Does Pain Mean I Must Suffer?
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
At some point we’re all faced with losing something dear to us or we experience some other form of pain. There’s no way to quantify our feelings, or the multitudes of expressions therein. The well of loss is as deep and wide as there are people that experience it. One attempt at an expression could never fully cover the gambit of its potentiality. However, on a smaller scale I hope to touch a minute corner, my corner, of this multifaceted experience, that lends itself to so much more than itself.
The truth is, grief and loss can be part of pain, but not always. We’ve come to associate them, however with suffering and through our perceived suffering we can gain a great deal of what we think is the freedom of creativity because of this, we tend to regard the pain as a necessary ingredient, but our creativity stems from the growth gained during these experiences not from the pain itself.
There is a myriad of problems when we equate pain to suffering. Change can be a part of this picture. Change however, in any form, can be challenging but to extend its reach creates chronic suffering. Suffering is optional. Yep, you read that right. Though we may not understand this. Time, the guardian of it all, can be a great teacher. Pain may be inevitable but focusing on the pain and recreating it in our lives is what leads to suffering. Pain itself isn’t a bad thing; it can be part of this human process. Feeling it is natural but reliving it over and over creates the state of suffering and in that state is where we lose all the good stuff.
Often times we end up being able to create from this place we call pain, this can be misinterpreted as part of the process necessary in order to be creative. Which is in itself misleading and ultimately we take responsibility for aspects of a given situation that may not have had anything to do with us. A disconnect is created between the pain and the understanding, which will then lead to more misunderstanding.
I don’t say any of this lightly, nor do I say it from a place of judgement. I too go through periods of pain and suffering, loss and misunderstanding. I’ve found myself out on rough seas, in a row boat without oars; I’ve felt that engulfing cloud of grey. But somehow, I figured out how to climb my way out and when I found my way out I inevitably find myself gifted with many new lessons (they didn’t feel like gifts at the time) and I find a beauty left in its place that I had never known before.
I’ve heard about facing our demons as part of going through the darkness, but I had no idea what any of that meant until I personally came face to face my own. As a society we’ve been taught to believe we need to do everything we can to avoid the negative, to avoid our potential demons, to block out the darkness, to numb ourselves, to stuff our feelings, otherwise we could be judged, disliked, shunned or disowned. But I found that the only way I was able to get to the other side was by allowing myself to fall head first into the darkness, to allow myself to fall apart. By allowing myself to fall into my own fears, my own demons, my own limitations and coming face to face with some of my greatest fears without stuffing, denying or distracting myself from them, once on the other side I see the reality of how in those moments I was out of control anyhow. Fighting it only made the entire process more painful and ultimately to last longer. That certainly wasn't what I wanted.
For me, the journey out of the pain and suffering was definitely diving into the rabbit hole; allowing myself to fall and even welcoming the fear, letting the darkness envelope me. Realizing that fighting it was futile, and potentially deadly and from past experience learning that submission was critical, if I truly wanted to know freedom. For, we can never be free of that which we deny exists within ourselves. The good the bad and the ugly remember? Not just the beautiful and perfect. It all lives inside of us.
That’s what brings me here. I wouldn’t be able to share these things with you, these misunderstandings or misinterpretations if I was still in suffering. some of my biggest lessons came out of those moments of surrender. Some of the what I thought were missed opportunities were actually hidden gems, they were just hidden inside the shell of my own bitterness and pain and until I “cracked open”. I couldn’t even see what was inside of myself. Years I spent denying these gifts, denying those around me the opportunity to see these gifts. We all have gifts hiding inside of us.
Think about your own life. There have been ample times to reflect on, I’m sure. Are there times you've decided to hold onto the pain? Are there times you've decided the pain was so deeply embedded that you felt like you couldn't let it go? Have you ever allowed yourself to just fall apart? Have you worried what others might think of you? Have you ever stuffed your pain so deeply that no one in your life knows it’s there? What would you say to a loved one going through pain and suffering? Would you treat your dearest love one the same way you treat yourself?
It might be time to free yourself from bondage.
Pain is inevitable but suffering, suffering is optional.
Here’s to supporting your freedom!