Injury may be inevitable – suffering, on the other hand, is one of many interpretation options from which I may choose. So, I wonder, why do I choose to suffer?
Just to be clear – my suffering is not the same thing as my experience of injury. Rather, suffering is my interpretation of my experience as painful, distressful, or difficult.
Could I be confusing physical pain with emotional suffering?
I create a correlation between physical and emotional injury when I interpret my experience to include both, as if they were the same, setting myself up to defend that correlation.
I unwittingly cross objective causality with subjective perception. I experience the resulting frustration as suffering – that I defend as my identity.
One defense I employ is the abdication of responsibility.
I create a separate identity, an imaginary extension of self, a pain body, to take the heat that is my suffering. It’s an identity crisis of self, in which my pain body protects me from myself by representing who I am not, e.g., “I am suffering,” “I am sick,” “I’m tired,” “I’m frustrated,” and etc. The more “I AMs” attributed authority I give to my pain body to act in my behalf – the more real is it’s power over me.
I instinctively seek to be free of pain – I interpret fight and flight to mean I assign my pain body to fight while I flee to escape responsibility. The paradox – I never escape the suffering, only the pain of accountability.
This assignment of my pain to an imaginary outside entity is a kind of magical thinking, in which I become the damsel in distress waiting in vain for the knight in shining armor to save her from the dragon holding her hostage. My magical thinking replaces responsibility. I still suffer, I just don’t feel as bad about it.
The more I feed and exercise my pain body by seeking to escape accountability for my choices, the bigger and stronger it gets. What you feed grows and what you exercise grows stronger.
The upside is that my pain body is an IMAGINARY CHARACTER of my own creation! No matter how large or strong it gets, it’s still IMAGINARY!
Has a natural process gone awry?
Trying to deal with my physical injury simultaneously with my emotional responses to the pain tends to cause an amplified sense of being out of control while attending inappropriately to the needs of the physical body. I may also experience an elevated feeling of hopelessness that interferes with the normal process of healing. So, I engage my natural ability to dissociate.
Dissociation, in the form of a pain body, is a natural human characteristic intended to act as a temporary solution for the challenges of physical experience. My pain body sets aside my emotions while I deal with the physical situation at hand. Later, I can get back to my emotions and deal with them appropriately.
Nature has provided means for clearing my pain body – sleep, social communication (that includes honest emotional dialog), physical exercise, laughter, and emotionally therapeutic story telling (among many). Modern life sometimes interferes with these clearing processes resulting in a permanent pain body that continues to fill with unresolved painful emotions over time.
One obvious solution to this permanent pain body is to get better sleep, communicate more effectively, get plenty of physical exercise, laugh often, and engage in therapeutic story telling (among many other emotional clearing processes).
Is there only one way?
What about the power of simply taking personal accountability for my life? How does one go about taking personal accountability when doing so might involve a significant level of pain – maybe more than I want to endure?
- Rather than seeking to escape, I could embrace the pain – reintegrate my own power and authority, which I had previously relinquished to my pain body?
- Rather than attempt to avoid, I could intend to understand my emotions as the important counselors they are to me?
- Rather than choose to suffer, I could embody and express gratitude for what I create?