Pain is something that we all feel and experience in life. None of us are immune to feeling pain. We experience it in the form of physical pain, emotional pain, or mental pain. We feel physical pain when we exert ourselves in a tough workout. We feel emotional pain in the form of regret, fear, sorrow, or anger. Good examples of mental pain are stress, anxiety, or confusion.
Even though pain is a natural part of the ebb and flow of life, we’ve unfortunately been cultured to believe that pain is something unnatural, and the unpleasant feeling of pain is something to be eradicated and avoided. We’ve been taught that it should be a goal to maintain a cheerful happy feeling at all times. We’ll do almost anything to attain or maintain that feeling.
Every time I watch a show on Hulu I’m bombarded with ads for prescription drugs that are supposed to fix all of our problems. I’m sure you’ve seen them too- ways to quickly and easily get rid of or cover up our pain. I just watched an ad where the person suffering from depression said they wished they were “normal“. If we’re not taking a medication, most of us will resort to other activities in order to cover up the uncomfortable feeling that comes with our pain- things like drugs, alcohol, sex, hurting ourselves or others, over or under-eating, or overexerting ourselves at work or in the form of exercise.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not downplaying the severity of people’s symptoms of depression or any feeling of pain. However, I do think we can change the way we relate to pain in the first place- which is what can make all the difference.
I’ve been through my own share of incredibly painful moments in life, and each one (upon getting through it) allowed me to learn something about myself or about life. This is what has lead me to change my whole outlook on pain. The uncomfortable feeling of being in pain is no more than life’s way of getting our attention. When we feel pain, life is trying to teach us a lesson. It’s too bad that we rarely pay attention and simply try to get rid of the feeling- that’s how we miss the opportunity to learn, and as a result, we’re doomed to make the same mistakes and feel the same pain– over and over again until we finally learn the lesson we’re supposed to learn.
The next time you feel pain, or even uncomfortable, try to think of it simply as life’s way of bringing our attention to something that needs to change– whether that’s our physical habits, our beliefs, or our emotions. We need to learn to do something differently. Some of us have become very good at it- we’ve learned how to successfully push away pain- for even years! Denying, pushing away pain like we’re taught to will only bring on more pain because life is persistent and until we learn the lesson we need to learn we will continue to experience the same pain.
One day at a time, let’s practice viewing pain as an alert system that something needs to change. This helps us start to think about pain differently all-together- as something more positive rather than negative. Pain is an incredible means for us to transform into a better version of ourselves. The next time you feel pain- look for the lesson that’s there. Allow yourself to feel it, and understand adjustment you need to make in your life.