Clean Pain, Dirty Pain | Ep #38

Pain is a natural part of life. We all experience loss, grief, and transitions. Suffering, however, is optional. In this episode you’ll learn the difference between the natural pain that comes with life events, and suffering that comes from our thoughts about those events.

A great predictor of the experience of one’s life is how well they learn to manage their mind around their circumstances. The more the mind is kept in check, the more peaceful life will be.

In this episode, you’ll have an understanding of what kinds of suffering we cause ourselves, why we do it, and how to clean up your thinking to have a more peaceful experience with life.

Episode Transcript

I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal From Infidelity podcast,
episode number 38; Clean Pain, Dirty Pain.

Hello, and welcome to the Heal From Infidelity podcast. For courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouses betrayal, but to become the
boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves ever.
If you know, there’s more freedom than the life you’re currently living,
but don’t quite know how to get there. You are in the right place. Stick
around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks off. Is
it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host, Andrea
Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

Hello. Hello. How is everybody? This week, I got to hear from more of you
in emails and Facebook messages, and I love it. I love hearing from you. I
love hearing about your life. I love hearing about what’s going on with
you. I love knowing who my listeners are. So thank you for reaching out.
Also, thank you so much for taking the time to review my podcast. Thank you
so much. I love seeing those come in. It matters because it moves me up in
the charts so that when people go look for help around infidelity, mine
pops up, and then they get help. Right? So thank you. If you haven’t rated
it yet, go do it. Thank you. I sincerely appreciate it.

Okay, so today we’re going to talk about a concept called Clean Pain, Dirty
Pain. This might be a shorter episode. It’s just a concept I want to teach
you that I want you to think about as you watch your brain, as you think
about where your brain goes, where you spend time, what you think about,
what your experience with your thoughts is like. Okay. So to start out, I’m
going to tell you a story. All right. I’m going to tell you a story about
when I was in eighth grade. I had just about started eighth grade. It was
the last week before school started, and I went for a bike ride, and I was
hauling it down this hill. I was just all by myself, going down this hill,
that was gravel. I pushed one break and not the other. One break on the
right, not the one on the left, and so my front brake stopped and the back
brake did not, and so the bike flew the back tire over the front. It
flipped me over and it went flying down this gravel hill on my face.

Okay, I lived out in the country in Oregon. Nobody saw it. I was laying
there on the road alone. Fortunately, a car happened to drive by, and this
high school kid picked me up and drove me home, which I very much
appreciated. I ended up getting a bunch of stitches. I had gravel up in my
jawbone that they had to pull out. They told me that they thought that I
was going to have to have plastic surgery. In the end, I did not. In the
end, I had no plastic surgery. It healed really quickly, all as well. I
have a tiny scar on my chin. That’s it, anyway.

Okay. So I was sad that my bike was destroyed, because it was, I was sad
that my face was destroyed, because it was. It was really beat up. I was in
pain, right? Physical pain. Now where I could have created a whole lot of
emotional pain for myself is if I would have told myself a story around the
accident that happened like, “You idiot. Why were you going so fast down
that hill? Why did you not think to push both brakes? Why did you do this?
Why didn’t you do that?” It would be like adding insult to injury. Adding
the initial pain of like my face, meeting the road with insulting myself,
berating myself, making myself shrink and feel small for this accident, who
was in accident. Okay.

Now, Clean Pain, Dirty Pain. Clean pain is the unavoidable pain that comes
with living in this life. It comes as a necessary part of moving through
life experiences. Okay. Some examples of clean pain or some of these
experiences that we can feel clean pain about are breakups, death, a job
loss, loss of health, it’s like a natural flow. It is necessary to moving
forward. It’s part of nature. So when you think about the seasons, in the
autumn time, the leaves fall off the trees. In the winter time, everything
dies. It’s kind of bleak and sad, right? Then, in the springtime, is space
for rebirth. Our allowance of clean pain is doing the same thing for us. It
is like a cleansing experience. It is allowing ourselves to move forward so
we can be ready for the next season. Although temporarily uncomfortable,
there is a cleansing effect to it.

Dirty pain is where we use our thoughts to create suffering. You had the
initial thing that you maybe felt some clean pain about, and then we replay
it over and over. We take that initial circumstance that we had the initial
clean pain about, and we tell ourselves a story about it. Sometimes quite
an elaborate story, right? Then we do that over and over, and it’s
basically like punishing ourselves over and over and over. It’s like
picking out a wound and making it bleed over and over. What are some of the
ways we do this? We do this by ruminating about past events. We do this by
creating problems that have not yet happened in the future. We do this by
replaying things over and over.

Now, we all do this to some extent. None of us are exempt from it because
we have human brains that try to make meaning of things, right? But
oftentimes the meaning that we attach to things can be quite painful. We
want to make sense of something and so we attach a meaning to it, and it
can be very hurtful to us. The good news is that the more awareness of it
you have, the easier it can become to master your thinking and manage your
emotions. I’m going to give you some examples. Okay? With real clients,
either current clients are ones that I have worked with in the past. Okay?

One of my clients had a situation where she had real clear evidence in her
hand, the circumstance of real evidence in her hand of some things that her
spouse is involved in and he continued to lie. Now clean pain may be the
awareness that you got a choice to make. That your marriage may end. That
you may have some difficulty ahead. If the decision is made to leave, you
may feel some grief at the ending of your marriage. Now where dirty pain
comes in, is where we dig up all the meanings of the circumstance of him
lying and making it mean that, “He certainly just didn’t care enough about
me to tell me the truth. If he cared enough about me, if he cared enough
about the family, he would tell me the truth. I must just be not so
significant or he would be telling me the truth.”

Let’s look at another idea or another example. In this example, the husband
decides to end the marriage. Clean pain understands that sometimes
marriages and relationships and sometimes people choose things because they
want them, just because they want them. Clean pain knows that beginnings
and endings are part of the natural flow of life, as our birth and death.
Clean pain accepts these truths without making them mean anything other
than what they are. Part of the natural flow of life.

Dirty pain makes it mean, “I failed. I’m a failure. He doesn’t want me. I’m
not good enough. If I were better, he would’ve chosen me. I’m a failure
because we got divorced. I couldn’t keep the marriage together. I’m a
failure.” These thoughts create intense suffering. Suffering is optional.
Clean pain is necessary to move forward. Suffering is optional. Suffering
is happening when we pile on meanings that create painful emotions inside
of us. We are creating it. Let me give you another example.

Let’s say the circumstances that infidelity occurred in your marriage two
years ago, some sort of betrayal. Okay. Clean pain initially felt some at
the loss of the marriage that was. You’ve heard me say before, that you can
have many relationships with the same person. This is what I’m talking
about here. You might grieve the naivety or the innocence or whatever of
marriage, number one, but that’s it. You’re moving forward, but to marriage
number two with the same person. Okay. I’m not talking about in a
remarriage. I’m talking about with the same person. Now Clean pain is
allowing for those feelings. It’s this transition into this new marriage,
new way of being with this person. Dirty pain says, “I can’t ever really
trust him again. I just can’t believe he did that in the first place. If he
cared enough, he never would’ve done it. I can’t stop thinking about her.”

It’s reliving it over and over, and even though initially at the very
beginning, you might have been victimized by his actions. You are making
yourself a victim over and over again by taking yourself back to that place
and re-inflicting pain upon you, even though it’s not currently happening.
It’s creating new, fresh, raw pain from a past experience. So how do you
know, how do you know the difference? The biggest difference in how is, how
it feels in your body? How does it feel? Clean pain, although
uncomfortable, feels grounded. It feels clean. There are not layers and
layers of emotions stacked on top of it. It feels cleansing. There’s a
lightness to it, even though it might feel heavy. I don’t know if that
makes sense, but it’s like, there’s this purity in it of just recognizing
that it’s part of life.

Dirty pain is often stacked with lots of emotion. It’s often stacked with
many thoughts. It’s often ruminating about the past, obsessing about the
future, definitely not focused on what is present. Clean pain’s very
present. It’s very present to what is. Does it feel grounded or do you feel
like you have to shrink? Do you feel like you need to hide? Shrinking and
hiding, it’s probably not clean pain, feeling small and insignificant, not
clean pain. Clean pain does not cause these emotions. So how do you work
through this? I’ll tell you. First of all, you learn to practice sorting
through, separating out what are the facts and, “What are the thoughts that
I’m having about the facts?” Separating it out, write it down, make it
boring. “He said these words. He did not do this. I did this.” Make it
factual, very, very boring, factual. Okay.

The thoughts is, where we create all the drama. So you’re looking for what
you’re thinking. What are your thoughts about it? What are the thoughts
that you keep rehearsing? Get them out of your head and onto paper. When
you think that thought, how do you feel? Like I said, your feelings are
such clues to what kind of pain you’re causing because if it’s a feeling
that is driving you to take a certain action, that’s causing a negative
effect. That’s coming from dirty pain. If it’s a feeling that might be
uncomfortable, that’s driving you to making space for yourself, to loving
yourself, to holding yourself, to caring for yourself. You’re going to
create a loving result for you. It’s going to feel like love, not like
punching yourself in the face. Okay?

So practice separating those out. “What is factual? What are the facts, and
what am I making the facts mean? How am I using my thoughts to create
pain?” The more you practice this, the more you’re able to use this, and
practice this skill, learn the skill. The quicker you will be able to draw
boundaries around where you are willing to let your mind go. It looks like
this. “I know where this leads. It never ends well, I never find a solution
that suddenly makes sense or that feels good when I go down this path. It
never ends well to think I must not be enough. It never takes me anywhere
useful or that I’m somehow not up to par.” So you are being bossy. You are
being the parent of your toddler brain and telling your brain what to think
and what not to think. You are setting boundaries for yourself.

If you need help with boundaries, you can go back and listen to last week’s
episode, all about boundaries. That’s what I talked about. That is all I
have for you today. This is a little bit of a shorter one, like I said, but
I challenge you to look around, pay attention. What’s pain in your life
that needs to be processed. That needs to be allowed. That needs to be
felt, and what is created in your mind that is causing suffering? Most
things are the latter. Most things are dirty pain. Okay? All right, my
friends. Thank you so much. Love you all. And I will see you next week.

Thank you for listening to the Heal From Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email, you can subscribe at Again,
it’s I will see you next time.

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Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.

Why was I not enough?

Does this question torment you? It did me too until I learned that the actions of my spouse had nothing to do with me, my worth, or my lovability. Click on the link below for a free guide that will teach you the 3 biggest lies about infidelity and why they are keeping you stuck.

Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.