Pain, something we all experience. Whether it’s simply a bump in the road, a rough patch, or trauma. Merriam-Webster’s definition of pain states: “the physical feeling caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body; mental or emotional suffering; sadness caused by some emotional or mental problem; someone or something that causes trouble or makes you feel annoyed or angry.” Personally, I think it would be impossible to meet a single individual on this planet that has never experienced pain. It is something universally that each human has dealt with. Pain doesn’t discriminate, no matter the ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, political views, or religious views. Pain will effect each of us. There is no preventing it, no matter how hard you try. But there is a significant difference when it comes to how we deal with and move on from the pain. The pain happens, the repercussions differ quite a bit.
Do you let the pain control you? Or as the talented Tyler Joseph says, do you “fight it, take the pain, ignite it, tie a noose around your mind loose enough to breathe fine and tie it, to a tree, tell it, ‘you belong to me, this ain’t a noose, this is a leash, and I have news for you, you must obey me.’?” Do you look to the Lord above as your rock during the pain? Or do you curse God and turn away completely? Do you look to drugs and alcohol to numb the worst of all the hurt? Whichever way we choose, it’s clear that we are all just trying to get through this suffering.
See, we can’t stop pain from happening and we can’t choose to not experience it. Maybe one day in a futurist world, we’ll be able to take “feel-no-pain” pills, but as of now, we can’t do that; we have to experience it.
Evolutionary theory explains a lot about pain and how it has evolved as a useful adaptation. Actually, my Psychology of Personality text book gave me a new perspective on pain. The Personality Puzzle by David C. Funder states: “Pain signals that something has gone wrong and must be fixed. Just as it is important to be able to feel the pain of a broken leg so you won’t try to walk on it, so too it may be important to feel emotional pain when something has gone wrong in your social life, because that signals that your chances for reproduction or even surviving may be at risk.” Pain has been a dear friend to us all since the beginning of time.
Now that we’ve acknowledged that pain cannot be avoided and there are even useful purposes of pain, we can move on to see the beauty in pain. I’m not one to romanticize pain, because untreated pain can lead to depression. Just as we seek help for our painful broken leg, we should seek help for our mental health. But there are good things that come out of pain.
Our hearts, for example, are made more loving. After experiencing pain we can actually empathize, instead of offering sympathy. While we may not be able to fully understand, we can somehow in a different, new, beautiful way. Pain can open us up and destroy us but it can also bring us together. Pain shapes us, makes us who we are, and that is something beautiful.
There is an old saying that my best friend Julia shared with me, not sure of the origin, about the Lotus Flower. For a lotus to bloom it has to first emerge through the mud. No mud, no lotus. No shit, no beauty. Focus on the lotus, not the mud.
I feel like I quote this author in every serious post, but her writing is truly amazing. “On the darkest days you have to search for a spot of brightness, on the coldest days you have to seek out a spot of warmth; on the bleakest days you have to keep your eyes onward and upward and on the saddest days you have to leave them open to let them cry. To then let them dry. To give them a chance to wash out the pain in order to see fresh and clear once again.” ―Tahereh Mafi, Unravel Me
As cliche as it sounds, pain can either break you or make you. The beauty in that cliche is that we decide which one it does to us. Which will you choose?