I’m sure these feelings are familiar to most people, pain is part of being human and we will all experience it at some point in our lives. We lose ones we love, we get hurt physically and emotionally, and sometimes life doesn’t go the way we want it to. Pain may be inevitable but how we respond to it is a choice.
Someone once said “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” and if you’re like me when I first heard that saying, you may be tempted to argue with it. I questioned how it could be possible because it seems like an unavoidable and automatic response to suffer when in pain. What helped me to embrace this concept more fully was to clearly understand the difference between pain and suffering. Pain is an experience, it’s something that is happening to us that has a beginning and end. Suffering is something we create by making up stories in our mind of what the pain means. And because they are stories, and not reality, they can continue indefinitely, even long after the experience of pain has ended.
By staying present with my sadness and not complicating the pain with stories of what I should have done or by resisting the reality of the moment, along with pain I have also experienced peace, happiness, contentment, and relief since losing Rosie. This may sound strange at first, but peace is possible with any loss when you make the conscious choice not to suffer as a result of it.
If the idea of experiencing pain, both physical and emotional, without suffering intrigues you, here are a few things to be mindful of next time you’re in pain.
- Face the pain with integrity, see it for what it truly is, and don’t struggle to turn it into something it’s not. The way to do this is by looking directly at what is actually happening, without rejecting, clinging to, ignoring, or elaborating it.
- Don’t deny or push pain away. Pain is, well, painful and it is a natural response to want to make it stop. However, the more you resist pain the stronger it becomes and the longer it will stay with you.
- Notice that it’s not permanent and don’t allow the pain to define you. The moment you become the story behind the pain you open yourself up to greater feelings of anxiety, depression, restlessness, and anger.
- Breathe deeply…seriously this makes an extraordinary difference and is something we often forget to tap into when under stress.
Wishing you much joy!