A universal language that everyone is familiar with in their life at some point in time or the other is ‘pain’. The degrees may vary, the situations might differ, but pain is an experience, an emotion, a feeling that we all go through for sure. Each of us have unique ways of processing it and that determines our experience to a great degree.
An interesting point to note – the nature of pain is such that we cannot remember it clearly once it is gone. We tend to distort it in some way or the other. We can only recall perhaps how it felt but not know it fully after. And that’s quite helpful as it helps us move along. Else, we’d all be prisoners of a pain that was once upon a time.
Some try to repress it, some try to express it, some try to remember it, some try to be indifferent towards it. Whatever be the choice, they have consequences.
Remembering a part of how we felt when in pain, helps, as it enables us to empathise with others when they go through something similar. It also helps us sometimes, to stay away from that which caused us the pain and helps us keep safe as well. Hence, a short memory of pain is useful.
An obsessive memory of pain can be debilitating. We may be too gripped by the fear of pain or get into self-pity and feel like we have been wronged. Then life becomes a big screen drama with you as the victim and someone or the other to be persecuted for your sorrow. That’s when we truly become powerless in our own stories.
On the other side, if we take too much pride in our capacity to have dealt with it, we may border on arrogance. We will then find others’ problems too small compared to ours. We may tend to throw unsolicited advice and all that may be disrespectful. It can also appear that we think too much of ourselves or too little of the other. Therefore, it is important to remain grounded and humble as we think of our experience with pain.
An absolute lack of memory or repressing it can keep us going back to similar pains in the future or, make us indifferent towards others going through that kind of pain. It starts to show up in unexpected places in unexpected ways and creates unusual problems for us. And when we are being indifferent, we are just increasing the pain in the world. Hence, observing just how much we remember of it is helpful to either let go or remind ourselves of what’s necessary to remember. After all, pain is also for a purpose. If it is not serving any purpose, or if it is having counter-productive effects, we have chosen not to look at it or remember it, the way we should have.
Expressing pain in a healthy way is often helpful as the lack of it might lead people to treat you as a machine who knows no pain and can push it further. In the current day, no one is asked to be Hercules, unless we have offered ourselves in some way or the other through our actions and words in the past. Misery is strictly optional. Why make it mandatory and invite suffering then? If people know you are in pain, at least someone in the environment (might not always been the one you wish for) might choose to be more supportive – and that often makes a world of difference when we are down and out. In a world of mind-readers, it is perhaps okay to not be expressive. But in a world which is consumed by technology and gadgets to the extent that they can’t see the pothole that they themselves are walking into – expecting that they’d understand and offer you help is a recipe for further pain. Therefore, it just helps to express one’s pain – without overly dramatizing it or persecuting others for it (else it may not serve its purpose and might even backfire).
Reflect to see what’s your representation of pain. Is it helping you and not adversely affecting anyone around you too? If not, check what strategy would you like to switch to. The idea is not to get consumed by the aspect of pain but rather be reflective about the purpose of it. It helps immensely not just in coping but also in making it work for us and not against us. You won’t be defeated by pain if you choose to stay determined around it.