How To Learn From Your Pain

Blog PostsAshley Stahl

I was 19 years old. It was my sophomore year of college.

Everything in my life was “perfect”. I had amazing friends, a busy love life, interesting classes, plans for a future that excited me. What more could I ask for?

Nothing, it seemed…Until one March weekend when I visited my older sister at her home a few hours away. We were getting ready for a comedy show, and as I walked into her bathroom to borrow her hairbrush, I caught her doing drugs.

I stood there in the doorway, feeling paralyzed as I stared at the events occurring in front of me. It felt like every bone in my body had disappeared.

My entire perfect life seemed to fall down around me, and I stood there in a puddle of illusions.

My sister is two decades my senior, and she always seemed “off” to people, but until that weekend, I had no idea that drugs were such a big part of her life.

I spent the following two years of college shuttling her in and out of different rehab programs, trying desperately to save her while also mourning the death of who I thought she was.

My grades slipped. My friendships shifted. My plans went dark. It was hell.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that this experience—this pain— was serving me.

You know the saying, “pain is weakness leaving the body?” Well, I understand it now. At the time, the pain was a tool for awakening, but I would later use it as a gateway into the world of personal development, and I would later use it to change lives.

Throughout the process of “waking up”, I heard whispers inside of myself. They told me that I was supposed to help people. They told me I was supposed to inspire people.

I didn’t listen to them…Those whispers sounded too cheesy and unemployable. They sounded like an empty bank account.

Help people? Get paid to change lives? That only happens if you’re Oprah.

But here’s the thing about pain – be it in your career, in your family or in your health—it will strip you of your stories. Your pain will break you down into the most raw version of yourself. Your pain will unforgivingly cast aside the complexities of your life and throw you in front of the mirror.

Your pain will whisper to you and if you listen, it will move you forward.

All those lies I told myself about never being able to inspire people or to make a career out of helping people? They shriveled up and disappeared like dust when I started tuning into the pain…I learned so much about myself through this experience, and it unlocked a deeper purpose in my life to help people.

The moment I decided to trust this intelligence that holds the sky and the stars in place at night was the moment I began trusting those whispers.

I trusted the pain. And now, as I stare into the eyes of my clients as we change their lives together, I say inside of myself:

“Thank you, pain. Thanks for waking me up.”

What’s your pain telling you? How is it serving you?

No one leaves this world unscathed. Your pain is a vehicle towards your purpose…if you let it take you there.

So, tune into it. Use it to wake up.

It’s a gift.

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