Hannah ActonPublished in September 2020 / Updated in December 2020
Pain is like bread. Stay with me.
When we feel bad when we’re angry – it consumes us. It doesn’t let us recognize the pleasure of moving forward.
Everyone feels lots of pain. This is as close to objective fact as one can get. Low level, high level, stubbed toe, my grandma died, who am I, and why did I do that and worse still, why didn’t I do that.
‘I don’t know how or why, but my heart is fizzing and feels like it’s about to dissolve into someone else and I can’t stand how I give away my essential organs like I don’t need them.’
Yes, that pain
Suffering becomes such a large part of our lives – even in the absence of pain, learning to cope with painful emotions is hard because it feels like a duty.
Actually, these are the moments of your life where pain helps you recognize ways to improve your lifestyle. To accept it on your own.
But society needs to relearn how to accept pain. We can’t just accept pain and embrace negative emotions as a necessary part of growth: we shouldn’t have to suffer chronic pain to evolve.
How many songs have been dedicated to pain? How many emotional vampires masquerading as loved ones do we accept? Think about the angsty poems glorifying mental health and eating disorders that society encourages?
Controversial opinion: we deserve a happier life
We aren’t weak for wanting to avoid it, to want to move on for a quick fix.
It’s simply self preservation to want to get rid of pain.
I hate the saying that life is pain, or anything worth having is worth hurting for.
Pain is a four-letter word for bread in French. Lets, for a minute imaginatively, suspend our disbelief and consider dough to be the physical manifestation of all our worldly problems.
Knead it, poke it, prod it, frown at it when it splits into pieces. Cover it with a damp tea towel and ignore it.
Then, let it rise and push back. People talk about hurt feelings all the time, but we should reach for peace and hope, not just accept the reality of all different pain types.
It may be the wrong shape, but into the oven, your dough goes. Put it on high, hope, and come back when the air smells good.
We haven’t imaginatively transformed pain into something pretty. But you can consume it, erase the memory.
Pain doesn’t always have a neat moral role
Having a hard time cannot be cashed in for life experience. Don’t wallow in a chronic condition; remind yourself that you deserve comfort.
We think we recognize the marks of physical pain, yet there is no equating it – the debate between a well-placed kick to the crotch versus that of childbirth is defunct and fodder for conversation between two 12-year-olds.
However, in this way, pain is also politics, because, like the people who suffer it, not all pain is born equal.
I love the old parable: a frog jumps into boiling water and immediately jumps out and never jumps back in. Wherein, a frog that jumps into the cool water, which is then boiled, will die before it recognizes it’s being boiled alive.
Pain isn’t always a disturbance.
Sometimes it builds
We have to relearn how to view pain, though. Otherwise, our recall bias will convince ourselves that having survived it, we can endure worse.
Pain isn’t something to be overcome, embraced, ignored or disguised.
Remember, the French word for bread also happens to be ‘pain’. Coincidence?