It doesn’t take us long to find out there is pain in life. We first experience pain when hunger pangs strike us and we cry to alert someone we need food. Then we start to learn to walk, and we quickly find out that falling hurts. Some of us learned pain when we did something wrong, and received a spanking. We also learned that touching something hot needed to be avoided at all costs. We all learn eventually, that any pain should be avoided any way you can.
For some reason, I began to adopt a style around avoiding pain. I actually believed I could do it. I could anticipate where pain was going to come from, and get out of its way. Pain is inevitable but certainly you can get out of its way. So my lifestyle became strategizing how to live pain free. If something seemed too much work, too many long hours, just don’t do it. If I was too bored, find something fun too do. If emotions became to painful, my mind could take me somewhere far away from whatever I was feeling.
That style worked for awhile, or at least, I thought it did. If you do a style long enough it turns into a habit. The nature of habits is through repetition they bury themselves inside. The deeper and longer the habit the harder is to notice it. And even when it is noticed, becomes difficult to change. Ask any smoker or dieter, or anyone trying to transform any habitual behavior.
As I started to become aware of my style, which had been decades in the making, I started to realize that I didn’t like the lifestyle this strategy had built. There became consequences that I hadn’t been able to avoid. There were experiences I had ignored. There were relationships that had been affected. In my quest to avoid pain and only experience the positive and fun, I had built a false reality for myself.
There was pain seeping through the cracks of my defense system. I had failed to insulate myself. My lifestyle wasn’t working. This realization was my wake-up call. I began to realize that the pain I had been avoiding, was trying to alert me. It was trying to send a warning that something was very wrong. My style of living was actually depriving me of life, full life. I had convinced myself that life could be full if I avoided pain at every turn. I’m sure as you are reading this, it is obvious to you that life, real life has pain. It is a part of our life and can’t be avoided.
As this realization began to dawn on me and I started to re-strategize about a replacement lifestyle might be. Two friends kindly and compassionately, put their arms around me and told me that my style had actually caused wounds deep inside me. There was a deep suffering that was increasing every day I was living out my false lifestyle. They told me to see it for what it was, see my pain and sit with it. As I begin to do that, I could see that pain was my friend.