Pain is an inescapable and necessary part of life. We all feel pain from time to time, whether that be the physical pain of minor cuts, scrapes and bruises, more serious bodily injuries and ailments, or the emotional pain of heartbreak, loss, guilt, and shame. Our pain serves as a valuable teacher. It helps us learn to avoid the mistakes which hurt us. There is a distinct difference between pain and suffering, however. While pain is temporary, suffering is a hurt that endures.
On the topic of pain and suffering, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Pain is inevitable in life. As we begin to recover, we can see that much of the suffering that we experience is directly related to our stubbornness and illusion of control. The more we hold on to issues, beliefs, or experiences that we long since have grown beyond, the harder we have to get ‘whacked alongside the head’ to get the learning. Contrary to much religious belief, suffering is not noble. It is often just plain stupid and comes out of our stubbornness and need to control.
When we are attached to our suffering, we often miss those flowers that grow out of dark moments.”
We may not have a choice when it comes to experiencing pain, but suffering is often within our own control. Life presents us with situations which are often painful yet teach us valuable lessons we must learn in order to grow and evolve. If we refuse to learn, we will be condemned to repeat the same experiences over, though they may manifest in different ways, and the more pain we will feel until we finally learn. We suffer in our refusal to move on, to accept things as they are and to change. In holding on to our limiting beliefs and harmful behaviors which no longer serve us, we are imposing suffering upon ourselves. There is nothing noble about remaining in pain for longer than necessary. In fact, to do so is foolish. We are only hurting ourselves.