Pain is an unavoidable aspect of being alive. No matter who you are or how you live, the experience of pain will befall you eventually. Being willing to experience that pain is empowering, while living in avoidance of pain has many unseen consequences. Once a more accepting disposition is embodied one is able to process through and learn from pain, rather than suffer it’s demands in a cyclical manner.
So much of your struggle and suffering is the result of an avoidant relationship to pain. It’s hard to see the consequences of avoiding pain because they are not always experientially linked. For example, one might distract themselves from some immediate emotional pain using entertainment. In the moment the pain is alleviated suffering and resolved the issue, however, the consequences of avoidance eventually come.
Some consequences of avoiding pain
Dulled experience– When your cognitive and perceptive systems are tasked with reducing painful experience they do so by numbing all experience unselectively. The result is an overall dampening of your experience of being. Beauty, love, humor, and intelligence are diminished by this process.
Growing shadow- life is traumatic for everyone regardless of circumstance. From the first moments of life we are overwhelmed with unfamiliar and uncomfortable feelings. We may initially store these experiences in the psyche to be dealt with at a safer more appropriate time. If however we live in avoidance of this historical pain, rather than process it as it comes, we continue to build a backlog of unprocessed emotions. These emotions form the basis of ones self concept and influence all thought and action.
Reduced fulfilment– when pain is unacceptable to you the most fulfilling aspects of life are lost. Hard work is painful, growth is painful, being a body is painful, love is painful, death is painful, change is painful. You cannot have these things without pain.
Loss of wisdom function– wisdom arises when one sees the functioning of a system in its entirety. By artificially suppressing pain we lose access to an experience of the whole. Such an incomplete experience of being leads one to have only a caricature of what is so. From this caricature we act and think less powerfully.
Weakness– the habit of pain avoidance has the effect of atrophying your ability to endure difficulty and overcome adverse situations.
An experience of fragility– this habit can begin to create an experience of yourself as fragile. You’ve been sending the message ‘I cant handle this’ to yourself and eventually, that message will be felt as true.
Addiction– the primary means by which we avoid pain is through distraction. Your chosen method of distraction will inevitably become an addiction.
Childishness– one aspect of maturity is the willingness to experience pain for the sake of a higher good. A child is one who simply avoids pain and seeks pleasure. The child’s mind does not know better. But you, an adult, are granted intelligence which allows you to see the necessity of hardship.
More pain- by making ourselves ignorant of our own pain we inadvertently lose access to the resolution we seek. In so doing we continue to cause pain by repeating the behaviors or thoughts that caused the pain in the first place.
Ineffectiveness– effectiveness is a function of relating accurately to the event of being as it occurs. By avoiding pain we are avoiding the event of being. Such avoidance renders an incomplete perception and so we are unable to relate to reality.
Loss of presence– presence is your ability to permeate your perceptive field with awareness. When certain regions of your experience are actively avoided such awareness is hindered. Rather than being engaged with the moment you are busy nullifying thoughts and perceptions.
Lack of compassion– compassion is a function of one’s willingness to experience the pain of others. No sympathetic pain, no compassion.
Self-abandonment- the pain you are avoiding is an aspect of yourself. To avoid it is to neglect yourself at a time when more loving attention is needed.
Loss of profundity– without the acceptance of pain you must live in a dream of your own making. This dream is small and dumb compared to reality witnessed on its own terms.
All of this can be avoided simply by opening to pain. The more you do it the easier it gets. Eventually, you will be a master of pain. You may even come to experience the bliss which precedes and underlies pain itself.
Simply notice your moment-to-moment fixation with avoiding pain, suffering, and discomfort. Contemplate that tendency in the light of this article while trying to become more conscious.