Pain and suffering

The body experiences pain. You’re sitting in the bleachers. In a split second, as you’re reaching for another nacho, the bat breaks and the splintered hunk of hickory comes flying a hundred miles an hour at your face. That’s going to hurt. Maybe even for a while.

Our emotions experience pain too. People are cold sometimes. Some folks make no qualms about leaving a trail of emotional devastation wherever they go. It can be hurtful to be caught up in their wake.

Pain happens. It’s part of this human experience. That other person will treat you like you’re a joke. You may miss payroll. Your art might not sell.

You will fall off your bike as you learn to ride it. The gravel against your knees hurts. No way around it.

But the mind is the only thing that can experience suffering. It’s a volitional thing. With our minds, we can choose to prolong the pain with suffering.

Pain happens. Suffering is a choice.

Suffering is a result of us not being with our pain. When we don’t sit present with our pain and let it release — when we constantly try to move away from it — we delay its departure, and we suffer.

The only way out of our pain is through it.

Sometimes we suffer on purpose (even if we don’t want to admit it to ourselves). It adds to our story. It can be a defense mechanism. Playing the victim is sometimes more comfortable than taking responsibility.

Suffering can be a mighty fine mask or crutch.

But we can’t escape the fact that our soul wants only to connect with life. It needs to feel the pain so it can get its healing hands on it to massage it away.

If we keep running from it — if we keep ignoring the pain — it never heals, and it continues, along with our suffering.

Feel the pain fully but choose not to suffer. This is the jam.

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Jonas writes daily essays and meditations here at Medium. To get them delivered straight to your inbox as soon as they’re live, click here.