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There are many different kinds of pain that can keep us from living our lives fully, including physical pain, emotional pain, and mental pain.  Each has its own sets of dynamics concerning how it's caused, its intensity, how we're able to respond to it, and how we're able to deal with it.  What they all have in common is the fact that they can be debilitating sometimes, especially if for some reason we're not able to deal with them effectively.

In my life, I find that emotional pain is the hardest for me to deal with, mostly because I've never been given the tools that allow me to deal with it and then move on--if there even are such tools.  My most intense emotional pain occurs when other people do things that hurt me, especially if they've been people I've trusted and have cared for deeply.  When I do experience emotional pain from that type of source, I tend to withdraw into myself and try to protect myself from further hurt, a strategy that I know intellectually is ineffective, but that is so deeply ingrained in me that my intellect has little say about my reaction.

I do find that most of my emotional pain has more to do with my expectations of others, especially those whom I've known for many years, than with the actions themselves.  When I've known someone for a very long time, I start to feel that I "know" the relationship, and there are certain things that I feel I can "expect" from the other person or persons.  

When those expectations are violated, this is a cause of emotional pain.  Other causes involve loss, hurtful words or actions, or even my own actions.

It's important that we look at the procedures that doctors follow when their patients are experiencing physical pain.  The very first step, of course, is to identify the source of the pain.  Only when the source is truly identified can they treat the pain, for if they identify it incorrectly it can lead to the wrong type of treatment for the patient, which can make things even worse.

So it is with our emotional pain.  When someone criticizes me and I feel pain, the person's criticism isn't necessarily the cause of the pain--how I react to criticism causes my emotional or mental anguish.  The criticism is merely the catalyst that brings my reaction to the surface.  The knife that cuts my finger isn't necessarily causing the pain--the way my nerve endings react is actually causing the pain.  The doctor won't give me any drugs that are made to react to knives--he or she will give me drugs that react to the nerves in my body that are causing me pain.

If a person hurts me, then, that action is exposing something inside of me that reacts to the action and causes me pain.  The pain, then, is a signal that I need to start working on that particularly sensitive area of myself to find out why it's so sensitive and how I might make it less sensitive.  I may need to seek out the help of an objective person who can help me to see the causes clearly, but unless I actively attempt to deal with the pain, I can expect that the next time something similar happens, it will be just as painful, if not more so. 

You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you
will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses,
and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain and
learn to accept it, not as a curse or punishment but as a gift
to you with a very, very specific purpose.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

People suffer from pain and call it evil, yet in reality it may be growing
pains of the Spirit--the changing of the body into a finer
and more spiritual substance.

Henry T. Hamblin


Sometimes pain is easier to bear alone than happiness.

Nathaniel Branden
Self-Esteem Every Day


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When an apprentice gets hurt, or complains of being tired, the workmen
and peasants have this fine expression:  “It is the trade entering his body.”
Each time that we have some pain to go through, we can say to ourselves
quite truly that it is the universe, the order and beauty of the world,
and the obedience of God that are entering our body.

Simone Weil


Painful situations, relationships that hurt us, memories of experiences that
pinch our nerve endings, need not imprison us.  However, we are seldom very
quick to let go of the pain.  Instead, we become obsessed with it, the
precipitating circumstances, and the longed-for, but often missed outcome.
We choose to wallow in the pain, rather than learn from it.  And we salt our
own wounds every time we indulge the desire to replay the circumstances
that triggered the pain.
   Pain can't be avoided.  It's as natural as joy.  In fact, we understand joy
in contrast to experiences of pain.  Each offers breadth to our lives.  And
both strengthen us.  Our maturity is proportionate to our acceptance of all
experiences.  In retrospect we can be grateful for pain, for it
offered us many gifts in disguise.



Pain is telling us something is wrong, that we need to
behave differently, that what hurts must be fixed.

Ernie Larson



Life is full of painful events, and people who have lost their way and hurt others.  Our pain is not lessened when we respond with hatred.  In fact, the opposite occurs:  When we hate people who hurt us, we come to resemble what we hate, or worse, and then we suffer all the more.

Our culture teaches us how to numb and distract ourselves but not how to listen to our pain and learn from our difficulties.  Think what we learn about pain from television.  We learn that pain is to be avoided at all costs and that there are a variety of pain relievers for every conceivable pain.  I would like to see a commercial that says, "Your pain is a great teacher.  Learn from it and be healed."

Bernie Siegel

People have a need to feel their pain.  Very often pain is the beginning
of a great deal of awareness.  As an energy center it awakens consciousness.

Arnold Mindell

The whole purpose of letting pain be pain is this:  to let go
of pain.  By entering into it, we see that we are strong
enough and capable enough to move through it.
We find out that it ultimately has a gift for us.

Matthew Fox


There is no pain quite like that of a broken heart.  But a broken heart
is an open heart.  When we allow ourselves to be broken,
a gentle transformation takes place.

Douglas Bloch

It is our own pain, and our own desire to be free of it, that alerts us
to the suffering of the world.  It is our personal discovery that pain
can be acknowledged, even held lovingly, that enables us to look
at the pain around us unflinchingly and feel compassion being
born in us.  We need to start with ourselves.

Sylvia Boorstein

The world is so constructed that, if you wish to enjoy its pleasures,
you must also endure its pains.  Whether you like it or not,
you cannot have one without the other.



There is no normal life that is free of pain.  It's the very wrestling
with our problems that can be the impetus for growth.

Fred Rogers
The World According to Mr. Rogers


The only way to deal with emotional pain is to feel it.  The more you can feel it
in a soft and gentle way, the easier it is for you.  It can be soft and gentle.
You can feel it without protest or complaint or blame.  There is no need to fix it
or make the pain go away.  Just feel the pain.  Enter into it.  If the pain is there
from the past, it wants to be experienced.  Things from the past were not
experienced, because they were too painful then.  You were too vulnerable then.
These things are waiting to be experienced so that they can be released.
If you are really gentle with yourself, you might find that the pain is nowhere near
as large and awesome as you had imagined.  It was your refusal
to go near it, that gave it its size and power.

Leonard Jacobson


Unexplained pain may sometimes direct our attention to something unacknowledged,
something we are afraid to know or feel.  Then it holds us to our integrity, claiming
the attention we withhold.  The thing which calls our attention may be a repressed
experience or some unexpressed and important part of who we are.  Whatever we
have denied may stop us and dam the creative flow of our lives.  Avoiding pain, we
may linger in the vicinity of our wounds, sometime for many years,
gathering the courage to experience them.

Rachel Naomi Remen


The pain and suffering that come to us have a purpose in our lives--they
are trying to teach us something.  We should look for their lesson.

Peace Pilgrim


There is only one thing pain is good for.  It teaches you to love.
God bless pain.

Joey Goldfarb

There are no true beginnings but in pain.  When you understand
that and can withstand pain, then you're almost ready to start.

Leslie Woolf Hedley


Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Khalil Gibran

Go with the pain, let it take you. . . . Open your palms and your body to
the pain.  It comes in waves like a tide, and you must be open as a vessel
lying on the beach, letting it fill you up and then, retreating, leaving you
empty and clear. . . . With a deep breath--it has to be as deep as the pain--
one reaches a kind of inner freedom from pain, as though the pain were not
yours, but your body's.  The spirit lays the body on the altar.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Allowing the pain of personal growth to be a crucible of your spirit--the
alchemical grail through which the metal of your former self turns into
gold--is one of the highest callings of life.  Pain can burn you up and
destroy you, or burn you up and redeem you.  It can deliver you to an
entrenched despair, or deliver you to your higher self.  At midlife we
decide, consciously or unconsciously, the path of the victim or the
path of the phoenix when it is rising up at last.

Marianne Williamson
The Age of Miracles


If we are to have intense pleasures, we must also be liable to intense pains.
The pleasure we love, and the pain we hate, but it seems impossible to have
the former without the latter. Indeed, it looks as if the two must in some way
alternate, for continuous pleasure is a stimulus that must either pall or be
increased. And the increase will either harden the sense buds with its friction,
or turn into pain. A consistent diet of rich food either
destroys the appetite or makes one sick.

Alan Watts
The Wisdom of Insecurity


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Remembering our pain can also teach us something important about ourselves.
When we remember and then work through our hurts, we allow them to heal.
Covering old hurts is just another way of denying who we are and what we
want to become.  Just as someone earns her wrinkles because she has lived,
we earn who we are by all that we've experienced--our joys, our pains, our
sorrows.  It is only when we come to terms with painful memories that we
can begin the process of extracting them from our pasts.

Leslie Levine
Ice Cream for Breakfast


Emotional and psychological pain were to become, perhaps, the most
powerful force in molding the course of my life.  For some people, pain
and hurt breed bitterness and cynicism.  For others it causes them to
look deeply into themselves and into life itself in an attempt to understand
the meaning beneath seemingly capricious or arbitrary happenings.

Joseph F. Girzone
Never Alone


Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken
belief that you can not bear the pain.  But you have already borne the pain.
What you have not done is feel all you are beyond that pain.

Khalil Gibran


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Pain is unrelenting.  It will get our attention.  Despite our attempts to drown it in addiction, to physically beat it out of one another, to suffocate it with success and material trappings, or to strangle it with our hate, pain will find a way to make itself known.

Pain will subside only when we acknowledge it and care for it.  Addressing it with love and compassion would take only a miniscule percentage of the energy it takes to fight it, but approaching pain head-on is terrifying.  Most of us were not taught how to recognize pain, name it, and be with it.  Our families and culture believed that the vulnerability that it takes to acknowledge pain was weakness, so we were taught anger, rage, and denial instead.  But what we know now is that when we deny our emotion, it owns us.  When we own our emotion, we can rebuild and find our way through the pain.

Brené Brown
Braving the Wilderness
If you are determined not to risk pain, then you must do without many
things:  having children, getting married, the ecstasy of sex, the hope of
ambition, friendship--all that makes life alive, meaningful and significant.

M. Scott Peck
The Road Less Traveled

When the body is in pain, a distorted area of awareness
is crying out to the rest of awareness for help.

Deepak Chopra


Sometimes pain and illness are not meant to be removed.  You can't
second-guess God.  Rather than praying for it to go away, it's often
wiser to pray that you learn as much from it as you possibly can.

Stephen Levine

Do not try to drive pain away by pretending it is not real.  If
you seek serenity in oneness, pain will vanish of its own accord.

Seng ts'an

When you cling to pain, you succeed only in pouring
more salt on the wound.



If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you,
but your own judgment about it.  It is in your power to erase this judgment
about it.  If anything in your own nature gives you pain,
you are who hinders you from correcting your opinion.

Marcus Aurelius


The pangs of pain, of failure, in this mortal lot, are the birth-throes of
transition to better things.  We are separated for a time by the indifference
of space and our blindness which particularizes and isolates us.
But in us is a longing for unity.

John E. Boodin

Seek not outside yourself, for all pain comes simply from a futile search
for what you want, insisting where it must be found.

A Course in Miracles


Do not consider painful what is good for you.


Pain has a message.  The information it has about our life can be
remarkably specific, but it usually falls into one of two categories:
"Our life would be more alive if we did more of this," and "Our
loving would be more lovely if we did less of that."  Once we get
pain's message and follow its advice, the pain goes away.

John-Roger and Peter McWilliams
Life 101

Hurt people hurt people.  That's how pain patterns get passed on, generation
after generation after generation.  Break the chain today.  Meet anger with
sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness.  Greet grimaces
with smiles.  Forgive and forget about finding fault.
Love is the weapon of the future.

Yehuda Berg


Today, I can tell you that the pain I was experiencing. . . was all for a reason.
Without that pain, I would not have discovered that I had a calling to help other
people and I would not have gone on to spend close to twenty years coaching
and counseling others.  All of the pain I had experienced had invited growth--and
more pain and more growth.  And while it's not over yet, the cycle has become
less intense over the years.  And now, just as the growth is
welcomed, the pain can be welcomed too.

Laura Berman Fortgang
The Little Book on Meaning



This novel was written as a tribute to my mother and the town she grew up in--Crested Butte, Colorado, a mountain coal mining town.  The town of her youth bore no resemblance to the CB of today, though, and the town that I visited when I was young was filled with run-down houses and buildings.  It was a dying mining town until it was turned into a ski resort, and the town of the novel is an idea of what it might have become with a few more decades of neglect, when a trio of creatures escapes from a sealed-off mine intent on exacting revenge upon the people of the town.  They've been living in the mine and caverns for sixty years, and they're really, really angry.
A horror novel on this kind of website?  Of course, because reading can be fun, too.  It's not a gore-fest (I really do dislike those), but more a study of how people react to adversity, and how the sins of our fathers sometimes do come back to haunt us many, many years later.
$2.99 on Kindle.



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