We all experience pain. But did you know our suffering can be put into one of two categories? Clean pain or dirty pain. One of which can be the unnecessary pain we feel when we create more suffering when going through a hardship. Today we talk about the difference between the two and the healthier way to experience pain for a time but not get stuck there. More resources at claudinesweeney.com and mindoverchaos.com.
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We all experience pain. But did you know our suffering can be put into one of two categories? Clean pain or dirty pain. One of which can be the unnecessary pain we feel when we create more suffering when going through a hardship. Today we talk about the difference between the two and the healthier way to experience pain for a time but not get stuck there.
This is episode 1 36 clean pain verse dirty pain. You’re listening to the Rise Up and Shine podcast with Claudine and Ashley as an empty nester and a mom with young kids, we have both shared very similar and very real struggles from chaos to coaches. We now help other women live an authentic and meaningful life. So, tune in weekly for girl talk and tips on how you too can rise up and let your light shine bright. This is the Rise Up and Shine podcast. Hello everyone welcome back today with another episode on the Rise Up and Shine podcast. Today I have a question for you, are you creating your own suffering? Do you want more peace and happiness in your life? Well today we are talking about something that we all experience, we all go through and that’s pain and we’re referring to emotional pain specifically and we are going to break it into two different categories.
Clean pain and dirty pain. So, Claudine, why don’t you give the definitions what is clean pain and dirty pain? Because this very well could be a new concept. Yes, it was for me the first time I heard it, it was defined by noted psychologist Steven Hayes, Dr steven Hayes, he came up with these two types of suffering. Clean pain and dirty pain. Clean pain is what we experience when something in the environment outside of us is hurtful or stressful and it happens to you, right? So that’s everyday life, we have things that create clean pain. Um there are a lot of events, those of us that are moms, we have small Children, middle aged Children or adult Children will experience all kinds of clean pain through that. The difference is when we allow it to become dirty pain, which now comes not from the situation or the circumstance, but from our own personal subjective thoughts about that event, whether it’s real or imagined, it really is about the stories we tell ourselves.
So, the event happens, we feel an emotion that’s kind of normal, right? We have a thought, and we feel it. The difference is dirty pain becomes when we start ruminating when we start thinking over and over about it and we create suffering for ourselves. Right? So that’s why we’re talking about today, because who wants to be stuck in that suffering? I know I don’t, I have certainly in the past many, many, many times been stuck in suffering and I’m so grateful that I’ve learned these tools that we’re going to share later today on how to get unstuck from the suffering that we create for ourselves. Yeah, I’ve been there too. Absolutely. And especially with experiencing depression and anxiety and I remember depression um specifically for me learning this concept was really eye opening because I thought, gosh, like I’m already experiencing a certain level of pain with, you know, the stage of life and just feeling like I couldn’t managed the pressures of motherhood, especially when my kids were younger, right?
And taking care of the house and being a stay at home, Mom and my husband worked very long hours and was gone 13 hours of the day and um, you know, especially doing nighttime duty when the kids were babies. And so, a lot of this uh was there was a natural pain to it. But when I realized that the clean pain and the dirty pain that, wow, I was prolonging my suffering because I wasn’t just acknowledging how I was feeling. And motherhood is hard. I think it’s very hard. I don’t know if you can say for yourself are very common. I should say to not acknowledge that motherhood is hard. I feel like for us women, we feel like we need to have it all together and we just need to, you know, chug through and not, you know, really admit that. Oh my gosh, this is hard. I sometimes I don’t know what to do and that’s okay, but we tend to shame ourselves, right? We tend to feel very guilty, and that mom guilt really just ensues. And that took over me in the younger years of my kid’s life. And so, I would get into depression because I felt like I’m failing, I’m not a good enough mom.
I always had this ideal of what it would be like and it’s not living up to that ideal and something must be wrong with me, and I’d go through this whole spiral of shameful thoughts that were very hurtful and all I was doing was that dirty pain I was suffering. I was creating that suffering. Yeah. Well, you know, I think it’s interesting that scientists have said that emotions, the life cycle of any given emotion is 90 seconds. I find that hard to believe because whenever I feel something Negative, typically it lasts a lot longer than 90 seconds. You know, I mean, I don’t think I’m the only one. But the reason is it’s the chemical process that happens in our body when we have an emotion last 90 seconds. But we continue to re trigger the emotion over and over again by our thoughts. So that’s why it lasts a lot longer, right? If we get the news of something and it’s sad and it hurts, we feel it and the chemical process itself will only last 90 seconds.
But then we start adding more thoughts to it, right? Like when we hear the passing of someone we care about, then we start thinking, oh, I’m never going to see them again. We start thinking so many thoughts that create extended pain. And I’m not saying that’s wrong. We’re not saying that it’s wrong to have pain that lasts longer than 90 seconds. Clearly, then again, is when we get stuck in it. And the pain and the suffering aren’t just a passage, right? We’re passing through it, we’re processing it. It becomes a place where we get stuck in the mud. You know, our feet are stuck in the mud, we can’t grow forward. So that’s where it becomes a problem. But it’s interesting to me that any given emotional process through the body in 90 seconds. Yeah. Well, and you know, I think there’s the level of experience and pain we go through really dictates the appropriate amount of time to experience it, right? Like obviously something the passing of a loved one or a health condition or and obviously with those things, there is an appropriate duration of time right to grieve.
Uh the loss or grieve, the loss of the ideal. You know, I remember when one of my kids had a health condition and like a few years ago and I did, I felt like this grieving process, right? And like I had my ideal picture didn’t pan out and I had to grieve that. But again, we don’t want to get stuck there because when we keep the, like you said with the thoughts, the thoughts are what we’re putting meaning to. We’re putting meaning to a situation, a circumstance, something that’s factual. We put our own meaning to it. And I was even thinking of something as simple for, you know, moms probably with kids any age, my husband doesn’t help out around the house, or my husband doesn’t help discipline the kids or my husband. You know, a lot of times we can complain about our husbands, and we put these thoughts to a fact I made dinner. He did not clean the dishes. He must not care about me. He must not want to help me out. It must be all on me. I have to do everything. And we can easily spiral and create that dirty pain and then we’re suffering.
And then on top of that it causes those wet, you know, that wedge in our relationships and this can go with our kids. You know, why don’t my kids always listen to me? Why don’t they just obey the first time? Why do why don’t they keep their rooms clean? Why don’t you know, all right, when we have certain expectations and it’s not being measured up uh really cause that suffering, right? It’s like it makes the joy disappear. It makes the compassion disappear. And then were filled more with frustration or anger or resentment or bitterness and all those things that when you think about feel dirty, right? We might feel justified. But it’s prolonging that pain that we feel just in the moment. And we have a choice. You know, we have a choice to just keep putting the meaning to it and fixating on those negative thoughts that are not helping anything and not serving us or our relationships or we can choose to do, you know, to think differently. Yeah. And I like that because clean pain is really about separating the facts from the drama right from the story.
Maybe we get into drama. We know we’ve exited clean pain, right? Clean pain is also about not taking things personally. We don’t make whatever just happened about us. It’s also about not trying to read other people’s minds. Like you just said, you know, sometimes it’s like, well my husband didn’t do this, so he must not love me, or he doesn’t care. We add this whole layer of story and drama to it so we can read the other person’s mind and that creates a lot of the dirty pain. Clean pain is also not about arguing with the past, what happened and no amount of thinking about how we wish things could have been or should have been another case of shooting is going to change it. Clean pain is knowing the difference between what we can control and what we can’t control all that drama in store. If you’re in drama and story, you’re in dirty pain, you’re not in clean pain anymore. I like that. And especially those who I would even say suffer with people pleasing or codependency or who have even had traumas in their life, especially childhood, those all play a factor in those thoughts, right?
That’s one thing that I really learned that when I was becoming more aware of the meaning, I was putting two things I essentially put myself as a victim. Things are done to me, right? I would either take it personal, your tone. I take very personal or your silence. I take very personal or not answering a text or a phone call. I take very personal, right? That’s where I was living. I was creating that dirty pain and that’s because I was a people pleaser. I was codependent if you’re good, I’m good. I think I actually realized um I know I’ve shared about this on the podcast, but it really dawned on me not too long ago that that’s probably why I do this. How when I wake up early right to spend at least a half an hour with my husband in the morning. I felt like I needed that in our relationship because if I didn’t have that positive interaction with him in the morning, I would be creating that story that oh my gosh, are we connected or is everything okay between us? Like, my brain just instantly goes to the negative and create the drama, right?
And then I’ll be asking, trying to get reassurance, are you okay? We, okay? You know, But I’ll take things like, you know, if I would take that as I need to have that time with him in the morning. And but I realize it’s because it’s really protection, you know, it’s protecting my mind from going to the dirty pain and building this story. And so, it was really fascinating to me. I thought I do that with other relationships as well, right? If I don’t talk to someone for like a week or two, I feel like there must be a strain in our relationship and then I start creating, don’t worry, nothing happened. We are just our busy lives with Children. You know, kids’ activities just life happens, and I will go to, oh my gosh, no, does she care about me anymore? You know, like that’s where my brain, because of my past experiences will influence those thoughts in real time. Now build that story and prolong that suffering or create that suffering. And even when it could just be a simple conversation, hey, I’m missing you.
You know, I know life’s been really busy. Maybe we can catch up in the next week or two. Yeah. That would totally be able to stop that in the tracks, right? Because essentially what we do is we create the story and it’s not based on fact is based on our interpretation, right? Yeah. And we all have different lenses based on our experiences, our memories, our environment, our culture. You know, we look at things very differently. And so that’s why you and I we always say that our circumstances, the events and situations our lives are really neutral. It’s what we bring to it our thoughts that that creates the clean pain, the dirty made any emotion that we feel is caused by our thoughts oftentimes subconscious and that’s why we have to gain awareness to really do the healing and the truth of it is clean pain still hurts. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt when I get the news that someone I love has passed or a disappointment. Um, you know, maybe I wanted something and then didn’t get it or my Children, certainly as my Children were growing up through the teen years and early adulthood, there were some disappointments, not in them, but in some of the behaviors.
Uh, and that hurts as a mom, you see your Children making choices that you don’t want them to make, and it hurts. So clean pain isn’t about not feeling pain, you’re gonna feel it, but it can be shorter, it should be short or short lived, you don’t get stuck in it. So, pain, pain is pain. It’s gonna hurt no matter what. And um, I think about clean pain, you know, if I’m, we’ve been doing a lot of projects around the house and certainly when I’m hammering things in, I miss it Every once in a while, I hammer my, so that’s clean pain, right? It’s like, oh, that hurt. But if I were to keep doing it, if I were to keep hammering my thumb and going, well my thumb shouldn’t be there. My thumb should get out of the way. And I kept hammering it, that is like dirty pain, right? You keep indulging it and bring it to yourself, you’re doing it to yourself right now I’ve learned now I keep my thumb way out of the way and depending on the project, you know, use a clothes pin or something to hold the nail because I’ve done it one too many times. But anyway, that for me is a good um, a helpful reminder for me clean paint brushes three point Actually, why don’t we share a few practicals is to help our listeners if they are stuck in dirty pain?
Absolutely. So, the first one allow yourself to feel the clean pain. What we tend to do our brains do not want to feel pain, right? We avoid pain, pleasure. So, we try to numb. We try to avoid; we deny we cope we all the things because we don’t like to feel the negative pain. Um, come in the form of social media or just binging your favorite shows for a long time, Right? Um, avoiding social outings, withdrawing, be eating, drinking shopping so many different things. Yeah. Cause us to ignore the pain and not allow it, allow us to feel it. And when we don’t, that also can actually prolong it. Right? I mean that can prolong our suffering is by pushing it aside because it doesn’t go away. It just simmers until eventually it explodes. It needs to come out somehow. So, if we do not allow ourselves to feel it.
Like I always encourage my clients to at any mom allow yourself to feel the pain to feel the discomfort. Whatever emotion is coming up, especially if it’s not a good time to have a cry, schedule it. Yes, I have had to schedule some cries and I needed it. Our bodies need that physical release when we are experiencing the clean pain to allow us to kind of get our bearings together. And okay, we could do this, I can move forward now, you know, but again, just depending on the situation, there’s an appropriate amount of time, right? Don’t be too much in a rush and try not to let it take on too long, especially for the smaller the smaller things. So, allowing yourself to feel the pain is so, so important. So important. Yeah, it’s so true. And when we resist it, we prolong our suffering. That’s a great point and we do, right? I don’t think most of us are trained to feel our emotions, you know keep going.
Yeah, so true. Well, the second practical is really gain awareness of your thoughts. You know, our thoughts obviously impact how we feel. They create our emotions. So, it’s really important to just sit for a minute and think, what am I thinking? You know, this is an area where we can let go of expectations, right? If we have expectations on others so many times and I’ve talked about this in my book, but unmet expectations create so much pain, right? Because then we add story to that. And sometimes we haven’t even communicated our expectation, but we expected it why it’s called an expectation and the other person doesn’t meet it know all of a sudden, we add drama and story to it. And we have created in ourselves some suffering some pain and suffering some dirty pain. So, letting go of expectations, which is different than setting boundaries and we’ve done episodes on that, but let go of expectations.
The other one i don’t overthink or ruminate, you know, our thoughts again, we keep thinking over and over and over like a cow chewing its cud, right? We have these negative thoughts or thoughts that create pain in us, and we keep thinking them over and over this year. My motto has been don’t overthink that’s been my new motto for this year. It is working phenomenally. Let me just tell you there are times where things I have painful thoughts or disappointing thoughts and I’m like, nope, not going to think about it, not going to overthink usually things I don’t have control over or it’s over something that thinking negatively about isn’t going to fix anyway, so why get stuck in there. I’m like, nope, I’m gonna think about something that’s going to help me feel better. So, stop overthinking my friends don’t overthink. And another one, thoughts we have to be really careful of as women is the self-criticism. And we’ve also done a whole episode on that, on the mean girl in our head, but we can be so self-critical about ourselves, you know earlier were sharing about moms and how hard it can be for moms, and we don’t talk about that and you’re right.
And I just thought it was just me when my kids were younger, I was just in survival mode and I’m like, wow, everyone else has got this and they’re doing so well at it. And I was barely keeping my head over water, and I thought, well something’s really wrong with me or I’m just not a good mom. I mean, I know we’re not the only two. I know there’s so many other women, but to really again not be self-critical, show we compassion, show ourselves. Grace really goes, you know what? I know it’s not just me, even if you don’t know, we’re here to tell you it’s true. You’re not the only one. So really the self-criticism has to stop. Maybe. Yeah, Sorry. And maybe also like if you find yourself scrolling on social media and a thought immediately pops up like their house is so clean. Oh my gosh, I need to clean the house or while their kids are so clean. I need to clean my kids or, you know, like if we instantly start comparing just be aware of that because then maybe it’s not the best time at the moment to be on social media if you’re a little bit more vulnerable because I’ve had to do that myself as well.
That perhaps now is not a good time because I’m a bit more susceptible, Maybe I’m P. M. S. Ng, maybe I just had a fight with my husband, Maybe I’m overwhelmed and exhausted, you know, so we tend to be more emotional, but if there’s certain times where you feel like those, some of those comparison thoughts are creeping in and we’re starting to criticize ourselves, just be aware of that and know that perhaps I need to put this away and focus on something that’s going to help me feel better, not worse about myself. Exactly. And I also wanted to finish off, really just add something before we move on to our next one. Being aware of our thoughts now, especially there tends to be a pattern, right? We tend to have thought patterns and so there’s usually a belief underlying the meaning we give the situation. So, a lot of it could be is I’m not good enough or that, you know, they, whoever that may be don’t care about me. Um a lot of those beliefs can stem from way back in earlier experiences of our lives.
So being aware of the thoughts that creep in and what could be one more layer under that, that’s a belief that is fueling those thoughts that you give right. And so that also is really helpful in knowing, wow, I tend to think the same thing things, you know, and that’s a common belief that I have, I’m going to explore that a little bit right, just out of curiosity and self-compassion, not judgment, but just really recognize that and just you know choose the thoughts that are going to serve you. Yeah, I mean we have that great power to choose how we think and respond to life. And I think like you just said so many times we just give in to the default way of thinking right? Because our neural pathways we’ve ground those pathways are deep and their red id and that’s our default way of thinking. And yet we do have the power to choose how we think. We do have the power to create new neural pathways. I think for me that was one of the life changing things I learned years ago that I was like wait a second, I can change all of this, I can change my life, I can change my emotions, I can change my actions all of it by the way I think and we have that power.
So, it’s a God given power. God does say be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And so, we have that power, and it is a gift and we need to utilize it Absolutely. So, the number three give it to God. Yeah. Speaking of God as being Christian women of faith, giving it to God is so crucial and I want to share the scripture because this is my theme scripture for actually, I think for the last two years it’s Isaiah 26 verse three and this is the N. L. T. Version says “you will keep in perfect peace all who trusted you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” So, this was really helpful for me especially with going through the pandemic um you know even in the beginning and doing the virtual school and just all the uncertainty, all the fears all just kind of the chaos of it all. Um and being overwhelmed with now we’re in a whole different stage doing school online.
It was this scripture was really helpful because who does not want peace? Right? We all that is a deep need of all of ours. We want to feel more peace. We want to feel more joy and what I was doing. And what many of us if not all of us do is we focus so much on the problems. It’s almost like if we worry about our problems somehow, we think we’re going to fix it right, we think it’s productive and it’s really not and it’s not creating any peace, it’s dirty pain prolonging. Um and so this scripture is really important. I just thought gosh I need to take the focus off of me and my problems you know and focus on God and I’m not saying I’m gonna ignore my problems and not try and find solutions or find the nuggets. You know, life nuggets that I can from the situation, but I need to put my first focus on God. Give all my worries, Give all my negative beliefs, all my expectations, all my control issues, all that stuff that’s not serving me in my life, I give it to God everything right with prayer and petition, give everything to God and he will give us peace of mind and I that has been so transformative and I know when I’m feeling off, I know it’s because I took my focus off of God and I started focusing again on my problems and I’m so overwhelmed and I’m so frustrated, I’m so hurt and I’m so, you know, prolonging that pain, you know, creating that dirty Yeah, such a great point.
You know, as you’re talking, I’m thinking about Jesus and that he had so many emotions, right? He felt sadness, he felt anger, he felt disappointment. There are so many examples of all the human emotions that he experienced while he was here on earth. But I cannot picture him ruminating on negative thoughts and like you said, he, he was so dependent on God and his mind, His thoughts were so fixed on God and the eternal and the divine that I don’t think he ever got stuck in dirty pain. I know he didn’t get stuck in dirty pain because he didn’t ruminate, and he knew that the one who created him that was him had all the answers and I love that because I know for myself when I feel overwhelmed or burden, I know I’ve taken I’ve taken my eyes off him. I’m like, put it all on my shoulders again. But what a great, great practical for our emotions. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And hope to do that because we feel like it needs to be tangible, right? Like I need to figure out a solution, I need to fix this problem.
I need to I need I need any um but really, it’s just like the surrender, just surrender and I cannot control anything. You know, I cannot control anyone. I can only control myself, but God, like I trust you, I have faith in you, I have hope in you. I put my hope in you that you are going to work things out for the good and he does, and he does and when you do that, he’ll you’ll feel more peace. You know, when you’re taking your eyes off of all your problems, it’s amazing. It’s really, I feel like a miraculous thing, it’s very much a miracle. It’s like God, you are so awesome. You work amazing way you work. Yes, you work. And to close us off, I’ll say one thing you did say is, you know, we can’t control anything, and we can’t control ourselves. The only thing that we really can control is our thoughts in our thinking and when we do that, that’s where our growth and happiness lies in learning how to control and manage our minds and control our thoughts and um I know that’s been what’s changed my life and that’s what you and I both coach, our clients on were really thought coaches in so many ways helping people explore their thoughts and um take ownership of their thoughts and then change them rewrite their thoughts so that they can be transformed and live lives that they dream of.
So, we hope this has been helpful. I know it’s been great for me personally, just learning the difference and learning how to navigate clean pain versus dirty pain and if you need more resources, we have them at MindOverChaos.com or ClaudineSweeney.com. And both Ashley and I offer free discovery calls where you can learn some more tips to help you directly and or find out if life coaching is a right fit for you. And those can be both found on our websites, you can schedule those calls there, so until next time, have a great, great week.
Alright everyone, thank you for joining in on our conversation today here on the Rise Up and Shine podcast. If you haven’t already, please take a second to hit that subscribe button. So, you never miss an episode and while you’re at it, share this episode with a friend who you know it can bless today if you want to visit us as well on our websites, you can catch Claudine over at ClaudineSweeney.com and Ashley at MindOverChaos.com.
Our links are in the description, we also have some free resources there for you as well. So, remember, ladies, no matter what you are facing in life, it is never too late to rise up and shine and live your best life.