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March 21, 2023

Pain Is Not Punishment

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A universal emotion that everybody experiences is pain. It is so variable person by person, moment by moment, case by case, but nonetheless it’s something we all deal with in our own way. 

A perspective I’ve learned from my mentor David Meltzer is the role that pain plays in your life. We’ve been taught to avoid pain at all costs but that might be too dismissive of it to extract the value from what it’s trying to communicate to you. 

Pain is always there for a reason. Physical pain tells you that something is wrong with your physiology. Emotional pain tells you that you had a bad experience. In all forms of it, pain is a signal telling you that something went wrong.

In other words, pain is an indicator providing feedback. Improving anything in life requires feedback so it’s imperative that we understand what our pain is coming from, and why we’re experiencing it, in order to improve that area of our life.

As David Metlzer says, pain has two purposes. It is not there to punish you, rather it’s there to promote you and protect you. It’s meant to steer you in a direction that sets you up for more success in the future. The short-term suffering has a role to promote and encourage you to something better. The negative experience teaches you what you should specifically avoid moving forward as to not put yourself in harms way again.

Pain is an indicator should you listen to it.

And in order to tap into the value that pain has to offer, you need to make yourself conscious of it. Instead of unconsciously and emotionally reacting to the presence of pain, you can choose to assign meaning to it, approach it with curiosity, and uncover what it’s trying to tell you.

This is so much easier said than done, but the transformation always starts with awareness. Now you’re more aware of the depth your pain has to your experience, and hopefully you’ll be more open to exploring it.

Of course I don’t wish pain upon you, or anyone, and I certainly don’t want to discredit the pain you’ve been through. But I do hope that you can see more purpose in it so that you can find a better way.

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