While travelling towards our set destination each passing day, we encounter numerous people walking down the street or during our train or bus ride. Each one manifests a mixture of feelings. For roads have been able to accommodate complex emotions for ages. It has constantly shown a colossal capability to soak in whatever people have to put forward. Some look happy, some confused. Regardless, there are those few who mostly put up a gloomy face. Yet some always get into arguments with others. Some are least bothered, indifferent with a happy-go-lucky kind of attitude. You may find a diversity of emotions on display while we are on our routes.
However, at the point of time when you are particularly having a bad day, you somehow manage to focus only on those who look happy and singularly happier than you. They seem so satisfied with their lives forcing you to ask few dramatic questions to yourself- Why can’t I be satisfied? Why do I suffer all the time? Why can’t I be like them who are always happy? Why is it only me who suffers? Why am I suffering all the time? As for you, everyone looks happy. Hence, you assume that it’s only you who always has so many problems. However, the truth is not what you have presumed.
The truth is they do feel pain and they do suffer, for suffering is inevitable. Everyone battles with such questions hovering over their mind once in a while. We all experience pain in various forms. It can manifest as depressing thoughts, anxiousness, fear, stress, etc. Reminisce of humiliating and embarrassing moments generate situational-based painful memories where we keep reliving the moments of extreme humiliation every time, we think about it.
We also feel pain-psychological pain whenever we stumble upon the painful secrets and memories deliberately set aside in the segregated corner of the room to remain alive but behind the secured doors. Despite being behind closed doors, how can we split it from a possessor? If we abandon the room for a longer period- what occurs to such a room? It might transform into a home for insects, hanging cobwebs covered with a blanket of dirt all around. It endures a dead and rotten look. To bring back life to such a place, one needs to turn the room into an unstained and spotless area by giving it a new look and a breath of fresh air to live in the immediate moment.
Despite all these problems in the form of psychological pain and suffering, several of us chose to create happiness, for happiness is a choice. Others put on a happy face to hide their pain. It might not provide permanent solutions to their problems anyway, choosing to live happily by accepting that pain and suffering are universal gives us the strength to move on. Suffering comes from Latin ferre, which means ‘to bear or carry. Prefix suf means from below, up(hence)away. Suffer connotes the idea that the burden which you are expected to carry is too heavy, and you are unable to carry or lift it.
Psychological pain hurts, but more than that, it often holds us back from living the kind of life we want to live. However, our problems provide us with two sources of pain-pain of presence and pain of absence. We can understand the pain of presence by taking a situation where you want to leave a place or a crowded party to feel better because you feel uncomfortable amidst the crowd. The pain of absence is an extension of the feeling of the same person due to avoidance. She left the party to feel better. It’s not that she doesn’t like parties. Ideally, she likes to be part of it and wants to enjoy them still she is unable to do so due to fear. Such fear leads to an absence of what she wants hence leading to pain of absence.
The more we try to ward off the pain of presence, the more pain we get in the form of absence. You might feel trapped in such a situation. As avoidance leads to more suffering, we become our pain slowly. The constant possibility of psychological pain is a challenging burden that we all need to face.
Life comes with inseparable obstacles that may not go anywhere such as disease, want, loss, etc. However, the ability to use language amplifies the problem at hand. Humans think relationally. However, animals don’t. This ability to be a verbal creature creates suffering. Thoughts relate to events-events evoke emotions-emotional outburst leads to a behaviorally predetermined action.
Hence, don’t suppress your thoughts. Harvard psychologist Dan Wegner has shown in 1994 that the frequency of the thought that you try not to think may go down for a short while, but it soon appears more often than not. More the avoidance, more the pain. Acceptance is the key. Accept your pain and suffering as it is. Engaging in mindfulness-based activities and learning to always be in the present moment might hold an answer to our experience of persistent pain and suffering.
How do you manage your painful thoughts and feelings?
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Reference-Steven C. Hayes, Spencer Smith, 2005. Get out of your mind and into your life.
About the Author-
She is a Child and Adolescent Rehabilitation Psychologist with an experience of over 14 years in the field of Mental Health (Rehabilitation Council of India Licensed Professional). She writes about various aspects related to mental health and more @ pausementalwellnessstudio founded by her. She is M.Phil. in Rehabilitation Psychology. She is also trained in remedial intervention, PREP, and COGENT Programs. She has four Publications to her name. She started her career as a Probation Officer at Observation Home for Boys in a Juvenile Aid Centre. Since then, she has served as a psychologist in various settings. Presently, she is working as a health and wellness expert at St Peter’s High School. She is the founder of Locus-Psychology & Education. She is better known as an expert in dealing with specific learning disabilities, behavioural problems, and emotional issues of children and adolescents. She has expertise in the area of counselling, psychotherapy, and specific learning disorder.