Is Pain Controlling Your Life?

The Real Problem With Pain

This blog began as a way for me to discuss how to find freedom and happiness despite having adversity and struggles in life. My thought was that even though everyone encounters pain in their life, not everyone realizes that others share in similar experiences. We are all on the same journey in life because we have been programmed genetically as humans to seek out pleasure and avoid pain. Of course, no one can completely avoid pain and often times we mistake discomfort for pain and addiction for pleasure. Therein lies the real problem with both pleasure and pain- it blinds us to reality in the moment.

Pain is especially insidious in its ability to distort clear thinking. When we experience pain, depending on the severity, we will look for and do almost anything to stop the pain. That’s not the problem. The problem is that pain itself is a symptom of something else and it’s often the case that while experiencing pain, we cannot correctly identify the source of the pain. You may have a chronic shoulder or hip pain and blame it on a past injury or the fact that you have been sitting too long during your workdays. However, the real problem underlying the pain could be that your movement patterns during physical exercise are causing stress on the joints and therefore muscular imbalances. Again, it’s exceedingly difficult to diagnose the cause of pain unless the pain has subsided to the point where we can engage in clear thinking again. Then, once the pain is gone, we often forget to research the cause of the pain, or we just get distracted by our daily lives the the endless cycle of pain continues.

Another common experience among people in pain is they find that their ability to be patient and empathetic towards others declines rapidly. We forget that pain is not unique to our human experience, but something shared by all. The worst is when people have arguments over who has more pain! Have you ever seen this? It’s like a competition for who has the most ailments and who has the most difficult life. It’s as if the need for significance compels us to bring up everything wrong in our lives with others.

It’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever, especially pain. No one should believe that because they are in pain, they will always be. Moreover, the pain you are experiencing may or may not have been caused by something you have done. It’s impossible to know for sure because the pain is keeping your from thinking accurately. Trying to diagnose the correct cause of the pain during the suffering of the pain is not the best course of action. Neither is it wise to engage in important conversations (especially with loved ones), business transactions or making important life decisions. Take it from someone with chronic pain, nearly every argument, blow up in temper, terrible decision or major mistake I have made is because my thinking has been obfuscated by physical or emotional pain. It would have done me well to acknowledge that I was in pain and was not thinking clearly before I took any action.

As human beings we can never escape our biological impulses to avoid pain and seek pleasure. However, we can as humans employ our ability to use reason in spite of the pain. All of us should acknowledge and accept that when we are in pain we are not thinking clearly. How do you know if you are thinking clearly? See( https://libertyandpain.com/2016/04/21/thinking-clearly/.) If we are not mindful that we are in pain, we will do something that leads to regret later on. I know, I know…. EASIER SAID THAN DONE, RIGHT? Nothing worth doing is easy. It’s worth at least reminding ourselves that we need to do the hard work when it comes to thinking clearly and acknowledge when we are being controlled by our pain.

 

In Health,

Sean

Thinking Clearly

How to Tell You’re Thinking Clearly

            A few days ago I asked on Facebook “How do you know if you are thinking clearly?” All of the answers were good. The best answer implied that being clear-headed has to do with drive and determination. I’m not sure that’s correct, but I like it anyway. The reason I asked the question is because despite my rituals and reading to get myself in state and ready for each day, my mood tends to swing from day to day. The thoughts I have one day towards my family, staff and business will be ones of gratitude and love, then suddenly change to anger on another day. I’m sure everyone reading this can relate. Just think about your partner. When you first started dating him or her, wouldn’t you do just about anything to make them happy? Fast forward to today… is that still the case, or do you find yourself annoyed, upset or even resentful? Were you thinking clearly back then or now? Why has your frame of mind changed? I think we would be better off clearly defining what the proper frame of mind is. With this definition I believe we can spot more easily if we are thinking clearly, or if our judgment or mindset is skewed negative.

The definition I would like to put forward for thinking clearly is the following: a frame of mind producing the type of thoughts that, if acted upon, will bring about positive results for you and others, especially those you care for. Using this definition, it’s easy to recognize whether you are thinking clearly or you are allowing negative thoughts to influence your thinking. Remember, many people identify with their thoughts, but you are not your thoughts. You are the one listening to them. A simple trick for dealing with negative thoughts or a poor frame of mind (those thoughts that, if acted upon, will produce a negative result for you and others) is when you recognize a bad thought, say out loud “Thanks for sharing.” Then discard the thought and move on to clear your mind. What about a string of bad thoughts? Do anything possible to change your physiology and remember a time when you felt proud, happy and energetic. Then ask yourself whether your current thoughts meet the definition laid out above.

Does this help? I hope it does. I know that it has helped me recognize if I’m in a great state of mind, or I need to work on getting there before I act. Here’s the lesson–think before you act, but make sure you’re in the right frame of mind and thinking clearly before you do.