THE VALUE OF PAIN
By Gin Perry
Pain. We try to avoid it. We try to protect our children against it. We dislike anyone who causes us to feel it and we certainly don’t seek it out in our daily lives. Yet, it is probably one of the most important elements of our evolution.
Where would we be without pain? Pain has inarguably driven innovation. Humanity and civilization as we know it has evolved in a way to move away from pain and towards ease and comfort.
We build houses and shelters to avoid suffering the cold, harsh elements. We built cars and roads so our bodies can travel distances without much effort. The list goes on of all the innovations that are at their core meant to relieve us from some sort of suffering.
But on a more personal level, what is the use of pain? We obviously don’t want to feel it. We avoid it at all costs. But could it actually have very real use and benefit?
Pain teaches us.
The ability to feel a wide range of emotions actually helps us deal with the challenges of life. No, it’s not all roses and butterflies and thinking that it should be it is delusional.
The funny thing about balance is that finding it often takes being out of balance in the first place. It is not a static position but a constant refinement of coming back to the center point. Balance is different for different people and can change over time.
Those who think negative emotions should not be felt because “oh it’s just going to attract more of it” took the idea of the law of attraction way too fucking far. We can’t just ignore the shadow sides of ourselves.
The best way to deal with pain is to move towards it, meet it with the same intensity, explore it, and move through it.
Stop labeling emotions as good or bad. They simply serve as signals for what is going on in our life. If we are angry, it is important to question it and explore it. Same if we are sad.
If we are happy, it could be worthwhile to explore that as well so we can have a map on how to experience it more frequently.
It is not to say react and be controlled by our emotions. But acknowledging them helps to move through them and not be caught up.
Every time we are about to level up in life, things tend to get chaotic. It is moving through this chaos that leads to the level up.
It’s like cleaning our closet. Things get way worse before it gets better. It looks like a bomb went off in our room, we start to wonder why the fuck did we start this project in the first place. We feel burdened by the mouthful we bit off. But slowly, we chew and get through it. And then that closet gets organized and we feel so much better.
The point is, we had to move through a painful or uncomfortable phase to get to the leveled up state.
Muscles can not get stronger without stress and challenge. Even bones get stronger with stress as it triggers a process called osteoblast which strengthens them.
When astronauts come back to earth, gravity is debilitating for them as their bodies grew accustomed to the absence of gravitational force while in space. The lack of stress on their body caused their muscles to atrophy and weaken.
Learning to be with pain or what you would label as something negative prepares you for challenges that will inevitably come up in life. Running away makes your ability to face life as it comes atrophy.
We exist in a world of duality. Without pain, we would not be able to experience pleasure. We don’t know how to recognize the “good” without having experienced the “bad”. Contrast is what creates the beauty of life, giving it a melody rather than a monotone experience.
So next time you get caught up begrudging a painful experience, remember that on the other side of it is a stronger, more capable version of yourself. Stay open to life and find beauty in all of its offerings.
Gin Perry is a yoga teacher, an artist, a writer and an end of life doula. She lives by the belief that we all have been endowed with unique gifts. Gin’s current framework for living a life with purpose is that the meaning of life is to develop and share our gifts.
Follow Gin on Social media!