Anyone who has lived for any length of time on this planet knows that this statement is true. Nobody can go any significant length of time without confronting pain, whether it is physical pain from an injury, emotional pain from relationship strife or loss, financial pain from debt, spiritual pain from not knowing the deeper meaning of your existence or any number of ways in which we can experience pain.
I do not say this to be pessimistic but to be realistic because it has been my observation. There is nobody that I know who has not experienced some degree of pain in their life. The reason we all experience pain is that it is a mechanism by which we grow, learn and evolve. If it was not for pain, then we would not know that we should not walk on broken glass barefoot. Now, this may seem obvious to most, but it isn’t to a baby who is learning to walk. Something like this is usually a learned behaviour from the parents, who do everything to protect their children from all sorts of dangers. However, they cannot teach us everything as most of our learning comes through experience.
We often experience deep emotional pain which scars us so much that we are afraid of being in the same situation that caused the original feeling. This is because we do not allow ourselves to fully feel the pain but suppress it, because we do not like feeling uncomfortable. What we do not realize is that emotional pain, that is suppressed and left unexpressed, eventually leads to suffering. Herein is the lesson that pain is mean to teach us.
It is not meant to be something we avoid because of fear or anticipation. It also not meant to be something that we seek out without rhyme or reason. It is just part of the experience of living life and should be welcomed like a long lost friend, because it is our greatest teacher. If you want to learn something quickly then let pain be your teacher. Examples of this are, how not to treat your romantic partner, to stretch and warm up before you run, to cultivate your skills, talents and abilities instead of falling blindly headfirst into a career and seeking existential truths instead of blindly following your parent’s religious beliefs.
Pain is not only a teacher but can be your mentor or guide in times of darkness. So don’t seek out pain but, also, don’t run from it when it shows up in your life. Feel it, listen to it and experience it thoroughly, as difficult as this may seem. There may be truths in the pain, which you have yet to discover and which may illuminate the path forward in your life’s journey.
Dr. Nauman Naeem