I had an interesting conversation with a very nice woman today about Yoga and the Martial Arts. Her name was Tammy and she teaches Yoga. As we spoke it seems we have a lot in common. We spoke about different training techniques and our experiences. We also got to talking about pain and Tammy said, “for some people pain is their existence, it is how they define themselves“. Now I may have remembered the wording incorrectly but that was the gist of it. I thought this was an interesting thought, and I had never really looked at it that way before. I mean we have all known people who love to be miserable but the reason never seems so clear!Now there are a lot of different kinds of pain, physical, emotional, psychological and combinations of these, take your pick! We were discussing physical pain but my thoughts apply to all of the above (with the exception of physiological, bi-polar, etc). But the reasoning holds for almost all situations. I use to work with a woman who was excessively over weight and that was all she ever talked about. She talked about wanting to loose the weight all the time. She made comments about her weight all the time. Everyone felt bad for her. Some of our co-workers all joined weight-watchers with her and she was the only one to gain weight while on weight-watchers! I figured out back then that she wanted to be fat so she had something to talk about. But I never really thought about her pain defining her, but it did.
Whether it is weight, or drugs, or debt, or fear, or physical injury we all hold some pain that defines us, even if for a short time. For someone who is defining themselves with pain there is little anyone can do to help them. So don’t try! Unless you are a paid professional. Perhaps I should refraise that, you should try to help them but the instant you see they are wallowing in their pain, run! All you will do is expend a lot of energy and life on a futile experience since that person has to want to change. I’ve learned that the hard way. But I don’t mean throw the person to the wolves, let them know that you are there for them when they get their act together. If you don’t do that and you stick around, well guess what you just figured out your pain! Yes you like to suffer the pain of futility so you can feel good!! Admit it.
Physical pain is the one though that can be tricky. I say this because it can take a person a long time to realize they have a physical problem, they can occur gradually. And the one thing that amazes me about the human body (no not that!) is how it can adapt to and live with pain. But that doesn’t make it define us any less, we just are not always aware of it. Here is the scary part. If we live with pain for a long enough time we can get to a point where we don’t want to live without it. For some people their only interaction with others is because of their pain. Mostly I am talking about physical pain but again it applies across the spectrum.
It is hard to break any habit in life especially one that defines who we are. You have to really want to change. The funny thing is I honestly believe everyone wants to change for the better, but not everyone wants to do the work to change. A lot of people want someone else to do the work for them (remember run!). Bu if you are still reading or you haven’t flamed me yet then you are probably someone interested in change. Change is good. Change is hard. And let’s face it, change is scary, it’s the unknown. What if I try to change but can’t? What will I blame everything on then?! In life there isn’t anything you can’t do if you put your mind to it, at least in the free world. So rejoice there is hope and you are it. But ditch the western mindset where you don’t eat a cookie and expect to look like a super model! No if you really want to improve your life, that is a life long journey and it starts now!
Here are the cliff notes for the above rantings…
Pain can be a mask we use to hide from life because living is hard and scary at times. Pain can be an easy excuse for our other perceived failings, it is the king of the “if onlys“. If only I didn’t hurt my ankle…I could have made it to that exam and finished college…if only… You get the point. But remember the most important if only… If only I had tried I might know if I could have!