Updated: Jul 7, 2020
Most of us carry around some form of pain or suffering. Suffering can actually be the strongest motivator for your personal growth, and therefore your "best friend." However, you have always the choice to end suffering at any time, and it is also not needed to grow your level of consciousness (LOC). Let me explain in more detail below.
I also wrote a self- assessment guide to determine your own level of suffering at the end of the article if you would like to have a closer look at your level of suffering (LOS).
However, let's first clarify on the definition and terminology.
Pain itself is defined as per IASP (International Study of Pain):
“An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”
Pain usually is not experienced as pleasant.
We distinguish further between physical or emotional pain.
Physical pain is related to your body, while emotional pain is related to a thought that you believe is true.
Pain itself happens always in the current moment, the Now!
Let’s say you bump your head against a wall. You feel the pain right now in this moment.
The duration of the pain can be short, but can also last over a longer period of time (possibly even become chronic pain).
Pain itself is not good or bad. It is just a sensory or emotional experience. However, if you identify with the thoughts that may arise when you experience the pain, it may trigger a feedback loop of negative thoughts.
For example, let’s say you feel you are stressed and your chest feels tight. A thought arises “Am I healthy?”, followed by “Maybe I have a heart problem ...”, “Will I have a heart attack shortly?” …
Observe that the thoughts continuously become more negative, as you identify with them and don’t question whether they are actually true. As a result more powerful negative feelings, such as anger or anxiety arise.
These powerful emotions give rise to suffering.
You are in a state of suffering, because you believe your negative thoughts to be true. You identify fully with them.