PAIN IS PAIN We all hurt now and then. Patience life will improve BY: Troy Murphy | November 2016
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In the darkest moments, the blinding fog limits hopeful visions. We can’t see past the pain. The cold winters visit and the world appears grey; but our lives, in time, will emerge from the cold to the freshness of spring. Emotions aren’t constant; they drift through stages; winters followed by spring, transitioning to summers and settling in autumns. The days of winter lengthen and the sun shines a bit warmer. New life quietly bursts through the frozen landscape. This constant circle of endings and new beginnings is taught by the seasons. We know summer will arrive; but during the frozen winters, we still are chilled.
Pain is pain; when we experience pain, it dominates consciousness, demanding attention and diverting focus. We naturally respond to painful cues, signaling that something’s wrong. We are programmed to escape from the discomfort. Unseen urgings push for action. Pain is essential. We instinctively pull our hand out of the fire. Without pain, protective reactions would slow, exposing us to further injury. Whether pain is physical or emotional, the injury demands action to secure relief—something is wrong and we need to attend to it, NOW!
Intellectually we grasp the purpose of pain. Understanding the necessity doesn’t soothe the ache; we still hurt. But conscious awareness of the process assists with mindful investigations, expanding the scope of examination beyond immediate reaction. Pain still hurts—life is complex. Pain pricks and prods the over-thinking mind, germinating constant thoughts, muddling simple messages. Healing from emotional distress is infinitely more complex than pulling a hand from burning flames.
Pain whether from stubbing a toe or breaking a heart hurts. Emotions jump to attention, seeking resolution and comfort. The trigger and resulting pain is over-simplified. Experience is more than simple events encountered; the final episode encompasses the concrete action plus the interpretation of the happening—minor events interpreted as major catastrophes feel like a catastrophe, the thoughts creating danger where actual threats do not exist. Thoughts transform occasional missteps, snubs and slights into unforgivable attacks. The over-critical mind creates mountains of meaning from the mole hills of experience, triggering shame, anger and fear; we should never underestimate the power of the mind.
Thought-provoked pain still hurts, and still sounds a warning—alarming that something is wrong. But the something that is wrong may simply be faulty churning of the facts, spinning the emotional system into a panic. When we experience hurt, we should investigate the facts surrounding the irritation. We may discover that the faulty thinking is unnecessarily poking and pricking a relatively small matter, creating a festering wound. A wrong diagnosis of cause prevents healing; the clearer the picture, the more effective the response. If the root of the pain is thoughts, we challenge them, examine other possibilities, and refrain from pointless blaming. But if the pain is from being wronged from someone, we can distance or protect ourselves during future interactions.
Without proper focus, we errantly retaliate against the wrong sources, alienating possible support, confusing areas of personal control, and damage our futures. Misguided efforts frustrate recovery. We fail to gain wisdom from the hurts; discouraged, we give up, pain intensifies and psychic defensiveness intervenes. When efforts pull us further from desired destinations, we eventually quit struggling and get swept away in the strong currents of an endless painful existence of chaos.