I Haven’t Got Time For The Pain

You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens- Rumi

The “no time for pain” is what the old pain reliever advertisement told us. I sit here with a pinched nerve in my spine with severe arthritis. The pain radiates up and down the right side of my body. All I can think of is “How do you spell relief?” I will spare you the rest of my “organ” recital. Suffice it to say I’m looking for ways to make the physical discomfort go away be that through a chiropractor, painkillers, or medical marijuana.

We live in a culture where pain free living seems to be a sometimes-elusive promise. Depression, please make it go away. Practice meditation and detachment and banish suffering. I get it. If there is a solution, find it.

Recently a reader asked me whether personal growth only comes about as a result of pain. My answer was both yes and no. That made me think about the ways we respond to life’s painful events.

We can look at pain from either a practical or philosophical level. I’m doing the practical stuff. Philosophically I resonate with the words of an Indian spiritual teacher who taught that difficult circumstances in life are like a donkey blocking our path. 

He taught, “Don’t kill the donkey. Regard it as your teacher”.

Such a perspective on suffering instructs me that, 

There are valuable life lessons that can be learned in the school of hard knocks.

My biggest take away from some of the tough times I’ve been through is the realization that my mind creates unnecessary inner turmoil (my donkey). I remember a movie from my childhood “Francis the Talking Donkey”. Some questions from your donkey (suffering) may include:

What erroneous beliefs do you have that trigger unnecessary shame (about your body or your failures)?

How does massaging your ego produce superfluous suffering (there’s never enough to go around) in its quest to be seen or appreciated?

In what way do you subscribe to a philosophy of life that hurts too much where it produces feelings of unworthiness, self-loathing, or separation from others?

There’s a ‘wise’ self that speaks words of wisdom within us

This wisdom source whispers, “There more to life than the tragic movies we produce in our minds”. Think of a time when you were at your wits end with all of life’s pressures. No solution appeared on your horizon. Your internal dialogue was like an ancient movie soundtrack. It told you that you can’t deal with the problem, you do not have sufficient resources, your only option is to feel overwhelmed, or you don’t deserve better for your life”. Also what if your ego quips “There are no lessons in this adversity”?

How can you listen to inner wisdom instead? Consider the following statements about waking up to our inner wisdom

  • Recognize that an inner wise self is within everyone. There’s more to us than the tragic movie in our minds 
  • Such messages are revealed to us from a higher Source that loves us unconditionally. This power comes from both within as well as beyond.
  • We have to release ourselves from trying to solve a problem beyond our control causing the suffering. Here we surrender both to that which is beyond our control. Another word for this experience is grace.
  • Realize that this shift towards an awakening is not a matter of crossing a finish line but a continual adventure.

Listen to the voice of the pain. If you can find solutions (medical, best practices) by all means do so. But also ask “How is this pain a breakthrough moment for me? What is it teaching me?

Wake up to the power/wisdom within.

About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations.

The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control,
Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book “What Inspirational Leaders Do” (Kindle 2008)

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