Connect To Change

In recent times I have acquired a different view on what change means and how it works. Generally change is understood as I am changing. The fact that we use it as a verb however, does not mean I am the subject of the process. We have created a world where I am the center of my story, and every other person of theirs. Be it in evolution or in nature. We tend to forget nevertheless, that there is a lot more than me, you and us in this world. Not everything is palpable, but it is does affect everyone, including the world around us.

The idea that change is something that should be initiated by me, is exactly what has come to struck me as odd. Once I relieve myself of the idea, change is not as surprising, confusing, and confronting anymore. The world within and around me is always moving, even without my conscious interference. Nevertheless, when my attention is needed I can trust my body, mind and environment to communicate with me. I will feel uncomfortable the moment I start walking wrong.

Change Signals

The signals I receive however, are not always directly pointing at it’s origin. Feelings of insecurity and general discomfort might arise as a consequence of a toxic relationship. Then, when we take a look at our environment; we tend to develop strong connections with the places we live in, and work at. A new environment we tend to compare to what we already know, instead of viewing it as it is. A stimulus that might indicate our environment demands change, does not necessarily need to come from my (social) environment. This might just as well be back pain, confusion or a lack of sleep.

The confusion that arises as a consequence of these change signals, I believe to be the result of the values and thoughts we hold towards them. Originating more from our formal education, upbringing and social environment’s values, than they are our own. Therefore, to synchronize with this process can be confronting before it is liberating. To realize that the direction I am moving, is different than what I have always perceived as important, can be unbalancing.

Letting Change Happen

The gain is though, that once I engage with the process instead of resisting it, life gets interesting around every turn. This perception of change is something that results in no day being the same. To run with it is not only highly satisfying, I believe it is also a trainable capacity. Noticing every signal for what it is when it comes to my awareness, will allow me to engage quicker in this unfolding, and with less insecurities. Ultimately, I know that change is not solely a capacity, but rather a synonym to life.

 

The Thing About Pain

In the previous two blog posts I wrote about living a “Fear-based life” (click here for part 1, and here for part 2). There, I spoke about how fear corrupts and undermines our life and the decisions we make in non-lifethreatening situations. Our natural response is to steer clear of these fear inducing situations. We tend to respond likewise when we experience pain. In general, we do not want to experience pain, and we tend to stay away from positions, situations and relationships that provoke such feelings.

Pain on a physical level is usually a sign of tissue damage. However, it still is a subjective experience, subject to what we believe, what our environment believes and what the consequence of the pain might mean to our current life. Nevertheless, pain does not necessarily need to be provoked by something physical. Also, non-physical traumas might provoke pain. Divorce, the death of a closed one or the memory of a car accident all might provoke pain. This experience both of physical and non-physical origin, can be experienced alike. Whereas, the origin of the pain might be different, the remedy is usually the same. This means, to get away as far as possible by either blocking it out or by using medication.

Personally, I have been in a variety of situations where I would be around people, both familiar and unfamiliar to me, when I was in pain. Often, the first response I would get after saying that “I am hurting” is; do you want pain medication? Hereafter, I usually gape like a high donkey for a couple of seconds. And I wonder, how did these two things get connected so well together? Does feeling pain mean I need to take pain medication? I am not experiencing pain in the first place, because I forgot to take my pain medication, right?

From my point of view, we have stigmatized pain so much, that the majority of people try to avoid it as soon as they feel it. Nowadays, there is a whole industry capitalizing on this idea. The pharmaceutical industry earns billions, just because we do not want and get to see the value of pain. Instead, we are made to believe that we need pain medication to solve this.

However, in reality pain is a beacon to let us know where action is required. Therefore, it is actually one of the most valuable guides to aid in recovery, both after physical and non-physical traumas. After a physical trauma, it tells you exactly when you are doing too much or maybe too little to recover your body. When the origin is non-physical, it informs you of the importance of this traumatic experience. Take the death of a closed one for example. The experience of pain and loss is natural and will usually be experienced by everybody. Still, there are a lot of people that do not want to experience these feelings, just because they are considered as not nice. Thereafter, we are trying to push the pain out of our life instead of processing this loss.

Accepting that we are feeling pain though, might be the best pain medication. Signals coming from our body and mind that we ignore, tend to become stronger. Apparently the message was not clear enough to make us behave accordingly. At the same time, avoiding it we give the sense of pain such a high value of dislike, that afterwards we have to deal with this sensation as well. In the meantime, we end up behaving tense and nervous because we made part of our human experience off limits.

However, when we are able to revalue the pain experience we directly let go of the tense behavior as well. After, we can look for a way to solve the origin of the pain. After a physical trauma, this means making the right decisions to enhance tissue repair. After a non-physical trauma though this means dealing with the origin of the trauma head-on. Feeling the pain, talking about it and trying to give it the right value. This way the memory attached to the trauma can be accessed without fear, and experienced without destabilizing us later on.

Also, by accepting the pain experience I noticed that it becomes a lot more bearable. It still can be an intense feeling but after seeing it for what it is, a message, the whole thought process of dislike and the energy spend on it, is gone. Where in the beginning, the pain might also create a feeling of being overwhelmed, overtime you notice that this goes away. By listening to your pain it’s intensity can be reduced and a healing process can take place. The nice thing is, that without taking pain medication you can trust that when the pain declines, you are doing the right thing. However, when you took pain medication, it is impossible to know if what you are feeling is reality.

In conclusion, from my perspective the stigmatization of pain is not serving us in any way. Rather, it is holding us back from dealing with its origin head-on. As soon as we accept the feeling of pain, we can revalue it and act accordingly. Instead of being traumatized by the feeling, we actually solved the trauma and can continue our life with another valuable experience in our pocket.