Are Fear and Pain Making Your World Smaller and Smaller?

Trapped In A World of Pain

Do you remember as a child, when the world seemed endless, and every stone was full of possibility?
And whatever we knew of the world, was only a beginning — a glimpse of endless knowledge that we could only dream of.

What happened to that world?
It seems so far away.

Do you feel that some or all of the possibility of youth is gone?
Has your inner world become full of pain?
Has it grown small, hard, and closed?

Do you feel at the mercy of a hundred little forces that move you to act in ways that you’re not proud of?

You’re not alone.

Injury and Healing
When an area of the body is injured, it often swells to contain that damage, and accelerate healing. That swelling is a temporary protection.

If an area of skin is irritated, again and again, it can’t heal. Instead, the body builds up thick skin, a callus, in that place. The callus is stronger than regular skin, but much less sensitive. The body gives up the sensitivity, in exchange for strength.

Something similar happens with our emotions.
We suffer emotional injury.
But sadly, we’re not very good at healing emotional pain.
Many of our emotional injuries remain open wounds.

We continue to encounter situations, people, and challenges that strike at our emotional injuries, and revive or increase the pain.

Often the strongest pain comes when we face our own failures, contradictions, hypocrisy, and lies.

Unable to heal our pain, we try to hide from it.

We hide from the things that expose, and deepen our pain.
And from situations that remind us of parts of ourselves that we would like to forget.

We develop a network of mental and emotional habits which form an armor or thick skin to protect an ever-growing collection of sensitive spots.

We become harder, colder, and less sensitive.
We become less thoughtful about who we are, what is possible for us, and how we are ignoring that possibility.

As we stagger under the weight of our emotional pain, it seems sensible to build up armor against the world’s dangers, and against pain. Through the cloud of our pain, the world’s extraordinary possibility seems distant. We are ready to abandon that possibility to escape our pain.

But our armor fails us, falls away, and our sensitive spots are exposed.
We are haunted, by our contradictions and lies, and the extraordinary possibility within us.

The thicker the armor, the more we hurt when the weak spot is irritated. It feels to us like someone stuck a needle in an infected wound.

Is it any surprise, as we strike out to protect ourselves, that our emotional reactions are wild, negative, and cruel?

Beyond Pain and Comfort

As a machine is used, it inevitably collects dirt and grime.
As we grow old, arteries get clogged, and organs weaken.

And as we age, we collect limiting and destructive habits and beliefs and fears.

Someday science will learn to clean and rejuvenate our bodies. Until then, physical decay is inevitable.

But even today, the common personal decay within us that crushes possibility is not inevitable.
This decay of the spirit can be stopped, and even reversed.

But, not through hiding from the pain, and pretending that it doesn’t exist.

When we feel emotional pain, we often seek comfort.
Sometimes that comfort is the comfort of sleep — erasing every pain, and every challenge.

At other times, we are prepared to live with our pain.
But we look for another sort of comfort. We want to find meaning in that pain, or at least meaning somewhere else in our lives.

We look for meaning through relationships, children, success, community, religion, spirituality, etc.

I have to find something outside of me that seems more important than I am.
I need to find a big something that I can call myself a part of.
If I can find that meaning, then all of the pain might be worth it.

Forever Young

The search for meaning is a wonderful quest.

But is there meaning only outside me?
Where is the meaning within me?

I believe that our greatest opportunity to live a meaningful life is born when we choose possibility over pain.

The love of possibility overpowers the escape from pain.
This is the road to personal development.

Can we love the truth again?
Can we find the courage to accept what we have done with our lives so far?

Can we release an inexhaustible thirst to see where we are, and accept our pain?

When we find that thirst, the little habits of mind and heart that bind us, lose most of their power.

Opening our eyes means that we will be confronted with our personal history.
At first this is troubling, as the pain of our history seems to overshadow everything else.

We need to see clearly where we have been, so we can see where we are.

And seeing our history clearly is only a small part of what we want from clear vision.

I want to look to a place that now seems far away, at the edge of a strange world.
I want to look for the full measure of who I can be.

It may have been a long time since I was willing to see the endless possibility that lies deep within me.

My eyes may have grown weak from living in a place far away from light.
The endless light may seem blinding and frightening.

Whatever I think I am, is only a shadow of what I can be.

My inner self may seem old and weak.
But deep within me, my light and my possibility, and my ability to become someone great is forever young.

That possibility will not be denied forever.

9 comments to Are Fear and Pain Making Your World Smaller and Smaller?

  • Fear and pain do indeed shrink a person’s world. In fact, anything that causes us to narrow our focus to ‘self’ contracts our space and awareness.

    Personal development, contrary to what some may think, expands our world because we are in a better position to contribute to others.

    Nice post Joel

  • powerful article as always :)

    A good practice too would be to look in front of the mirror everyday for the next 30 days, point your finger to the reflection you see right in front of you and say these words:
    “Nothing can stop you from achieving your destiny…You will not be denied”

  • Sara

    I have been searching and searching for answers, understanding and this article really was a postive way to move on even to look at yourself in to the mirror. I’am 31 years old and my whole life I have been emotional abused. I don’t want to go and complain in this blog. I tell you what I’am 31 and I should not be stalked by my mom. the one who abused me my whole life and acts like nothing happens. Everyone is soooo different on how they heal. I just am trapped with my hurts. Been pushed to the limit by her so so many times. My father died of cancer 2 years ago. and my 2 sisters run and 2 face me al the times. Childish stuff. He was my father and not my sisters but we never thought like that. He was always riding my mothers case about what she would do to me. I have alot of learning still to do basically how to move on. This is sooo hard. I don’t know where to turn but the internet reading articles like this I loved it, it made sense. but I still hurt inside?

  • No matter what you’re age, you can remind yourself your life is full of infinite possibilities.

  • Another fantastic post Joel. Many thanks. You ad important content to the internet with your blog. Personal development has put me in line with the law of attraction and Intention which has created Abundance in my life and totally changed my life around for the better.

  • a great post, indeed. glad i found your site.

  • Jut few days ago I was talking about this with my boyfriend… He asked me why I would like to be a child again. And it is because of the feeling, that you have no problems and that the world is a happy place… As I grew, the world seemed to me more and more sad. At least I feel this way sometimes. And as I am older, I keep loosing my inner balance….

  • This is such richly laden post I can hardly decide where to start. I know from experience of both intense physical and emotional pain that to recharge our connection to possibility or to remember that great possibilities exist… it helps to do the small things that change our lives. It doesn’t have to be one great big thing. 1.) I learned to be gentle and yet firmly honest with myself. 2.) I learned not to beat up on my self for any type of pain I was experiencing….nor let anyone else beat on me. 3.) I learned to really forgive myself the way I would forgive a small innocent child….and to love myself….all of me even my pained self. 4.) I did not like the pain and did what I could to help myself, but some pains just take time. So I would acknowledge that as best I could. In doing that I felt my own courage. It takes courage to live and we sometimes forget that. Most of us have more courage than we might think. I also made the decision to encompass all of ME, even ME in pain, to embrace my humanity. I realized that my life was still whole, that I was still whole and worthy even in my pain, that being a worthy human being didn’t mean I had to be perfect or pain free. 5.) I also do not have a TV, by choice, so I spent that time doing creative things that feed my soul, such as playing the piano, writing, hot baths, gardening, resting when I could. LOTS of time in nature. I think we spend too little or no time at all in nature. Nature is wonderful for soothing emotional pain. It may take a bit for the peace to settle in but if we go each day or as often as we are able into nature, even just SIT under a tree without a book or anything, eventually the body and spirit lets down and lets go and nature starts to seep in and heal. 6.) It also helps to remind ourselves that there is no such thing as the perfect life. If we look around we will always find people who are suffering as much as we are…or worse. This can do 2 things. One we don’t feel as alone and two it can give us often needed perspective.

    You might like my post titled: Munch away LIVERS OF LIFE! at

  • Wonderful post Joel. I will come back to it and read it a few times as I am sure that there will be something new in it each time! (plus all these wonderful comments as well)

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