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Embracing Pain as a Teacher and Guide

Understanding Pain's Role in The Human Experience

Throughout history, pain has consistently been present in the human experience . Pain also has carried negative perceptions along with it

But it is also evident that pain has an a undeniable role as a guide, teacher, and healer. This blog post will delve into that topic.

We must first start by defining pain. According to The NIH website, "pain is an unpleasant signal that something hurts. It is a complex experience that differs greatly from person to person, even between those with similar injuries and/or illnesses. Pain can be very mild, almost unnoticeable, or explosive. You may experience pain as pricking, tingling, stinging, burning, shooting, aching, or electric sensations".

Pain warns you that something is not quite right in your body and can cause you to take certain actions and also avoid or seek out others.

Scholars like Dr. Brené Brown, underscore the transformative power of confronting pain.

"Pain is unrelenting... The energy required to face pain directly with love and compassion is a mere fraction of what it takes to combat it." - Dr. Brené Brown, University of Houston

Gentleness: A Core Lesson from Pain

A primary lesson pain imparts is the essence of compassion. Suffering calls us to extend kindness, not only to others but more importantly, to ourselves. Once we learn true self love and lean into it, gentleness can emerge. A gentle approach in tough times can multiply the healing properties of self-love exponentially it seems.

Boundaries: Learning from Emotional Pain and Discomfort

Emotional pain can signal that boundaries are being threatened. This is particularly true for those who have suffered some type of trauma. When it occurs it is vital to take note, speak up with your truth in the situation and hold strong in the boundaries that you need. It is important that if others are crossing your boundaries that you let them know. After all, boundaries are not meant to keep people away. They are meant to show that one recognizes their limitations, and cares enough about themselves to enforce them, thus avoiding more pain. It is actually a way to keep people in one's life. Communication is key here.

Physical Pain

Setting boundaries and knowing what one's boundaries are with regard to physical pain, is equally important as with emotional pain.

For instance, let's say everyone is going bowling Friday night. You know with your medical conditions you'll be too exhausted from the work week, and so instead of trying to keep everyone else happy, you let them know that Friday nights are not a good night for you to go out having worked all week. You'd prefer it if everyone could schedule, at least some of the time, Saturday evening get-together so that you can rest and decompress from the week and not hurt yourself.

This is also a part of acknowledging one's limitations and being honest and open about it. We must learn that physical and emotional pain often decreases with proper pacing and balance of lifes occupations (work, activities of daily living, leisure activities, sleep, and more).

Resilience: Transforming Pain into Strength

Dr. Kelly McGonigal points out that our perception of adversities, including pain, shapes our response. Depending on how pain was addressed in the family growing up, one will carry that to adulthood. For instance your family may want you to take on the sick role when pain is high, and let them care for you. Or your parents may have said, "Your fine. Just pull up your bootstraps and keep going". Two completely different approaches and perceptions of pain and illness.

It is a good exercise to stop and think about your perception of pain and what that means to you as to how you perceive it and what your expectations are. Once you are aware, you can delve deeper into whether that works for you. If it's not working, you may want to re-examine alternatives that will work and be healthier for you.

It is important to recognize that seeing challenges as avenues for growth enhances resilience and fosters personal development.

Conclusion: The Multifaceted Lessons of Pain

While pain poses challenges, it also emerges as a teacher, mentor and healer in your life. From teaching gentleness, self love, and boundaries, to understanding one's perceptions, to enhancing resilience, pain offers a richer understanding of our life's journey. Embrace it and learn the lessons you need to enhance your relationships and live a happier life.

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