Skip to main content

Life is full of unacceptable things. Awful things that should never happen. Painful things we don’t want to be true. And the sooner we accept it, the better.

Sounds a little harsh, I know, but I only say it because I learned this the hard way. Refusing to accept what we wish weren’t true, or should never have happened in our own lives, keeps us stuck in the pain of what is true and did happen. The tendency can be so strong, though. We will do almost anything to avoid painful realities…but as hard as we try, we just can’t skip the hard stuff.

The lesson is this: Pain is inevitable. And as much as we’d like to say it isn’t so, it won’t make it so. {Sorry, folks.} It’s almost as if we think refusing to accept the truth will keep it from being true, or that accepting means agreeing. Accepting doesn’t mean agreeing. It means we give up the exhausting fight that actually adds to our pain instead of ending it. It means we begin to heal.

Just ask anyone who has learned this the hard way, and we’ll tell you it only made things worse. Every attempt to avoid, deny, resist, or replace painful emotions with {fill in the blank}, only ends up creating more misery. It’s a heartbreaking reality I wish weren’t true, and it makes me sick to think of the addictions and destructive habits, the years of depression and despair, that become reality for too many of us. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is…and that’s exactly why we need to say something about it.

Yes, pain may be inevitable, but prolonged suffering doesn’t have it be. It all depends on what we do with our pain. The purpose of pain is to motivate responses that resolve the source of the distress...whether that means taking that irritating rock out of our shoe, going to the dentist before the ache in one little tooth takes over the whole side of our face, or opening up with a trusted listener about emotional pain we’ve been dealing with…or not. Trying to pretend the symptoms aren’t there in the first place, or they’ll go away without figuring out what’s causing them, only leads to more intense and generalized pain that over time becomes…suffering.

Suffering is defined as the repeated failure to act successfully on the natural motivation of pain to do something that will heal, repair, or improve. Prescribed medication, of course, can help manage pain during the healing process, but anything we use to numb instructive pain will undermine its ability to motivate the corrective behavior that will ease…and eventually end…our suffering.

I feel so much better now that I’ve said this…and hope you can say the same. Please consider how you might be prolonging pain by refusing to accept it as an inevitable part of life. And please, please talk with someone who can help you discover what’s causing your pain, agree with you that it was awful and never should have happened, and encourage you through the process of accepting what you cannot change in order to change what you can.

Pain is universal, which allows us to relate to each other…but to say that prolonged suffering is inevitable because of it…? No.

Say it isn’t so!


One Comment