(Published on July 12, 2021 in The Spiritually Speaking Column of the Daily Guardian)
Everyone alive has felt pain at some point in their life. Pain is what most people fear the most in their lives. Think of your worst possible nightmare — losing a loved one, breaking up with your sweetheart, losing your health, your wealth or your happiness. These are the most common fears in life. What do they all have in common? It is not really the fear of these things happening, it is the fear of the pain that will accompany it. But is pain really all that bad? Is there any positive aspect of pain? There are many positive aspects of pain. Here we will look at six of them:
PAIN MAKES US STRONGER
Going through pain teaches you lessons and these lessons make us stronger. Just like a diamond needs to be cut before it shines, we have to go through some form of pain to understand the value of happiness and this gives us strength. Pain leaves you better and stronger than it found you. When you endure and survive painful experiences in life, chances are you will be able to handle painful experiences of the future better and you will approach them more boldly.
PAIN TEACHES US HUMILITY
The pain you have experienced in your life is a reminder of how bad things can get. This wards off pride and makes a person more down to earth. We, humans, tend to think of ourselves as special in some sense and often think in terms of ‘this can never happen to me’. But facing a painful challenge head-on makes us realise that we are all in the same boat. When we face the pain we realise that we all face the same fears, fight the same fights, bear the same illnesses. We are all in the same challenging life here on planet Earth. This awareness keeps us centred, humble and empathetic towards the pain of others and helps to avoid situations that are based purely on pride. We realise that pride can only cause harm in the long run and pain to ourselves and others. Pride is dangerous and unnecessary. Humility is much more gracious.
PAIN TEACHES US EMPATHY
Pain gives us a greater capacity for love, compassion and empathy. Pain brings you closer to others because you can empathise with what another person is feeling when they are in distress. Experiencing pain brings us to the realisation that we are not immune to it and this is what will drive you to help someone in need. You realise that the person in need could have just as easily been you and that there is really no special reason you have been exempted from another person’s misfortune.
PAIN POSITIONS US FOR SUCCESS
When you go through the pain that results in gaining strength and resolve. These are attributes that will lead to success in the future. Since you have been through hell and back, how is a simple job loss or investment loss going to shatter your resolve? This is what pain does to you. It makes you tougher and ready to face challenges. It gives you the faith in yourself to overcome any obstacle. You are no longer fragile and do not give up. With this kind of persistent and tenacious mindset and behaviour, success will eventually come to you. On the path towards success, there will be many obstacles and there are many factors that will make you stronger than you are now, but one of the biggest factors is pain.
PAIN BUILDS CHARACTER
Pain tests your character and demonstrates to you either that your character is developed or that it could use a little bit of work. Learn to view any pain that comes your way as a test of your character and even if you fail the test you can always use that lesson as a reason to improve your character. Pain also serves as an indicator of your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you are losing a debate with a friend and find yourself getting angry, it may be an indicator that you need to sharpen your communication skills or expand your knowledge. Alternatively, the lesson could be that you are a person of conviction and values, which is a positive trait in most cases. Pain gives you self-knowledge and self-awareness that brings things about you to your own attention, highlighting traits in you that need some improvement, promoting inner growth. Life is a series of tests and every time you get an opportunity to improve on your character and prepare yourself for the next test, that’s a positive experience.
PAIN MAKES US ADAPTABLE
When you experience failures in life, you often feel pain. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. This teaches you to refrain from predicting that things will always go exactly as you expected. It teaches you to readjust your plans and strategies when things don’t go your way and not get discouraged and angry because they didn’t work out the way you expected. In fact, sometimes things will work out even better when you readjust your plans. You learn that the gifts that life brings us are not always what we expected. With such a positive attitude you start to perceive life’s unpredictability as interesting and spontaneous rather than inhibiting, you become an expert at readjusting in any situation and making the best out of it. There are other ways that pain can be helpful to us but the main thing to remember is that in life we have to feel. If we never felt pain, we would not appreciate pleasure or happiness. If we never felt the pain of others we would not have compassion or empathy. If we never felt the pain of heartbreak we would likely never know the feeling of loving ourselves. Pain makes us stronger, humble, empathetic, successful, adaptable and builds character. So the next time you face a painful situation, feel the pain and you will learn from it. Do not try to avoid it. When you face and feel your pain, you will make progress and grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Be at peace and know pain is an integral part of life. Everybody has felt and will feel pain. You are not alone.