Pain is the most common illness experience on the planet, yet those that suffer are often treated poorly and endure stigma for feeling pain, which is a normal human emotion and reaction, like cause and effect. When you stub your toe, you yell, Ow! and feel pain. However, when pain is emotional, mental and spiritual; society tends to view pain differently.
Known as the dark night of the soul, the storm, the suffering, serves a purpose. It endows you with vital resources for personal growth. The happiest people are those who have undergone hardship to emerge with deep wisdom to share with others, your response to hardship is measured by your attitude, and mental resilience and how you interpret how events shape your life. There are only two choices when facing hardships: rise to the challenge and overcome it, or retreat into despair.
The Centre for Pain Research at the University of Bath and Professor Chris, Director of the Centre, present another way to look at pain by asking, What is the point of pain? The Centre states, we are foolish to think that modern science can banish pain altogether. It is designed to be protective, an alarm system.
Suffering affects both personal and professional lives and when not dealt with, pain negatively affects well-being. If you are not going through some form of suffering now, chances are someone close to you is. Therapist Dr Todd Hall speaks about the myths, truths and growth in suffering by posing the question: ‘How do you suffer well?’ In other words, how do you grow through suffering?
Suffering initiates a search for significance. It is important to make sense of, and find meaning and purpose in suffering and growing past limits creates vulnerability. We all need one another and nothing is certain or uncertain, they are both illusions. Humans cannot predict exactly what is going to occur so letting go of sureness of an outcome brings vulnerability.
Sharing experiences and emotions is healthy. When you suffer, you need to talk about your experience, and part of becoming a loving person leads to receiving love well so when suffering appears, and one chooses to grow through suffering, sensitivity and empathy occur. You are no longer lost in your own pain, rather, quick to help others get through their own suffering. You have to process your own pain enough to be able to focus on others in order to respond with compassion.
Have you heard of The ACE Test or Adverse Childhood Experiences Test? There are 10 quick questions about adverse childhood experiences that link to adult conditions, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The purpose for this test is to show you your own self-efficacy and resilience in spite of the trauma you experienced. Once you get your score, pay attention to your suffering and think: I have endured a lot of suffering, and in that pain, here I am, existing and happy, successful and doing, creating and sharing, loving and living and become grateful for the experiences because without them, you would not be the person you are right now, beautiful and empowered.
Instead of thinking of yourself as a victim, think of yourself as a survivor. You may never know how powerful your words and actions are, or ever realise the impact they make on other’s lives. Empowerment is an unstoppable force for good. A few words from a loved one or a stranger can change the way you think and proceed. Buddha stated: Bliss is found when one lets go of satisfying personal, material and not true needs, and instead, allows life to simply flow.
In the words of Helen Keller, character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul is strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
Susan Marie is based in New York. She is a poet, writer, author and broadcast journalist. Susan is a mental health advocate.