Carol Gray Kennedy, LCPC

mental health counselor

50 Pride Street Westbrook, ME 04092 phone: (207) 712-1971
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
One of the most useful things I  read recently was about the concept that pain is part of the human condition. Normally, and biologically, our response to pain is to get rid of it as soon as possible. Pain is not comfortable. The interpretation of pain can be that something is wrong and needs our immediate attention. What if there is nothing to remove pain immediately? What then?

Sometimes, pain is just pain. It's part of our existential reality that we will be in emotional pain at times. We lose someone or something. It hurts. There is pain. However,...in many cases there is nothing to do to relieve it. It has to run its course. It has to finish its life cycle. It is not helpful to judge ourselves for pain. It is not helpful to blame. This is more suffering.

So how do we distinguish between pain that is part of the experience of our humanity and pain that is there to urge us to change,...to move?

I like the serenity prayer for this type of though process. If there's something we can change, we can decide to take action. If the pain is necessary and not some call to action, perhaps we can accept it. And one step further, if we can lean into that pain and be with it fully,...perhaps it will move through us more fully, and therefore more efficiently.

The point is, that although pain is uncomfortable, it is many other things as well. It is a teacher. It is a tool. It is a messenger. It is part of the life cycle and experience of being here in physical form.

If that pain is calling you to action, by all means heal yourself through whatever opportunity fits for you. Otherwise, honor and hold it sacred. As a friend of mine once said, "If you are going to suffer, then at least enjoy your suffering." At first I was surprised by this, but then the wisdom of it came to me. See if that makes sense for you, and notice what pain and suffering offer.
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