Pain can become useful to you in new ways you have not considered.
You may scoff, but some people really do love their pain. I’m not referring to the masochistic pain kinky folk enjoy, such as being flogged until their skin is hot pink. I’m talking about people like you and me who have a lot of aches, breaks, and jagged lacerations on our body, mind and spirit on a regular basis. It may sound ridiculously impossible, but we have to stop hating our pain and learn to love it. These pains are part of who we are.
One of the best reasons to learn to love your pain is that if you don’t, it will kill you. Pain kills more people than cancer, heart attacks, and suicide combined. That is because pain kills people while they are still alive. It makes us want to curl up into little balls of howling, trembling, wild-eyed, hair-tearing pain-sufferers. We give up on life because of pain. It’s like a jailer, locking us up inside of our own personal little hells and throwing away the key. In that hell we bleed, cry, and plead for mercy—or even look for a shred of hope that someday, somehow, the pain will become bearable.
Loving pain is like loving your worst enemy. If you can love your worst enemy, then you have traveled the path of absolute kindness. This is a rocky, treacherous venture, this path of loving your pain. Most people don’t bother to even take a step in this direction; loving their pain is much too daunting. They’d rather dull themselves with endless sitcoms, tubs of ice cream, beer, or porn-a-thons.
Sometimes we feel pain-shame and hide our wounds from our loved ones. We try to appear brave and not burden others with our pain. This usually turns us into a pain in the ass. It’s often better to say up front: “I hurt now.” Then take the steps you need to alleviate the pain as best as possible. Distract. Self-soothe. Rest. Ask for help. Meditate. Medicate. Or simply sit in the pain and radically accept it, even if you are doing so with tears pouring down your cheeks.
This loving your pain practice will feel strange at first. We are taught from early childhood that pain is to be avoided at all costs. When pain arrives, the first thing we usually do is try to shoo it out the door by any means possible. We use painkillers (what a great name!) or booze, or retreat into sleep—anything to rid ourselves of this vitality-sucking beast. Pain-avoidance means we often also miss the many benefits pain has to offer.
1. Realize Pain is Sensational. There are various kinds of pain and each feels different to each person. Pain isn’t always a physical sensation from a disability, injury, or disease. It can be emotional, spiritual, existential, or unexplainable. In addition to that variety, we each also have cultural, familial, social and personal pains. To that, add the pain others inflict upon us, intentionally or not. Don’t forget the usual emotional pain-instigating suspects: Abandonment. Betrayal. Loss. Grief. Shame. Heartbreak. Injustice. If nothing else, pain will not bore us.
2. Praise pain as a community builder. It is the glue that holds many social and cultural groups together in solidarity. Pain is an equalizer, forcing people who may be from disparate parts of society to see eye-to-eye through their collective tears. Where would we be without our wound-mates, without our brothers and sisters in Kleenex? We’d be alone and still in pain. Instead of suffering in isolation and silence, now we can reach out and grasp the cyber, or real hand of another who can nod and sigh along with us.
3. Love pain as the proof of life. Our mothers endured the pain of childbirth to give us life, a life that would be, no doubt, filled with much more pain. Not only did our mother hurt as we were brought out of her body, but most of us are introduced to life with a painful smack on the ass, or some sort of other unceremonious gesture. Pain is a touchstone proving to us we are still alive, and because life is always changing, there is hope of less pain someday.
4. Appreciate pain as a compassionate teacher. Without experiencing our own pain, how could we be tolerant or compassionate towards others who are suffering? Without firsthand knowledge, we can’t offer sincerity and validation when a friend talks about their pain unless we, too, know the feeling of being ripped wide apart by sharp, shooting sensations that make us scream, whimper, or hide. When we hand over the box of tissues, or listen with an open heart, we are also letting a bit of another sufferer’s pain dissipate.
5. Recognize the value of pain. Without knowing pain, we’d not know the absence of pain, the sensation, which we call comfort, or balance, or stability—nor would we be able to appreciate those beautiful moments of ease. With the knowledge of pain we are more grateful for warmth, softness and each little kindness bestowed by oneself, or gifted to us by another.
6. Be aware pain is a catalyst for change. Pain gets our attention and is one of the few sensations which makes us angry enough to change our behaviors, our lives, or our minds. Pain is the flame honing steel to a harder, sharper point, and pain can hone us and our skills as well. While we are sobbing in agony, part of us is working on a way to stop, ease, or change the severity of the pain.
7. Appreciate pain for inspiring improvement and growth. When we feel our pain or see it in others, we then seek out better, smarter, faster, and more creative solutions to painful problems. We ask hard questions of ourselves and others and then design best practices or revolutionize new ideas, and find solutions to pain such as ergonomics, medical cannabis, biofeedback, or good nutrition. Our pain is (eventually) our gain.
8. Celebrate your new vulnerability. The experience of pain can make us softer, and in some cases, weaker, so we have no choice but to drop our heavy armor and let others see us in all our imperfect humanity. The first times we ask for help may feel like swallowing knives, but our pain has led us to that point where we are finally able to speak the truth about our needs and learn to trust in the goodwill of others.
9. Revel in your resilient status. Pain proves we are limitless. We may not have the power to eliminate our pain entirely, but we do have control over whether or not our pain dominates us, or whether it’s more of a tame horse, which we let out to pasture as needed. It may take many years of practice, but those of us who live with pain have the motivation to learn mindful meditation that has been proven to help drastically reduce pain. In our minds, we can be anything we want—even pain free.
The next time you feel pain, try to examine the experience from a different perspective. Allow pain to become useful to you in new ways, ways you had not considered before. It’s okay not to like our pain at all, but loving it makes it much more bearable.
With a name inspired by a French book, The Adventures of Perrine, it was almost a given Perrine Dailey would become a writer.
Her inclination to write, however was nearly squashed, when At 3-years old, after crayoning “words” across the hallway walls, she was harshly disciplined. Her mother, a former English teacher, then began to teach her the specific rules of writing. The first rule: No Writing on Hallway Walls. Inspiration was restored.
Around the same age, Perrine lost most of her hearing due to a high fever from croup. She was soon fitted with powerful hearing aids and then sent into a gifted and talented educational system where she was the only deaf person in her school. To survive, she taught herself to lipread and speak without affectation, which meant mastering the most complex language on Earth: English.
Today, Perrine is a published technical writer of numerous articles about assistive technology, and a self-published author of erotic short stories, blogs, poems, and other works. With 15+ years editing experience, Perrine has covered a wide range of subjects from business correspondence to editing statewide and national publications, from assistive technology for people with disabilities to compiling a newsletter about rocks and minerals for Minnesota rockhounds. .
As a lifelong multimedia artist, Perrine is also self-taught in the areas of paper marbling, fractals, stone sculpture, photography, painting, stained glass mosaics, and jewelry.
Art is a guiding force in her life. She wouldn’t have it any other way.