Or at least it should be. If it’s not, then it keeps the present person in the past. When you usher that pain into the present, you set it free. What does it mean to usher? To own it. To face it, accept it, then let it become the happiness it’s meant to become.
Have you ever heard the pain in someone’s laughter? It’s ‘knowing-laughter’; most who produce this kind of response have dealt with the issue head-on and can look on it with a smile. They can smile because they persevered and survived through the pain. They grew and are the richer character for it.
When I decided to get back into martial arts some three years ago, I recall talking to my dad (he was one of the reasons I pursued martial arts in my adolescence as he was/is a martial artist himself). I recall him being excited for my decision and such, but what stuck must from the conversation was what he said about the experience: “The experience is unique; no one else can really relate unless they do it themselves. I miss it. What I miss most is the relationships. The bond was the strongest with the other martial artists because of how challenging the process was.” And he’s absolutely right. Nothing beats a shared experience, let alone an experience that tests your body, mind, and will on a regular basis. At this point I can exchange looks with other advanced students or teachers and there’s an unquestioned understanding of what we go through; this especially comes to life when we’re tasked to teach a technique to a frustrated student. We went through similar frustrations, but pushed through it, understood it, and have now mastered it.
It’s not so different with dealing with emotional pain. There’s frustration, but often no guidance or experienced council to help with the pain – unless we seek help. This begins with taking an honest inventory of one’s pain. If this is difficult, and it might be, just ask what kind of person you want to be. A person who allows fear to inform who they become? Or a person who takes practical, tangible steps to weed out the fear that attacks their character?
*I recommend watching the film Shadowlands. It best illustrates how one moves to accept yesterday’s pain and make it today’s happiness.