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Redefining pain & triggers as touchstones to deeper intimacy

“Beneath every behavior there is a feeling.  Beneath each feeling is a need.  And when we meet that need rather than focus on the behavior, we begin to deal with the cause.  Not the symptom.”

In our intimate relationships – where our spiritual growth has the most potential for expansion – when we are faced with misunderstandings, hurt feelings or uncertainties, the accompanying discomfort and pain brings us to two options. We can close our hearts and start to self soothe, or we can sit open-hearted with the discomfort, moving toward understanding our loved one’s needs.

Most clamp down, move into protection mode and start withholding or worse, retaliating. Sometimes we go quiet and let the silent scorn do the work for us as we work ourselves into a resentment.  Either way, the poison has now made its way into our veins and has started to cloud our perception of the situation. Our hearts remain closed. 

“If resentments do not get worked through, they begin to metastasize within the body and mind. Getting to the core of the issue over time becomes more elusive and challenging.”

When working with men who are triggered in this state, the first thing we address are not tactics of reengagement, but, rather, we focus on keeping their hearts open and removing the resentment from their bodies. 

Once we’ve worked through the resentment  through embodiment, somatic and/or spiritual practices, the men find their way back into the conversation more grounded, spacious, heart-centered and more in line with an intention of addressing the underlying need of their loved one’s heart rather than proving their own case.  This is not to say that they don’t get an opportunity to express their feelings and needs, but they do have more space to hear, feel and empathize with their counterpart’s underlying needs verses taking what happened (the behavior) personally. They have chosen to not perpetuate a dysfunctional relationship dynamic.  It is from this space that they can lead and see how they can serve their loved one’s heart.  It is only from this point that I advise them to re-engage.  

If resentments do not get worked through, they begin to metastasize within the body and mind. Getting to the core of the issue over time becomes more elusive and challenging. We start feeling disconnected from ourselves and wonder, “why am I feeling depressed?”  At this point, in search of relief, we may start acting in ways counter to bringing us closer to our loved ones and to ourselves. We turn to porn, the internet, drink, smoke, spend, over-eat, leak energy outside the container of the relationship, or whatever “your thing” may be. 

That’s why in our training we work with sitting with pain – with our hearts open and in presence.  Most men have a natural resistance to this, and that’s normal of course. We redefine our relationship with pain and work on not taking behaviors personally. We work on keeping our hearts open knowing that this path is the gateway that leads not only toward our spiritual growth, but also toward deeper, more satisfying relationships.

One day your heart will take you to your Lover. One day your soul will carry you to the Beloved. Don’t get lost in your pain, know that one day your pain will become your cure. ~ Rumi

Thanks to @healingfacts for inspiring this post

Photo Credit: The Lovers I & II by Rene Magritte


  1. John on May 26, 2022 at 2:33 am

    Very eloquently and beautifully delineated! Thank you!

    I used to believe the fallacy that the more pain I could resist, the stronger I was. What an inverted thought perpetuated by the confused fearful masculine. As my heart opened, it became ever so clear that the true strength is in connecting to and feeling it all, following the echo of the experience as it moves outward and dissipates into the great mystery.

    Your words are a blessing.

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