We’re in a real pickle right now. I feel a worldwide acceleration towards the mindset that most pain we experience as human beings is bad, to be avoided and eventually eradicated from the planet and our lives.
This idea that there is “good” pain (like working out or hustling for a career you care about) and “bad” pain (like a physical injury, anxiety, emotional pain, digestive discomfort etc) is, in my opinion, the real root cause of our current collective pain.
Because of our collective instinct to run away from pain instead of turning towards it with curiosity, there are few people we can turn to for help; because the people we’re turning to for help also can’t tolerate the discomfort of pain (their own first and foremost, and because of that – ours). So they’re first instinct will also be to help us fix it right away, get rid of it as fast as possible or they may offer us a way out…that isn’t through the pain, but rather a circuitous path of avoidance. This could be unnecessary surgery, painkillers and even something as seemingly benevolent as herbs or dietary changes meant to eliminate our symptoms quickly.
In fact, I see many holistic healthcare practitioners adopting the same mentality and strategies as western science, just clothed differently: we malign entire food groups and isolate single nutrients as either problematic or helpful; we suggest rigid diets that will eliminate our symptoms while considering this the cure, not stopping to consider that perhaps there’s a deeper issue here that could mean the difference between managing pain (such as digestive issues) and truly healing them.
We’re good “managers” of pain. There are a million ways to manage pain, from numbing with food, drugs, alcohol, sex or distracting with social media, laughter, sarcasm or judgment; we manage pain with pills, splints, steroid shots and preventive (unnecessary) surgery as well as diet restrictions, supplements and therapy.
What has to change for the paradigm to shift?
We must each, individually, turn towards our own pain and make friends with it in all its manifestations: physical sensation, emotional disturbance, psycho-spiritual crises like not knowing your purpose or maybe even not knowing who you are.
Pain will deliver to us messages that, when made fully conscious, allow us to move beyond this level of human development to the next…where we no longer need to confront that particular pain again.
Ironically, then…the more pain we are willing to allow into our lives, and the more capacity we cultivate for turning towards these experiences with curiosity, the less pain we’ll have!
When you begin to cultivate your capacity to be with your own pain, to feel it fully, to allow its rightful place in your life, you will become a healer for others. Not professionally (unless you want that), but simply because of your presence. Your energy of being unafraid of pain and discomfort (and your ability to get curious about it) will be healing for everyone in your life, and you will begin to model a different way of being human.
Let me know in the comments if this is resonating and making sense for you, and if you’re with me! And if it’s not making sense, ask me anything. Let’s make this a discussion for everyone’s learning benefit.
Comment below, I’ll see you there 🙂