Are you trying to win the war, or trying to abandon the battlefield altogether?

Loving your stress

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The worst part about chronic pain is, you start to live your life in ways to accommodate your problem, and as a result, your world becomes narrower and less flexible.

All of your resources are servicing the dysfunction, and so, there’s no time left to live the kind of life you want to live.

That’s the difference between pain and suffering. Pain is the physical sensation in your body, suffering is the emotional layer of resistance and frustration and confusion and hopelessness that you create in reaction to that sensation.

And that’s something aspirin can’t fix.

Back in my workaholic days, when I hadn’t yet mastered the tools to process my stress in healthy and efficient ways, my stomach hurt all the time. All the time. Nothing too high on the pain scale, but the discomfort was significant enough that it disturbed my life consistently.

Thankfully, my therapist taught me to establish a more constructive relationship to my pain. He said that trying to get rid of pain only amplifies it. Anything we resist, persists. Any over determined action products its opposite.

The goal, then, isn’t to take the pain away, but learning to live with it more effectively. To soften yourself toward it, rather than tense up around it. Even to love the pain, if possible. To give thanks for it as information indicating that something has gone wrong and needs my attention.

Initially, the whole philosophy sounded like bullshit. I resisted this new system for processing because it wasn’t clean, simple, fast and exact. Like so many people with stress problems, my mantra was, hurry up and relax.

Why should I meditate for twenty minutes every morning when I could just scarf down a handful of antacid tablets and get on with my day?

Once the reality of my struggle with chronic pain fully dawned on my naïve consciousness, there was no doubt it in mind. My deluded wishes for the pain to go away weren’t working. Something had to change.

Over the next few years, I change my relationship to the discomfort. I learned to notice the pain, but also the suffering layered on top of the pain. I employed meditation and mindfulness and gratitude and journaling and therapy and yoga and breathing and incantations and exercise and whatever other tool I could get my hands on.

Eventually, my stomach stopped hurting and I started surrendering myself to the vitality of the moment.

It was like opening all the blinds and windows in my house and finally allowing life to flow through.

Are you trying to win the war, or trying to abandon the battlefield altogether?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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