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The Nitty Gritty on Dirty Pain and How to Release It

We humans are experts at avoiding pain and discomfort. I am not talking about physical (clean) pain, but the dirty pain that can hide in the dark corners of our hearts and minds.

When I first learned the difference between clean and dirty pain, it brought much clarity to my own personal suffering. 99.9% of my suffering was in fact dirty pain and now I had context to at least question it.

Clean pain is caused by an actual event that happened. You burnt your finger, your partner broke up with you or you didn’t get the dream job you had applied for. Events that cause some physical or emotional suffering.

Dirty pain is the pain that our minds create. Loops of thought that keep us frozen with fear. Examples of dirty pain could be after a break up your mind starts to torment you. It wonders what could have been done differently? What’s wrong with you? If you were skinnier/richer/more beautiful, would they have left?

That’s dirty pain. The mental anguish and the stories that loop in our psyche after the actual event. The event could be years ago…but we still hold on ever so tight to the pain.

Dirty pain can cause depression when we mull over ways the past could have been different. It causes anxiety when we think of all the things that could happen in the future that we have little or no control over.

There are many different tools to help ease this type of suffering. For help in dissolving painful stories we conjure up, my favorite is Byron Katie’s The Work. Her free tools for The Work can be found at

Here is a quick three step tool that I use when I first realize I’m feeling anxious or depressed by the stories I am telling myself.

  1. Get clear on what you are feeling. This can be tricky as your ego likes to try and hide it from you. Get curious about the emotion behind the feeling and how you feel it in your body.

  2. Amplify the feeling, let it overtake you. Fill up your heart with it. Don’t shy away from the experience. The more I let it in, the sooner it will clear. So I sit with it. I imagine the scenario in my mind’s eye and let the feelings rush in. You’ll know when it starts to weaken…I generally feel the energy behind the emotion dissipate.

  3. Release it. You can do this any way that feels right to you. I generally sit in the emotion and imagine burning it. I sometimes envision gathering it up and releasing it to my angels or I drop it into the ground. It is a ceremonial release that I do within my own mind. After it’s done, I sometimes don’t feel 100% free, but the suffering has decreased significantly.

I hope this helps. When we don’t confront the pain we carry, it ends up causing us to numb out with food, alcohol, sex, shopping or too much Netflix! You must face the pain to learn from it and then release it.

You’ll feel lighter and freer.

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