the trick is not “not minding”

Gaius Mucius is at the center of this story about conquering pain. As a young Roman in the 6th Century B.C. he was captured and threatened with being burned alive. To prove his courage, he stuck his right hand into the fire until it burned, thereby losing his right hand and earning the name “Scaevola” (left-handed), becoming Gaius Mucius Scaevola.

G. Gordon Liddy famously performed this feat, as was captured in the book All The President’s Menwhen Deep Throat says to Bob Woodward: I was at a party once, and, uh, Liddy put his hand over a candle, and he kept it there. He kept it right in the flame until his flesh was burned. Somebody said, “What’s the trick?” And Liddy said, “The trick is not minding.”

Oftentimes, we metaphorically hold our hand over a candle and think that the trick is not minding that it hurts. We think (read: hope) that if we pretend that we are not hurting, then the pain will become inconsequential. We will be able to wish it away. But what happens is actually the opposite. Inasmuch as we are able to push down distressing emotions, these emotions live on. They tend to harbor beneath the surface and ultimately, it takes more energy to keep them pushed down than to actually have dealt with them in the first place (read more here).

The reality is, the way to get through hurt is to actually mind. To care, to feel and to experience the hurt, pain and all of the other emotions we are feeling. This is a huge part of honoring yourself.

The next time you feel hurt, I challenge you to go through it, open and vulnerable to your own truth. Allow yourself know what the experience is like, let it move you and notice anything else it may bring up for you. Own it, embrace it and grow from it. You will feel lighter and relieved.


About Jodi Rubin, ACSW, LCSW, CEDS

Jodi graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from SUNY at New Paltz and earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University. In addition to over a decade of work as an LCSW and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist with individuals, families and groups in her private practice, Jodi is a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Certified Personal Trainer and created Destructively Fit®, a training that addresses eating disorders within the fitness industry. She is a former director of Day Treatment at The Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders and a founding member of Metropolitan Psychotherapy and Family Counseling Practice. Jodi also specializes in infertility and has served on the Clinical Advisory Board of Seleni Institute since its inception. Jodi is the creator of a curriculum on eating disorders for the Graduate School of Social Work at New York University and has been teaching this course, as well as guest lecturing in the NYU Post-Master’s Program, since 2007. Jodi actively lectures and teaches students, families and professionals throughout the metropolitan area about the etiology, prevention, treatment, assessment and work with eating disorders. Through psychotherapy and supportive work with adolescents, adults and families, Jodi works to create a secure sense of self, increased self-esteem and a healthy relationship with self and others. She works with an eclectic person-centered approach and tailors her practice techniques to the unique needs of each individual. Please feel free to contact Jodi directly in her Greenwich Village office, 212.529.5811. View all posts by Jodi Rubin, ACSW, LCSW, CEDS

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