pain of the soul

By November 8, 2017 36 Comments

I’ve been in a hard time lately – nothing alarming, just the kind of hard time that life brings all of us.

In a recent moment, when I was thinking about what was so hard and what I could do about it, I remembered something I wrote eight years ago, something I hadn’t thought about for a long time.

I had written this: the amount of pain I experience is directly proportional to the amount I’m out of alignment with my soul.

(And I’m talking emotional pain here, not physical.)

When I first wrote this idea down, hearing it from somewhere inside me, I wondered, could that really be true? Didn’t pain happen simply because life is full of challenge and suffering and injustice, or because really bad things sometimes happen to us? Couldn’t pain just have to do with our emotional lives but really have nothing to do with the soul?

Yet when I inquire into my own pain, and work with others around theirs, I find that with pain, there is also often some soul starvation, some soul violation or denial that is at the root of the pain.

Our souls long for freedom, and oppression pains our souls.
Our souls are meant for love, and animosity and hatred pains our souls.
Our souls are meant to be treated with reverence and care, and callousness pains our souls.
When our soul doesn’t get what it needs, we feel pain.

What I find to be the miracle in this way of working with pain is that it means our pain doesn’t only teach us about the shadow side of life.

If we let it, our pain can always teach us about the light, our own inner light. Pain is always a little arrow pointing you to some unmet need of your soul. Your pain will point you to some part of your divinity that is being strangled or stamped on – by yourself or by others.

Pain can always lead you there, if you follow it to that discovery.

In my own life,
the pain of isolation tells me about the connection my soul is meant for
the pain of exhaustion and overwork tells me about the vitality and balance my soul is meant for
the pain of experiences of harassment, objectification, and abuse tell me about the free and joyful sensuality my soul is meant for

And what the soul needs, the soul is. The soul needs love and is the energy of love. The soul needs creativity and is the force of creativity. The soul needs compassion and is the spirit of compassion. So your pain not only tells you what your soul needs, it tells you what your soul is. And that tells you about what the holiest part of you is.

And so, in pain, we can ask:

What part of my soul got hurt here?
What need of soul was denied or ignored?

And as we choose where to devote our time and energies, we must keep asking:

Where is the misalignment between my life and the longings of my soul?
Where is the misalignment between our society and the needs of its members’ souls?
What can I do – small things or big things – to bring about more alignment between life and soul?



Join the discussion 36 Comments

  • I love this, yes Tara.

  • Jane Woodward says:

    This is really beautiful,I got goose bumps reading it. It is perfectly relevant for me at the moment and I feel this has come at exactly the right time. I have an important job interview tomorrow and I will bare this article in mind as I prepare for it tonight. Thank you for touching my soul eith your words.

  • Megan McAvey says:

    Beautifully said! Thank you.

  • Bernadette says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this Tara. Just what I needed to hear right now. <3

  • Antonella Pavese says:

    This is so timely, Tara. I’ve been thinkinga lot about the problem of “alignment” and how hard it is to make it clear to ourselves and others, and to understand how to make it better. My problem-solving tools are not quite effective in tackling this particular problem… Thank you.

  • Lynn Korst says:

    Tara, you put into words some feelings that are so difficult to explain. My soul is longing for all that you said. I feel where I am out of alignment. Knowing others are there too helps me feel a sense of belonging to the greater whole. Thank you for your vulnerable courage to voice this for all of us.

  • Shawn Olson says:

    In deepest gratitude.

  • Tiara says:

    Spot on, what wonderfull words did you find to say this Tara. Thank you. Right into my heart (soul)

  • Karen Bongiorno says:

    This is beautifully written, Tara and is meaningful food for thought. Thank you.

  • Jin Zhang says:

    Hang in there Tara, thanks for sharing and I am sending you tons of positive energy!

    Somebody said that happiness and sadness are both beautiful and needed. We do need to remind us about this.

    I am also reminded that a group to support and to listen is so valuable.

    A beautiful day ahead!

  • Raquelle says:

    Thank you for sharing something so deep within you and expressing it to the world. I feel so connected to you and what your are experiencing. Just reading this has opened me up and provided to me the container within myself to really dive deep and explore my own disalignment. What a blessing you are to the world.

  • This is a wonderful meditation. I know that cry of pain of an overwhelmed mother who imagines she will never again have time in her life just to sit and watch leaves fluttering on a nearby tree. And then, finally, children grow, and tasks become more routine. There will be time again for other types of creativity. Luckily, women tend to live longer than men, so they can make up for some of the “lost” childbearing years.

  • Laurie says:

    YES! YES! YES! So true! I just love this, and have been there so many times myself. Motherhood has carved me, challenged me, and become woven into my own life wisdom, a deeper wisdom that comes from walking through our own tired, exhausted, dark, love-filled, human times (soulfully!). I love your work and your deep commitment to being authentic. You have such a powerful message for women everywhere, and I have no doubt that message is being fine-tuned right now as you are living whatever you are living. Thank you, and keep on keeping on!!

  • dana baker says:

    Lovely and a really interesting point of view that I have never contemplated before. I will now though–and into the future. Thanks for sharing and I hope life gets a tad easier for you! Fill the soul 🙂

  • Very true and perfect timing as I am exploring the next phase of my business what is truly calling me vs. what I “should” do

  • Jane says:

    I can see how this applies to everyday living.
    How does this apply if you are suffering overwhelming pain like that experienced through the loss of a child?

  • Angie says:

    Great message for these times and love to share on the new hub for inner fitness . Your message is a great addition to the joi revolution for living life inside out .

  • Suzanne Schaff says:

    Wow, thank you so much, Tara, for sharing so vulnerably and authentically. Your words speak to my heart and soul. Thank you for your courage, and for sharing your heart and soul and wisdom with us.
    Hugs to you. ❤️

  • Karen says:

    Thank you for writing this! It speaks to me in such a deep way. I was in 2 car crashes in 3 weeks. They are the result of lots of soul pain. Time to heal both physically and emotionally…from deep inside. Thank you for putting into words the healing work I have before me.

  • Supremely beautiful Tara – healing IS happening because of the insight and courage of people like you.

    Thank you from New Zealand

  • Christine says:

    This is so remarkably wise and beautiful. Thank you for reflecting and then taking the time to craft these words to share, even amidst your own pain and hard work.
    I’m juggling caring for a seriously ill partner in hospital with keeping the lives of my two boys on track – so my own creative needs and drives have been pushed way to the back of the queue right now. I hadn’t felt I could even acknowledge the pain that has caused (on top off all the worry and fatigue), let alone articulate it. But you have done so beautifully.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and the bottom of the world (Australia)

  • Maria says:

    Beautiful, tender, wisely spoken from your heart, touching mine, Tara! Thank you so much!
    Yes, my pain tells me about my needs and it points to my soul, but
    I often do not want to listen to it because i am afraid that i won’t be able to do something about it to heal it. And i forget that this isn’t about doing something about it, it is about welcoming its message and embracing that quality of the soul that it points out to.

  • Sharna says:

    So beautiful Tara – thank you for your humane and raw vulnerability. You are a strong and wise soul. xo

  • Kim says:

    Thank you:)

  • kh says:

    As usual, you are leading the way for us. Maybe, then, the key is to do something about the misalignment rather than just enduring it as it widens.

  • Elaine Masterson says:

    This really resonated with me. It shone a light into part of my life I’ve been struggling with. Thank you Tara

  • Catherine says:

    I can see how this works, but sometimes you have no choice. You have to work to feed your family, however tired and harassed you are. Or you have to stay at home to look after them, and feel isolated and exhausted. Sometimes you just have to push on through, hoping one day there will be a light at the end of the tunnel and you can take care of your own needs.

  • Grace says:

    My word, how these words of yours resonated. I’ve been in a “funk” of late, not down or sad but definitely a feeling of something being misaligned. Your explanation of my soul being in pain explains this funk so well. I’ll need to dive deep with some journaling to explore more what pain my soul is really in so I can figure out how to boost myself out of this funk.

    Thank you for clarifying so beautifully what’s been going on, for me and for you. So sorry you’ve been experiencing soul pain as well.Take care. Sending ease…and peace to you.

  • Paloma says:

    Really beautiful! I love your work xxx

  • Anya says:

    Yes, thank you for your insight and wisdom and reminder here!
    I was thinking about this in regards to the pain from the loss of a loved one and was wondering if it it rings true in this regard, if it’s “applicable” to the pain of grief? And I think it is applicable because when you loose someone close to you (especially a mother) your soul is in such pain and is searching to find itself and reinvent itself, if you will. And that with that searching and trying to find itself in the world without that person, something new is discovered and unearthed – but only if you go into the pain and don’t run away from it. Thank you!

  • Tine says:

    What you write connects for me with the work of Eugene Gendlin: “Every bad feeling is potential energy toward a more right way of being if you give it space to move toward its rightness” (in “Focusing” 1978).

  • Gwen says:

    Beautifully written. This struck me: “the amount of pain I experience is directly proportional to the amount I’m out of alignment with my soul.” It explains a lot of about the last several years for me, and I heard this at the right time as I’ve emerged from this period. Thank you.

  • Nanette says:

    Thank you for this gift, Tara. Your voice soothes my soul. I’ve been receiving messages about the value of contrast over the past week, and your post anchors that expression so beautifully. I most appreciate your closing question: “What can I do – small things or big things – to bring about more alignment between life and soul?”

  • Karin says:

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    I so appreciate you taking the time to share this.
    I’ve spent a great deal of my life out of alignment with my soul, and the cost is tremendous!
    What a beautiful reminder for me to be curious about my pain, to treat is as Rumi suggests in his poem, “The Guest House”:
    “Be grateful for whoever comes,
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.”

  • Yvonne says:

    Thank you Tara! Your words are really helpful to me! It also helps me to understand our 14 year son better who is so frustrated because he has to spend his life in school and doing things he wouldn’t choose for. Pure soulpain!

  • […] Here’s the blog post from Tara Mohr that Stacy mentions sparked some insights for her: […]

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