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tracee ellis ross shares tools for dealing with pain

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When you have a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for your role as an anesthesiologist on the highly-rated show black-ish, rub elbows with artists like Kanye West on the regular and have Diana Ross for a mother, you might think actress Tracee Ellis Ross has lived a pretty pain free life. Recently the actress opened up to Redbook magazine about her struggles with body image and the pressure to conform to narrow beauty standards. Now she’s sharing her thoughts with Ebony magazine about the secret weapon she’s used to stay motivated and push towards success: Pain.

The actress has partnered up with Motrin and it’s #WomenInProgress campaign to get down to the nitty, gritty of exactly what pain looks like and how women can use it to their advantage. Ross maintains that the only problem with pain is our mindset about it and once we look at pain differently, it can actually be helpful:

“Pain is not a stopping point, but an opportunity for growth.”

“The immediate response is [to] get smaller [and say], ‘What I did was wrong; I shouldn’t have done that’ instead of, ‘This is really good information for me. This is either information about something that I do or don’t want, or information about how I want to be.’ Then make space for there not to be shame involved in the experience of what is a normal part of life: pain, disappointment and fear and those negative feelings.”

She also opened up about how although she enjoys social media, she doesn’t think it tells the whole story. She reveals that although winning an Emmy was a phenomenal moment that we all applauded from behind our computer screens, it wasn’t necessarily a defining moment for her:

“I know so many of the great things I’m experiencing . . . you know—this year 44, first time at the Emmys, I won a Golden Globe—things like that, are very exciting but those were not the breakthrough moments. The breakthrough moments were actually the hard moments. The breakthrough moments are the moments that actually gave me the courage to stand there on that stage winning a Golden Globe and actually be in the experience of it.”

It’s been said that money can’t buy happiness, but how painful can a life of fortune and fame really be? I mean her mom WAS Mahogany. But Ross says “the three A’s” have helped stay grounded and focused:

“Just like anybody else, I’ve experienced the pain of disappointment, of things not going the way I want on certain things or the way I wish that they had or being at a certain place in my life and thinking why has that not happened.”

“I have learned that the fastest way to where I want to be is where I am. May the space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me. I often get snagged when I know that I’m experiencing pain, whatever it is taking me down—depression, bad day, disappointment, I made a mistake and I’m beating myself up about it—whatever those things are and I see where I want to be, like, I shouldn’t be upset about this—say it’s that gap.”

“There’s the three A’s: Awareness, Acceptance, Action. Jumping from awareness right to action skips right over the acceptance space, and what is in the acceptance space is actually you being able to feel what the right action is.”

The Girlfriends star also shared a funny story about pain and prepping for an opening dance number as a host for Black Girls Rock! in a HuffPost interview:

“I’m not a dancer, I have bad knees, I do not have the hinge at the back of my hips that Rihanna has nor do I on a regular basis do what Beyoncé does, so I knew it was going to be a challenge for me, I was afraid to make a fool of myself.”

“It was a challenge and at the same time, it was really hard on my body. I threw my back out, my knees were incredibly swollen. I could have used all of those as as a reason to stop and not do it.”

“What I left with was this incredible experience that I never would have tried if I had let the idea of the being in pain or being afraid stop me.”

Ross is definitely giving out some gems about taking life one day at a time and appreciating each moment for what it is and the important part pain plays in each woman’s journey. You can read more about how she copes with loss and her reaction to last year’s presidential election here. You can also watch her share her thoughts on the stigma associated with pain below:

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