What I Learned from Pain: Don’t Resist It

by Enoon Gnihton

Almost no one enjoys pain, but our overpowering desire to avoid pain or to quickly relieve it when it occurs can lead us to try to ignore or resist it. We need to remember that pain is a signal that something needs attention. I’ve learned that trying to resist or ignore pain only leads to more pain, irritability and frustrations that impact not only us, but those around us as well. The best way to deal with pain is to accept that it exists. Accepting pain is not easy because it is difficult to accept discomfort, but that acceptance is the key to recovery.

I injured my back a few months ago and it presented me an unwelcome opportunity to deal with pain. The injury was severe enough that I was unable to stand or walk for more than a few moments at a time without great discomfort.

I felt that the injury would heal without medical treatment over time, but in the interim my daily life was severely disrupted. Moving about to perform the most routine tasks was painful, slow and frustrating. While I could accept the fact that I had an injury I had great difficulty with the fact that the injury was restricting my activities and was taking longer to heal than I had expected.

My frustrations led me to resume my exercise routine prematurely and as a result I reinjured my back just as I was starting to heal and feel good again. The renewed pain made me realize that my impatience had caused an unnecessary setback and that I needed a new approach.

Ultimately I realized that my resentment and impatience were forms of mental resistance to my pain. I learned a long time ago that resisting something that is a reality is futility. Mental resistance to pain can also lead to emotional baggage including irritability and short temperedness that can affect our interactions with everyone that we come in contact with.

Through acceptance I allowed myself to come to terms with my condition and to take the necessary steps of resting and curtailing my activities that would allow my body to accomplish the healing that was needed. Acceptance also improved my mood and my interactions with people around me because I no longer felt that the pain should not exist.

Over the course of several weeks the pain subsided and I was gradually able to resume my normal level of activities. My healing process was made much more bearable mentally and physically by the fact that had accepted the reality of my injury.

The next time you experience pain, remember that even if it is uncomfortable don’t resist it. Resistance and denial only lead to more pain. Accepting the existence of pain allows us to take the remedial actions necessary for dealing with it while reducing the emotional burden of discomfort.

Although pain is a personal experience its mental side effects can impact our relationships with others. When we are in pain, irritability impatience and frustration color our outlook and interactions. Acceptance, along with proper attention to healing will promote not only better health and attitudes, but better relationships with those around us that are unburdened by our resistance to pain.

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