The Purpose of Pain & The 4 Types (& how to transmute pain to progress)

I recently attended a Network Spinal seminar to enhance my skills as a practitioner. In that seminar, we discussed in depth the purpose of pain, the 4 types of pain, and how to begin to support our clients in learning how to transmute pain to meaningful progress. 

What we learned was so valuable I couldn’t help but share it with our Inspire community. 

What IS the purpose of PAIN anyway? 

Before we get into the 4 types of pain we all experience as human beings, it’s important to recognize that pain does in fact have a purpose no matter how detrimental it can seem at times. 

According to Dr. Donny Epistein and his research at EpiEnergetics, pain serves in a multitude of ways. Pain serves as an invitation and as a catalyst to take new action in our lives. It wakes us up to what is no longer serving as well as invites us into aligned actions, beliefs, behaviors, and perceptions. Pain is a non-ordinary (potentially extra-ordinary) experience that shifts us out of an “ordinary” state or status quo in our current reality. 

Think of it this way: if we continue to do the same thing over and over again, why should we expect different results? 

What worked in the past may not work for a new reality that’s expanding and waiting to be expressed within us. Whether it’s your health or career, a relationship or way of thinking, pain can be a powerful way the body communicates with us to let us know it’s time to make change now….that is…if we listen (more to come on this later). 

However, many of us have been conditioned in our fast-paced culture to ignore pain. There seems to be a pill, potion, or lotion for every ailment in modern society. The questions I ask clients when they first start care at my office are, “What if your pain was trying to tell you something? What if your pain had a purpose and it was intelligent? What do you think your pain is trying to tell you about your life? What if you could be in a more coherent relationship with your pain instead of avoiding it all the time?”

Avoidance of something often leads to it’s persistence. 

So I pose those same questions to you regardless of where you’re at on your personal journey towards wholeness. Let’s look a little deeper at the 4 types of pain and how to begin to transmute pain into progress. 

The 4 Types of Pain

1.  The Pain of Avoiding Pain. 

Avoidance of something often leads to it’s persistence. 

I know that’s hard to admit at times, but this mantra is equivalent to saying, “what you resist, persists.” If pain has a purpose in your body, then it’s wise to listen to that communication signal. Another great metaphor is in relationships, whether personal or professional. We all know when things aren’t going smoothly between people, there is often something brewing that is begging to be talked about. While clear communication can lead to higher levels of conflict resolution, we’re human. We avoid that which can seem challenging or perceive there to be more pain involved, when in fact the act of being with that pain can help you gain more clarity on future action steps. This can look like having that difficult conversation with your partner or addressing something challenging with your boss at work.

You can begin to transmute this type of pain by connecting with that area of your life and really asking for wisdom from the pain itself. This can look like inner self talk, journaling, or even breathwork with a part of your body that is expressing pain. You can refer to my free videos on this type of body-breathwork practice here. Surrendering into the experience and acknowledging that pain exists allows change to be much more effortless. 

2. The Pain of Not Being Able to Manage One’s Experience

Perfectionism is an illusion.

This is what we call the “plate spinner” or that archetype we sometimes embody when trying to do it all and keep it all together. This type of pain can stem from the need to control life the way it is versus allowing something to unravel so something new can emerge. I’m not saying you need to let your life get “out of control.” However, sometimes our body, mind, and life calls for a bit of instability to energize us into the next level. I see this often in moms or entrepreneurs where they perceive life has to be perfect when on the inside, their body is breaking down and screaming at them. 

You can begin to transmute this type of pain by practicing non-ordinary, non-linear experiences. What does that mean? This would look like making some sound or organic movements while doing breathwork. Let yourself unravel a bit and see what wisdom emerges. It’s OK - you’re human (which also means you’re part animal). Let yourself get a little wild from time to time in your body through sound, movement, and breathwork. See what happens on the other side. 

3. The Pain of Not Making Enough Progress Fast Enough 

Time is a construct of the human mind, not reality. 

OOFTA. Let that sink in. As an entrepreneur, high achiever, and recovering perfectionist, this type of pain hits home for me. Have you ever found that the more you try to collapse time and “make shit happen” the more resistance you feel? While working hard for your goals and purpose can serve, I promise you there is a much more efficient, effective way. 

This pain stems from being out of touch with the divine perfection of the current moment. In this type, we are constantly comparing ourselves to a future self or another person we admire who we perceive is “further along” than us. 

You can begin to transmute this pain by distilling down what traits or characteristics you perceive you don’t have yet (whether it’s within your future self or others). Once you identify such traits, start to look at where and in what formation you already possess those traits, characteristics, or qualities in your life. Even if it’s at a micro-scale, you can start to own the traits of the greats, as my mentor Dr. John Demartini teaches.

4. The Pain of Not Knowing Your Gifts, Not Having Your Gifts Received, or Not Accepting Others, Situations, or Experiences as Gifts.

What would it look like to perceive every life experience as ON the way, not IN the way?

This type of pain is what we refer to as SOUL pain. While this pain can be intense, the power of transmuting this pain has exponential benefits. When you can start to perceive all people, experiences, and life circumstances as a lesson, life becomes much more effortless. You see the serendipity in all things. You perceive life working FOR you rather than against you.

We all have a desire for our gifts to be known and received. And in return, we all have a desire to receive the gifts of others on this planet. This is the dance of giving and receiving without attachment to outcomes, but experiencing life for what it is.

You can begin to transmute this pain by recognizing what thoughts, actions, and behaviors really light up your soul. If money were no issue and your basic needs were met, what would you be naturally inspired to do on a daily basis without external motivation? Is it writing? Reading? Teaching? Business development? Speaking on health? Mentoring kids? Dig deeper for this one. When you begin to find your own authentic gifts, naturally you will start to experience the gifts of others around you.

Life is one big, giant lesson. 

I hope these shifts in how you see pain serve you well in your personal journey of healing and wholeness.

AND if you desire more mentorship on crafting a vision and mission that works for YOU (without the fluff and based on science), then I invite you to attend our monthly Inspire Co. Community and Connection Call. 

We meet on the 4th Tuesday of every month from 7-8pm CST (subject to change). Membership at this time for founding members is only $22 per month and we promise you’ll get that value and SO much more.

Join the community here:

Yours in making progress,

Dr. Mel and The Inspire Team 

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