We don’t need to understand pain

July 31, 2010

I used to make painful moments and circumstances in life far more painful by expecting to understand the pain.  I rarely do that anymore.  Pain is inevitable in life.  It just happens.  Nobody is exempt.  We choose whether or not we want to turn it into suffering by complicating it.

I used to complicate pain all the time by reading deep meaning into it while it was happening.  Even though this never helped.  I would want to know all the reasons why.  I would want instant clarity.  I felt an injustice was done on me if God or someone didn’t deliver clarity of reason to me right away.

Today, “it just happens” and eventually passes.  It goes away in time, every time.  So I am more prone to just grit my teeth, focus on something else positive, and let it pass.  The amazing thing is that some clarity or lesson usually follows at some point shortly thereafter.  I “let” more be revealed rather than “expect” it.

And if pain is getting me down, I have the secret weapon of surrender.  I turn it over.  Let go, let God.

Life is way better.





  1. One of the administrators at the Harbor House in Toledo used to say, “Pick your pain. You can have the pain out there (which gets worse) or the pain in here (which gets better).” I always liked that. I might not understand the reason for the pain, but if I stay sober it will get better. And if I don’t, it will get worse.

  2. SS… for sure. We alcoholics seem to often prefer to remain in pain and to continue to tangle with it, rather than surrender it. We dont in fact have a clear notion most of the time that there is any other way to deal with pain than to engage behaviours that lock it in and make it worse… such as continuing to drink or overprocessing our pain and the reasons for it.

    Surrender and the willingness to accept that things are as they are bring such amazing peace.

    In time, we understand more as we sober up and recover.

    Thanks for popping by.



  3. I think this is one of those ‘control’ issues that so many of us face – whether we are getting sober, getting straight or simply trying to navigate our lives. If we could understand that pain, wouldn’t it be easier to handle? Would it go away sooner? The truth is that in our search for understanding we often mar ourselves in the muck of the problem for much longer.

    Everybody hurts, everybody cries = the question is how long do you let yourself wallow

    • WSM…. most of us let ourselve wallow a long time. We don’t know we are even doing it. Or we don’t have a sense of the severity and dismiss the possibility of our wollowing being harmful to ourselves.

      I have found I never realized that while in pain, I was seldom capable of growing in my understanding because my mind was fully engaged with the pain.

      Yet when I got to a level of acceptance, pain diminished and answers and understanding started to appear. Seemingly on their own.

      Or I wonder, if answers and understanding were there all along, but I couldn’t hear or see them due to my pre-occupation with pain and my pursuit of answers in my own ineffective way.

      Who knows. I just know that I am more poised for growth and recovery when I don’t overprocess or expect to know more than I should at any moment.



  4. appreciating this space right now… your thoughts are relevant, and honest.

    • Glad to hear they have some meaning to you. Ciao. Chaz

  5. Great 🙂 I like. Very ? buddhist. Reminds me of the story of ‘the 2nd arrow’ that the buddha told.
    something like (man who is hit by arrow) says ‘before you remove the arrow, who sent the arrow?, what is the arrow made of? what feathers are on the arrow?, etc etc etc
    showing the pointlessness of questioning these things.

    The Second ArrowNovember 19th, 2005Ajahn AmaroNovember 19, 2005

    its mentioned on this talk..

  6. Thanks IFB…. I suppose I observed one of the same patterns Buddah did. Not much new under the sun. And ya, does it really matter what the arrow is made of? Perhaps at some point, but not at the time that removal is the top priority.

    Survival is more dependent on its removal than the details of how it got there etc.



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