couldn’t receive it, right? Where they didn’t have enough. Or maybe they were told again and again to not cry, to not feel, that it’s not okay to be soft, that you have to be hard, that you have to be strong, that you have to soldier on, and that no matter what kind of pain you’re experiencing, you can’t show that shit. It’s not safe to feel, it’s not safe to soften, it’s not safe to be vulnerable, that’s why I have to toughen up. And then we spend a lifetime hardening that outer shell, solidifying these super rigid ideas we have of the world, listening to other people, parents, influences telling us that the world is a dangerous place, that we have to watch out for certain people. And then all of the sudden we grow old and then we’re spewing that shit out into the world instead of coming about it the other way, making this world a softer, more inclusive place.

[030:34] So what if you, right now, in your life, giving yourself the space to feel what you’re feeling, to give yourself permission … permission to complain. And not complain, you know, like let yourself fall into a pit of complaining that you never get out of. No. But letting yourself feel tired when you’re tired. Acknowledging that you’re exhausted. Man, your kids, they scream all day, it’s fucking exhausting. My kid at least, she’s exhausting right now. You have a lot of blessings. You also have things that are challenging in your life, right? Large and small. And what if all of those challenges, if we allowed ourselves to sit with them, if we allowed ourselves to acknowledge the pain we’re feeling, even though it’s not the pain that could be compared to someone being homeless, but it’s pain. It could be old pain, it could be new pain. Pain is pain. And then by sitting with that pain, by processing that pain, by talking about that pain, huge one! By sharing it … letting some of it go. By sharing it, transmuting it into something else and be able to release some of that weight, some of that rigidness, some of that tension that so many of us carry every fucking day of our lives.

[031:55] And then with time we become light. Lighter. We feel more free in our hearts. We’ll have more space in our hearts that will be freed up for actual genuine compassion. And we can become the kinds of people who are not so wrapped up in the little box of our day-to-day lives. Because it becomes really hard to keep life together when we’re bursting at the seams with the tension of all of the emotion that we haven’t felt for our entire lives. It becomes really hard to look out into the world and do good things if we’re exploding, right? We can barely keep our shit together because it’s too much to hold. It’s fucking exhausting to walk through life that way. So what if by doing it the other way, by letting ourselves … cutting ourselves some slack, giving yourself permission to be human, to be the way you are, to feel what you’re feeling, you become a better person. And what if with time you become the kind of person who doesn’t just talk about wanting to change the world, doesn’t just share on Facebook when he sees something terrible happening, but that stands up, walks out into the world and fucking does something about it. Really, and I mean really, does something about it. In your day-to-day life, when you come across people who need kindness, where you dedicate time and energy and money to being of service in different ways, to support organization who are doing great work in this world, to actively take the uncomfortable conversations that have to be had at the dinner table, at work, at the bus stop, to challenge those ideas that are so old and so rigid and that are contributing to so much separation and pain in this world, to actually take the fight. Man! What if the work you’re doing right now by listening to this podcast is part of your contribution to this world?

[033:50] [deep breath] Permission to feel. Permission to be tired. Permission to complain. And then brush yourself off, lift your gaze, look around, and look at the world and use the space you have freed up inside of yourself to do something genuinely beautiful for people who need it. At least that’s my plan. That’s my literal life plan. That’s my literal life plan! For me to do enough work on myself to process enough of my old wounds and trauma and pain so that I can have infinite space and really get to the max potential of the compassion I can hold in my heart, to really spark me to take enough action to feel like when I die, I made a difference in this world. I changed someone’s life. I made this world a better place. That’s my goal. [laugh] That’s my goal. It feels really big, it also feels so simple at the same time.

[034:59] So I want to thank you for listening to this delirious, tired, but also maybe genius podcast. I’m not sure, I think I’ll have to listen back some other day to know for sure. But I love you like crazy. You deserve a break, you deserve all the love. You also deserve to take action and be of service for other people. So let’s go do that together. If you want, you can join our community board on We have a lot of different initiatives to take action for people in need right over there. So community board on It’s free, everyone can join. I love you, and I’ll see you next week.

[End of Episode]