Pain REALLY Sucks.
Absolutely. Completely. The pain I’m talking about is emotional pain, anxiety, turmoil and stress. The helplessness, the thoughts racing. Let’s just say I am not the best at dealing with pain and stress. I immediately felt like I was trapped in a prison and I had to form an immediate escape plan and put into action now.
Tough day at work.. Not “where I want to be” right now in life.. She doesn’t like me.. My new haircut looks terrible.. I don’t like how I behaved in such and such situation.. I don’t have any money.. These things happen, right? This is life we’re told, and it’s absolutely true.
However I spent my entire early adult years running away from these pains, worries and frustrations. Substituting for the pain with something else. Angrily battling my pain and negativity every time.
I REPEATEDLY failed to ACCEPT, Study and Learn from my Pain.
Isn’t this that old definition of insanity quote by Einstein? “Repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?”
No, I despise that quote. Sorry Albert, but it’s bullshit that’s hurt many people and led them to convince themselves they are helpless. I’m one of them. (“Well, I guess I’m just insane then. I knew I was screwed up.”)
We just haven’t learned the lesson yet… we failed to study the result. It’s not being insane. You’re not a fuck-up.
Every Painful Experience REQUIRES US TO PASS THROUGH AND LEARN THE LESSON.
…IF WE DON’T, IT WILL SIMPLY KEEP HAPPENING.
As I’ll discuss, there’s many ways we run and substitute for pain. I’m not only referring to drugs, alcohol, dangerous sex and other vices. I’m also referring to religion, a significant other, even positive thinking exercises and affirmations. Anything that takes your personal pain away and allows you to ignore it. You are in background conflict and battling against yourself. If you think about that, can you see how this is so?
At least it was the case for me. Everything I did in life was directly related to feeling less pain and covering it up with as much pleasure as possible.
I don’t condone suffering. Pain isn’t fun. What I will ask is that you take time to feel your pain, to study it intelligently and without judgement. Take a true inventory and analysis of why you may be feeling pain. Use your observing mind. This may sound simple but how many truly do this? I’d guess less than 1% of people, heck probably less.
Back to me – I would do anything to escape, the alleviate my pain, to find a solution. And that was my problem all along. I didn’t know how to deal with pain. I didn’t realize that pain was a completely normal feeling, a necessary feeling..
Anything that caused me to feel emotional pain, stress, self-doubt.., I’d instantly throw in the towel, run away, and generally freak the fuck out.
I tried many things to get rid of this pain. To deal with even the fear that I’d have to feel pain again! That was a pain, the fear of the next time of pain. The shitty thing is that these techniques work, for a while.. Some of this may be crazy to you, but I’m not writing this for you. I’m writing this for you all who get it.
Some Ways We Run from Pain
Here are some of the ways I tried to evade, substitute, and trick myself into believing pain didn’t exist, and some of the ways you may as well:
Sexual Affirmation – Dangerous, irresponsible sex. One night stands. Many dates I didn’t really want to go on. Contacting old flames or acquaintances just to distract myself. Fantasizing. And if it involved alcohol, yippee! (more on that next) I either wanted women to take pain off my mind, or at times I blamed my entire life’s pain and suffering on them.
Validation from others feels amazing, doesn’t it? It’s just how our ego works. And it’s okay. In my case it was extremely unhealthy. Many people think that sexual union is the ultimate affirmation of your worth. I was caught up in that. It was an awful place to be in, but it worked. It would keep the demons away and for a time, make me feel fantastic. Wanted. Worthy. On top of the world!
A prison of my own making. That would frequently come tumbling down atop of me, suffocating me and leaving me broken inside. Then I’d repeat it all over again and blame my unhappiness on the outside world.
Alcohol / Drugs – Yowza. I can’t lie, I love a good alcohol buzz. Now I enjoy it for what it is, and I drink when I feel it won’t affect my life negatively and when I can handle the consequences the next day. Which is seldom these days.
Alcohol and women were my number one combo for many years. Alcohol maybe a little more. It was the perfect getaway – an instant mini-vacation with a hella crunk yacht party. Lady Vodka would hold me in her arms and everything would be okay for a time. I wasted most of my 20s in some neighborhood dive, or at bars in trendy places. The bar was my home base. Where I would feel safe, guaranteed relief from painful thoughts, regrets, guilt.
Not only would I want some of my liquid pain medicine I wanted some sex too. No better combo to make me forget that I hated myself and to take away my pain and suffering. How clear it should have been that I was headed for more and more suffering.
Of course for many others it is a variety of drugs. Illicit or prescription. Most of the time it’s avoidance and substitution for pain. Easy enough to agree on that I hope.
Monetary Success / Fame – If I make a ton of money or get famous, and everyone loves me, then I’ll be happy and love myself, right?! Fucking wrong, dude. I don’t think I have to explain this one to you. If you still believe this, please do some research. First look up the hedonic treadmill, then watch this awesome video, and then please consider WHY you want so much money, or fame, or power.
You may enjoy my other entry “Hustle! Nah, I’m Good.”
Maybe you’re deluding and distracting yourself from yourself. Life, truth, power, happiness, it’s all in the here and now, in every cell of your body and in the air you breathe as you’re reading this.
You know what’s funny is that… when you get to this amazing place you dream about reaching …where everything will be perfect in your life and then you’ll be happy forever…..the truth, the liberating truth(!!!) is that you’ll still just be exactly who you are right now. Right. now. The truth, all of life, the meaning of life, the universe, it was just right here all along.
Humans have the ability to adapt and conform to any circumstances, however poor or “amazing” they may be. That’s the rub. You’ll still be you, no matter what you accomplish in your life.
I digress, I thought getting rich as hell and having tons of handsome and beautiful friends in the club, and an even hotter wife would make me whole, and would make the world see that I was an awesome guy! That I was right all along! They should have never ignored me, now look at this! What do you think of them apples, guys?!
Combine this ridiculously ego-driven mindset along with my proclivity for sex and alcohol and you had a recipe for one angry, frustrated, unhappy dude. That was me. And deep down I was ashamed as hell about it, ridden with guilt and conflict.
Religion / Spirituality – What?! Religion is bad?! No. That’s not what I’m saying at all.
My experience is that I would get all sad one day and decide I needed to “find God” or go to some mountain in India to pray and find the “meaning of life.” To “fill this hole” inside of me. We’ve all been there. Many say it’s the “God shaped hole.”
In my experience, part of shrinking that hole was developing the piece of me that was missing all these years. That piece of me was the the ability, the power, so much power, of being able to take the lemons in life, to take them with grace and logical observation and be able to study, learn and accept them. To take the pain and live well in the face of it.
When you begin the process of diving deep into your pain and becoming conscious, the universe opens up to you. Being self-aware, still, quiet. This is where transformation can begin.
When we listen do a beautiful piece of music, is our mind going in all directions? Not the 18th time you replay it, I mean the first time. That’s how you should be living your life, and that’s how you should be listening to your pain. Listening to the thoughts in your mind.
Religion is a touchy one. I’m going to write about this extensively later on. I’d recommend you read Krishnamurti. As you can guess, I’m a huge fan of his philosophy, along with the Stoics. Religion and Spirituality that pushes us to accept dogma, teachings, and to join in communities or groups and follow leaders – can be yet another distraction or substitution for deep self analysis. For FEELING exactly the pain and suffering you’re experiencing, and studying the “Why” behind it.
Why do you want a religion or a spirituality? Why do you seek a leader or a system? Why do you desire to be part of something? Probably to show you a way or a path to living, correct? Or to make you feel good.
I sought religion because I didn’t know who I was or what I was feeling many times. I refused to simply be with myself and dissect the individual thoughts, fears, and pains going through my mind. This desire for a guide to show us the way is because we are lost. But how can another show us the way when they are not us? How can they know us better than ourselves? This desire for a leader, for a group, for a common belief – is based in fear, and a desire for safety and security, for less anxiety and pain.
But what the hell do I know. Seriously, I’m only an observer.
Optimism / Positive Thinking – Believe it or not, even through all my marauding, excessive boozing, and lothario antics – I tried my best to be Mr. Positive Thinking, Mr. Think and Grow Rich! Mr. Think Big!
Hey, it’s great stuff, and I agree with it. The problem is that once again it distracts from the issue at hand – the PAIN – why do we feel it and what does it mean? How can we learn to live with it, learn from it, control it? The positive self talk is taking our attention away from the lemons life is handing us the powerful lessons they can teach us.
Let’s imagine a meteor is on a collision course towards Earth. We can either think positively and imagine it not hitting us.. Really imagine and picture the result in our minds! Or we can fire an awesome antimatter missile directly at it. (trust me, they exist) Take care of the problem head on, the problem becomes the priority. Sorry Bruce Willis wasn’t available so we have to shoot a missile.
Which option would you pick? A silly example, but do you understand where I’m coming from? The positive thinking is awesome, it brings about positivity and leads to healthy decisions. I get it, and I still have a healthy positive outlook in my life. But I temper that with reality, with logic, with the knowledge that shit happens, life can be hard, and I have to prepare myself to weather pain and times of challenge.. to take the lemons.
Let’s move on, because I’m getting depressed. I can’t explain to you the epic realizations I’ve had over the last few years in one article. My path was forged over thousands of hours of self-analysis, pain, suffering, and reading hundreds of books. Devouring wisdom and searching my soul, and a lot of suffering.
You don’t have to go through the same shit I did, though. You can choose today to make pain your friend, to become pain-focused and fight to conquer pain. To not fear its clutches and to learn from it. Pain is unavoidable, but suffering is always optional.
Suffering happens when we don’t listen to our pain, when we avoid it, substitute for it, or try to ignore it. It never leaves us then, it keeps torturing us, nabbing at our heels like a dog chasing us down, always gaining on us, never tiring.
eight truths about Pain that can change your life…
It took my dumbass about 18 years of making mistakes and suffering until I finally realized some epic truths. I still have a tough time, but knowing this has changed my life forever. I hope you will consider these:
- Pain is teaching us something. It can be analyzed and observed. Quiet allows us to hear our thoughts, to engage in logical self-analysis.
- Pain is a universal feeling. We are all in this together as human beings. Never forget it. Everyone goes through moments of unbelievable pain.
- Pain is unavoidable and we must learn to stomach it. Prepare for the bad times. Not because you’re a negative person, but because you live in the real world. This way you will make better decisions when pain arrives.
- Pain cannot be outrun – we can distract ourselves, numb ourselves into temporary bliss, substitute for it or “positive self talk” ourselves all we want – it will catch up to us and torture us all of our lives if we don’t come to terms with it.
- Pain exists for a reason, it’s an alert system that something needs to change or requires our careful consideration. We must listen.
- When you learn to conquer your pain and live in the moment regardless of what you are feeling, you open an infinite power source and a confidence you had never felt before.
- Pain can be observed and controlled.
- Pain is here to stay, but suffering is always optional. Pain is temporary, knowing it shall pass. When you suffer it is because you have lost hope and perspective.
I hope you will stay with me on this journey, this path. Learn to take the lemons in your life. You’ll not only be more powerful but you’ll be happier and more fulfilled. When you aren’t scared of the hard times, what else is there to be afraid of? Less worry, less anxiety and less fear equals more room for happiness, calm and peace.
Reading That Influenced This Post
Be Here Now