How to Find Your Hidden Pain

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    149 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    Two things for you to think about

    The excesses in our lives are rarely about the excesses—they’re about what is being numbed and covered up by the excesses.

    When we can’t deal with a certain pain, we compensate by compulsively distracting ourselves from that pain. If we do this long enough, we eventually become aware only of the distraction, not the pain.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    Two things for you to ask yourself

    Instead of focusing on curbing the excess—willing yourself to eat less or gamble less or be less of a crazy stalker—ask yourself what the excess is compensating for. What are you lacking that you’re trying to cover up or hide?

    The best way to approach this question is to look at what is most excessive in your life. Let’s call it ‘X’. Now, ask yourself, “What pain would I feel without X?” That’s the pain you are running from.

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    While the problems caused by excesses are obvious and notable, ask yourself, what can you do to address the underlying pain? Confront the pain and suddenly the excess becomes far more manageable.

    Promise yourself that you will do something, no matter how small, to address that underlying pain this week. Then go do it.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to stop trying to fix the people in your life. Instead, simply allow them to take responsibility for their own problems and see where it goes.

    Although doing this doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship has to end, a lot of people replied with stories of relationship breakdowns, both romantic and platonic:

    I recently ended four toxic friendships! (I know, sounds like a lot but it’s like I suddenly opened my eyes after a thousand years).

    The common pattern throughout was me giving and giving and then also giving them the benefit of the doubt way too much and trying to understand where they were coming from.

    The moment I stopped, I realized how taxing it had been for me. I am not always supposed to be doing inner work while I am hanging out with my friends, they are supposed to be my safe space. It doesn’t matter if they are intentionally hurting me or unintentionally hurting me. If I feel like I have tried enough and if there always seems to be some gap between me and them, I owe it to myself to let them go. I need to choose myself, over and over again.

    The funny thing is, once you tune into this mindset, people just start dropping off, it’s like the outer layers of the onion, they start peeling off by themselves.

    Jessica from Canada shared how stopping fixing her ex-husband liberated her:

    My whole life I was a people pleaser. I grew up in a home with addiction issues and lived most of my life in a highly anxious state. I only felt valued when I helped everyone around me and took on their baggage as my own, which made me feel important and loved.

    I recently decided to separate from my husband of 20+ years, and during those years I was constantly fixing him and supporting his emotional health, at the expense of my own. Once we split, I took a lot of time to reflect on my part in the breakdown in the marriage and saw how my fixing and constant support made it impossible for him to grow or take responsibility for himself. That’s where a lot of the resentment and anger grew.

    I committed to never give myself away like that again just so I could feel like I had value. Instead I’ve shifted to focus on fixing myself and letting others manage their own shit themselves, while still being empathetic and supportive from a distance.

    My life has changed dramatically for the better in a short period of time since shifting my mindset and it’s been liberating. I’ve noticed a few instances when the ‘old me’ would have rushed in to try to save someone close to me from themselves and instead I now listen, but don’t burden myself with others’ problems.

    To end this week’s sharing, a nugget of wisdom from Claire:

    It has taken me two marriages and a few other relationships to realize that I couldn’t fix my husbands or boyfriends and that they didn’t want my help in the first place. After years of working so hard at keeping these relationships together, I finally had to give up the fight for my own sake and my kids’. It has taken me years since to figure out that when you’re doing all the work and the other person just sits back and goes along for the ride, this is emotional abuse and disrespect. And you deserve better.

    Relationships take work but they shouldn’t suck the life out of you. They should help you grow and thrive. I have found confidence, joy and self-respect by being on my own and realizing that that is much better than being in a bad relationship.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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