All the pain, the sorrow, and the discomfort we feel, makes us stronger. This is difficult to accept whenever we go through difficult situations. Often, we get stuck and see no way of getting out. We go around in circles, deceiving ourselves into thinking we’re going somewhere, when in reality, we’re headed nowhere.
To develop your ability to handle pain, first make the choice to be tough and to withstand the difficulties life throws at you. Then act the part. You must go through situations that force you to be a tougher person. This way, you develop the skill through real experience.
Pain brings with it pleasure. Sorrow and joy come hand in hand. Whatever happens, you can learn something from it and be better for it. How you respond to situations that affect your life, will determine whether or not they benefit you.
The guitar is made from the wood of a tree. Before it can be a musical instrument and produce beautiful melodies, the tree must be cut down, dried, cut into pieces and reshaped. The wood gets sanded, painted, varnished, and nuts and bolts are attached to it. All the parts are glued together and left to dry. The strings are placed and then tuned. Finally, you can play the finished guitar, and if you know how, you can make amazing music. The wood had to go through the pain of being chopped down, cut, sliced and carved, to get to the pleasure of making sweet melodies.
The four noble truths that Buddha taught were:
- The truth of suffering – There is suffering in life from the beginning to the end.
- The truth of the origin of suffering- The reason for our suffering is desire.
- The truth of the ending of suffering – Suffering can be ended by detaching from desire and attachment.
- The truth of the path to the ending of suffering – There is a path that eliminates suffering.*
If you are trying to avoid misery, you’ll end up experiencing misery. In order to put an end to it, you have to face it and accept it. We tend to shoot ourselves with two arrows, as Thich Nhat Hanh says, in No mud, No lotus.* The first arrow is a situation that causes us pain and suffering; the loss of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, the failure of achieving a dream. The second arrow, is due to our beliefs. We over exaggerate the pain and suffering and create a domino effect of negativity. As Hanh says, “we need to learn to stop shooting ourselves with the second arrow.”
First, you have to realize that happiness cannot exist without suffering. Both of these things are only momentary. They do not last forever. They are constantly working together.
Every day, as Hanh says,
“Every birthday we celebrate life, we also celebrate death and the passing of time. They are happening together, at the same time…The flower when it wilts, becomes the compost. The compost can help grow a flower again.”
The rain, the clouds, the sunshine are not the flower, but they are part of what helps the flower, become a flower. Without these, there wouldn’t be a flower.
Our suffering also comes from our resistance. As Osho says in, The art of living and dying,*
“the pain often disappears if you flow with it.”
How can we do that?
- When you feel pain or suffering, use statements like:
- “Such are things.”
- “Such is the way of the body.”
- “Hello my suffering, I know you are there.”
- “Good morning my pain, I see you. I am here. Don’t worry.”
- “This too shall pass.”
- Locate the pain, sit in silence and just observe it. The more you look at it, the stronger the feeling and the easier you will see where it’s located. Oftentimes, it disappears after this. The cause of the pain may reveal itself to you. If it comes back, repeat the process.
- Practice letting go. What would happen if you lost all the things you consider to be important and necessary to live your life?
- Concentrate. Focus on the moment. If you find yourself focusing on the past or other things that are not occurring or going to occur, be thankful that you are not in that situation.
- Practice meditation and breathing.