"Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional"
How many times have we heard the saying, "No pain, no gain?" When referencing working out, starting a business venture, burning both ends of the candle, or grinding to better ourselves, it's a phrase that is meant to create motivation and push us forward. The only problem is humans are very good at avoiding pain. Our brains begin firing off thoughts about stopping during a tough training session when it becomes physically demanding. We avoid tough conversations with people if we believe there will be some pain for one of the parties involved. We may even hold something back instead of going all in when an opportunity arises because we're scared of the pain that may result if we don't achieve what we set out to. When we try to block out pain or pretend like it doesn't exist, we might be missing out on valuable information that can help us on our journey.
What if we could really know pain? What if rather than turning away from or avoiding pain, we turned towards it? Pain can be an incredible catalyst for insight and change in our lives if we can open ourselves up to being aware of and present with it. Last week, we looked at what can happen when we bring our attention to the present moment and focus on just this breath. This week, we're taking it a step further by looking at what can happen when we allow the unpleasant moments in our lives, whether physical, mental, or emotional, to take place, and instead of avoiding them, we turn towards them.
There is another saying that is a powerful teaching moment for all of us: "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." We are going to experience tough and challenging things in this life-- things that will test and push us beyond what we think we can handle and do. These things may be painful. They may sting and hurt in the moment. What is the story we tell ourselves about the challenging and unpleasant moments we experience? When we fall short in our endeavors, are we telling ourselves a story of not being good enough? Are we telling ourselves that it's time to give up and throw in the towel? Or, are we telling ourselves that this is what resilient people go through? Moreover, could we be telling ourselves that this moment will make us into better people? So, are you allowing the pain you're experiencing right now to cause you to suffer or to build you up? If we can truly know pain in its present form, then we can certainly use that insight to better know gain to move forward.
Click here to access this week's mental training. It's a 6-minute mindfulness practice that will use the body to teach us about pain and suffering.