In life we’re all forced to undertake certain roles, each of them varying from person to person, but at least a few remaining constant amongst everyone.
One of these roles is being the protector, yes of your family and loved ones, but most importantly being the protector of you. By the time we reach early adolescence, whether at the hands of a failed, puppy-love, all-consuming romance or perhaps as the outcome of a dysfunctional family, we’ve all likely learned this lesson: protecting your heart is a priority.
This is a role that doesn’t seem to be relinquished at any point throughout the duration of our lives. It’s a constant role we must always balance with allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and open to people and situations, and it’s an art form to master (of which I, for one, am still struggling). I’ve had difficulty drawing the line when it comes to being involved with the pain of my loved ones, whether a friend or a family member, and upon the decision to exclude it from my mind, I often wonder is it moral to do so? Am I wrong for not thinking about it?
What I’ve come to realize though, is that being the protector of your own heart does not make you selfish. On the contrary, actively taking steps and mentally guarding your thoughts from hurting you is the exact opposite of selfish: it’s selfless, at least in terms of protecting your heart.
Within our skin are many different entities, after all, and they must all work together to create a functioning human – ie. you. The ego, the animal, the rational thinker, and finally, the self. The self is the heart and the soul. The true, pure self is void of all ego-like attributes and feelings of entitlement. The self is you in your purest form, free of all harmful radicals and negative emotions. The self is the heart, and the heart is fragile. The heart needs protecting.
But only you – with the help of your thinking cortex – can achieve such a feat of guarding your own soul from feeling unnecessary pain. And perhaps the first step is making the distinction (and not allowing your ego to lead you towards feelings of guilt).
What is necessary pain, and what is unnecessary pain?
Necessary pain is when a tragic or unfortunate event occurs in your immediate life, and there is simply no way around it. The only way to move forward in these circumstances is to go right through the event, and feel it in its fullest. You need to feel pain in these circumstances because this is an important process to acceptance, understanding, and eventually letting go and moving forward. Perhaps you’ve experienced the loss of a friend, family member, or lover. In these instances, it would be counterproductive and even harmful to avoid feeling the emotions of pain and loss. In these cases, feeling the pain is absolutely necessary, as terrible as it may feel and as much as you may be tempted to avoid it.
Before I go on, let me just remind all of you that I’m not a Doctor or Psychologist, and what I’m about to explain is coming purely from my own, unique experiences.
And from my experiences, I’ve learned a lot about unnecessary pain. I come from a family with many heartbreaking stories and recurring events that seem – and persist to be – rather endless. I can remember as a child always thinking, when are things going to get better?, and being constantly disappointed when they didn’t. During this stage it was incredibly difficult to distance myself from the issues that caused me pain because they were in my immediate life. That made them necessary.
But, come 18 I moved out. And guess what? For the first 5 years I continued feeling the pain as if it were still necessary, completely blind to the fact that it was now not my pain to feel. I didn’t realize that physical distance actually allowed for emotional distance, too. So I kept on feeling pain… day in and day out.
It honestly wasn’t until this past year when I moved to Europe for 6 months that I was truly able to let go, finally understanding that I could allow my own, self-derived, soulful happiness to drown out the pain that derives from circumstances within my family. (PS. it was during this time that my family – bless their souls – actually intentionally stopped sharing upsetting news with me, I suppose figuring that it was unnecessary to share).
The truth is, it was.
It was unnecessary news, and it was unnecessary pain, too. It was so unnecessary that when I returned home, I actually had this vision that things had become miraculously better – both in my life and the lives of my family members back home. At this point I realized that not much had changed at all. Except for me, and my decisions about feeling pain and guarding my heart.
Choosing Your Thoughts and Steering Clear of Unnecessary Pain
Making the decision to rid yourself of feeling unnecessary pain is a practice in the mind. First you need to define the pain in your surroundings that is not yours to feel and then you need to give yourself permission to let those things leave your mind. Again, remind yourself that this is not selfish. Setting yourself free from feeling unnecessary pain will better allow you to deal with what’s in your immediate life. That doesn’t mean that you don’t care, or that you don’t feel compassion. It just means that you’ve chosen not to think about their pain and instead focus on your happiness.
And, when you truly think about it, there couldn’t be anything more selfless.
There couldn’t be anything more selfless to your heart.