The Trick Is Not “Not Minding”
Gaius Mucius is at the center of this story about conquering pain. As a young Roman in the 6th Century B.C. he was captured and threatened with being burned alive. To prove his courage, he stuck his right hand into the fire until it burned, thereby losing his right hand and earning the name “Scaevola” (left-handed), becoming Gaius Mucius Scaevola.
G. Gordon Liddy famously performed this feat, as was captured in the book All The President’s Men, when Deep Throat says to Bob Woodward: I was at a party once, and, uh, Liddy put his hand over a candle, and he kept it there. He kept it right in the flame until his flesh was burned. Somebody said, “What’s the trick?” And Liddy said, “The trick is not minding.”
Oftentimes, we metaphorically hold our hand over a candle and think that the trick is not minding that it hurts. We think (read: hope) that if we pretend that we are not hurting, then the pain will become inconsequential. We will be able to wish it away. But what happens is actually the opposite. Inasmuch as we are able to push down distressing emotions, these emotions live on. They tend to harbor beneath the surface and ultimately, it takes more energy to keep them pushed down than to actually have dealt with them in the first place (read more here).
The reality is, the way to get through hurt is to actually mind. To care, to feel and to experience the hurt, pain and all of the other emotions we are feeling. This is a huge part of honoring yourself.
The next time you feel hurt, I challenge you to go through it, open and vulnerable to your own truth. Allow yourself know what the experience is like, let it move you and notice anything else it may bring up for you. Own it, embrace it and grow from it. You will feel lighter and relieved.