Attitude Towards Pain

QA207 QUESTION: I had a session today in which I realized more my deep struggle against pain. I hate pain. I resent it. And I continually trap myself into situations where I’m faced with a lot of pain. There’s always one point where I feel I get too much and then I get angry and then I start kicking back against everything I do. It was pointed out to me that there’s a qualitative difference between the superficial resistance to pain and an inner residual pain. And I realize that I don’t make the connection enough. I would like to realize more, the immensity of this residual pain and how I can take the initiative to get it out on a deeper level, somehow. My goodwill is strained in this area, very strained.

ANSWER: The problem is not the amount of residual pain. Nor is the problem, really, that you get too much. Although it is true; you do get too much, much too much. But you do not realize that you get too much because of your refusal to accept life on its own terms. That is how you turn against yourself, because you think life and you are two different things.

You do not realize that your life is an extension of you and that your anger with life giving you pain is an anger against you, and it splits you off right in the middle. That is, indeed, a pain that is unnecessary and that is too much and that you need not suffer, if you would stop being angry at the pain.

Stop making something of the pain. It need not be. It is not the residual pain or the present pain that is the question here really. It is your attitude to both – that attitude of anger and resistance and the belief that pain would kill you and the belief that you could ever experience anything that you are incapable of handling.

I have to say to you that you could, right now if you wish, change your attitude if the inner goodwill is brought forth. If you would really accept the fact of life that your anger and your resistance are unendurable pain. And nothing else that life could do to you – that anything from outside, anything done by others, in the past or in the present or in the future – could ever give you anywhere near as much harm as you constantly inflict upon yourself.

You do this by a certain rigidity, a certain stubbornness, a certain hardness toward yourself and toward life and toward anything around you, and a certain choice of cramping up and defending, and creating a dichotomy between you and life which is artificial and not real. That is the unendurable element of your pain.

You can decide – and it is, on that level, a very simple question of a decision – “It is not true. I do not have to cramp up against any event that I decide is being painful.” Because nine out of ten times there wouldn’t even be a pain about something, but you decide it would be painful.

Even something that is really painful would not feel the way it does to you if you would decide: “It is bearable; I can accept it; I can stop being angry at it. I could just allow it and flow with it and relax into it, as it were, and flow and go with it, instead of making myself brittle against it and thereby being broken by it.” That you could do whenever you so decide. This decision could be made within minutes.

Even when you say it is a question of years, on the one hand, it may be true that certain attitudes the inner system has to learn gradually. But yet, at the same time, it is also not true, and by saying that, you procrastinate the step you could take right now – and that is, deciding you want to stop being angry and having a chip on your shoulder against life, that you could really take life and others not as such enemies. And then you could like yourself much better too.

You could, in other words, invent, as it were, a new attitude toward life and yourself and your environment right now, not suspect anything and everything in anyone of the worst motives and the ugliest attitudes. But give everything, including yourself, the benefit of the doubt. Treat yourself with more kindness and take others with more kindness.

You will take yourself with more kindness, for example, if you say, “I am capable of accepting an unwelcome condition without exaggerating it, without setting myself against it with all my muscular strength – the physical muscles as well as the psychic muscles.” And that is the pain – the setting yourself against is your pain. That indeed is an unnecessary pain which you do not need; you, indeed, do not need it. That is my answer.

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