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Pain: Our Overly Helpful Friend

Beyond the classic superhero line-up, have you heard of "Darkman"? Long story short, he is an anti-hero armed with artificial skin technology and more importantly, an inability to feel pain.

There are actually people born with physical conditions where individuals are desensitised to the sense of pain (hereditary neuropathies). Unlike how this was touted as a superpower, people living with this condition often have to extra careful since they lack general feedback on pain.

The Importance of Pain

One thing that fascinates me about life is that wounds leave scars while pleasurable experiences tend not to leave any permanent marks. It is almost as though it is nature's way of not allowing us to forget about some painful experience and more importantly, the lessons learnt from this experience. In other words, pain helps us learn faster and remember longer. (There is some truth in sparing the rod and spoiling the child I guess)

Pain is the feedback that the body sends to the mind about the dangers or threats that the body is or about to experience. In fact, thanks to human's amazing thinking and imaginative capabilities, we are able to simulate and make predictions of the future. When used proactively and objectively, we can make rational decisions and increase our odds of success. However, as emotional creatures, we cannot avoid being affected by the attached emotions such as fear, stress and concern. As such, we should recognise that while it is good for us to remain objective regardless of the situation, it is natural for us to feel fearful about uncertainties and a seemingly bleak future.

Pain is our Ally

There are numerous approaches to cope with pain.

  1. (try to) ignore it

  2. Fight against it

  3. Accept and acknowledge it

  4. Lean into it

It is quite clear that approaches #1 and #2 are our most intuitive responses towards pain and I am sure we have experienced how ineffective they are. The more we fight/disregard it, the stronger it fights back.

Instead, let's appreciate that pain is a form of feedback and signal which our mind and body use to caution us against present/future risks. It is useful for us to acknowledge Pain and appreciate why it causes us to feel this way. It may be warning us of something based on our past experiences, which may or may not always be valid. For example, a past painful experience from public speaking may cause us to develop a tremendous fear for future presentations. But do recognise that we do make progress in our skills/knowledge/experiences that invalidate our historical data.

Let's learn to work with this (sometimes overly) helpful friend and we will come to appreciate the useful insights and support that we can gain from Pain!

There will be growth, even in the harshest conditions!

Thank you for reading! Concerned over being able to manage pain? Do not worry as you are more adaptable than you think (click on the link to read more)! Share with me your thoughts below and have an awesome week ahead!

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