Life can be a wonderful experience that allows us to be joyous, laugh, play, and share with others, be creative and explore and learn about the mysteries that are all around us. Even though our experiences shape our lives in pretty much every way, whether we actually enjoy life or not depends mostly on us and the choices we make. What detracts from the quality of our lives is the amount of pain our experiences trigger in us and also how we experience and react to that pain. This is also a choice we make, though in both cases choices we are likely not aware we made.
It may seem an oversimplification, but the fact is: if we want to enjoy life more we either have to encounter less pain or learn to deal with pain differently. This should lead one to realize that we cannot exert much control over how much pain we encounter, but we can learn to deal with pain differently. I cannot possible explore every type of pain we can feel, though we will cover a considerable amount of ground. The intent is to share ideas about pain that you can take away, consider and which you can apply to your own lives.
By pain I am not referring to physical pain so much as those pains that find their root in our minds such as fear, anguish, loneliness, despair, guilt, blame and even emotions such as anger and hate. When I say such pains have their roots in our minds it is because even though such pains are experienced at the emotional level, it is our thoughts that evoke emotions we find painful. Further, the thoughts we have, and the resulting pain, are what we manifested and must take sole responsibility for regardless of whether we believe someone else has “caused us pain” or not.
How do we manifest pain? Pain is caused by our reaction to experiences and its source is our own thoughts. Since our pain is rooted in our thoughts, we resolve our pain through the same vehicle that manifested them, that is through our thoughts. Some tend to believe that the source of their pain is external forces or is the result of forces beyond their control. Common notions about the source of pain include the acts of others, accidents one cannot avoid or such things as natural events.
Our experiences do put us in situations that often result in our experiencing pain, but that does not mean the source is external. The notion that others or external forces cause us pain is part of the illusion, an illusion that is the byproduct of our ignorant, untrained and poorly developed minds. The illusion is created and takes hold long before we realize it, if we ever do. We all deal or live with the illusion in our own way. So strong is the illusion that many that are not even aware of it at all, and for those who are starting journey’s of deeper exploration it is remains the “puzzle box” of mysteries (1).
It can be hard for us to accept, or to believe, but the emotional pain we feel is entirely self-inflicted. This may not be a popular idea, especially among those who are dealing with pain right now, or who have learned to blame others or forces beyond their control for the pain they experience, but it is true. And just as there are many reasons for the pain we feel, there are also many ways to deal with it. That said, exploring even a significant number of them is impossible. Rather than that I will look at how we manifest pain as well as some things that each of can do to deal with our pain.
I am a firm believer in self-directed healing. By this I mean that we are the architects of our pain and so must be the ones who steer the healing process. While there are countless reasons for pain, how we deal with pain boils down to just a few options. These options are:
- Blame the pain on someone or something else
- Deny the pain
- Try to avoid the pain
- Blame ourselves
- Try to resolve the pain
There are different ways to deal with pain and there is no requirement for us to deal with our pain in any particular way. One could argue that one way is better or the best; however, each of us experiences different amounts and types of pain and have different capacities to handle it. This is why what one person might shrug off can be debilitating to another. Out of this one would be wise to realize that while people often have the notion that if they can handle something so should others or that if others can so should we, both are fallacies.
This belief does not recognize the fact that every mind is different, not only that, it is a limiting belief. This belief also leads to a tendency to judge others and a sense of false pride or elevated sense of self-worth. It also prevents us from recognizing that maybe they need the experiences they are having, and the pain, to help them grow; or perhaps they simply lack the ability at this time to deal with the pain. Holding such beliefs hampers the development of compassion and sympathy, two emotions, or reaction capabilities that we want to develop within ourselves.
Remember that each of our minds are different because we are unique, have different experiences and therefore different reactions to them. And our mind is comprised of the thoughts manifested by our reactions to experiences. It is also true that we have a great deal of thought forms in common; however, commonality is not equivalence. We often forget that we are here to learn, even though we are likely not aware of what we are learning nor how. This is where pain comes in – it can be our greatest teacher.
Let us go back a bit and consider our lives, for our thoughts about it affect how we react to and deal with pain. To us it appears as if it is “our life”, and that we do with it what we will; however, we are far less in control of this than we realize even though it appears otherwise. We are born, start to experience life and as we get older the combination of our nature and experiences lead us to become who we are today. We simply go about living and along the way we follow our natural inclinations, tempered and in many ways directed by experience.
With every experience we have our mind develops. We learn from our experiences and while we are conscious of some of what we learn a great deal more happens behind the scenes in our non-conscious or sub-conscious mind. In the latter case, relationships between thoughts manifest automatically (2).
Our minds are powerful, and while we go about our affairs our mind learns and thoughts form relationships based on commonalities between the ones we manifest now and the ones we have already. We come to develop certain skills, we pick up likes and dislikes all due to our reactions to and integration of experiences. All of these are things we learn. A significant factor in this, one worth noting, is that we bring in some tendencies and proclivities with us. We have them because they are needed for the lessons we are learning and they influence our reactions to experiences. We will come back to this later as it affects our experiences and subsequently how we deal with pain.
In terms of examining pain, understandings of what thoughts lead to pain and why can be very helpful. Now, many of the thoughts we have are at the lower levels of the mental plane and are simple ones, as they relate to our physicality; our bodies, objects and awareness of the world around us. These are not the thoughts that lead to issues and hence pain; the ones that do this are the thoughts about other thoughts. Among these types of thoughts, the ones with the most influence on us are our beliefs.
Beliefs, which include core concepts about self and others, the nature of our existence, and the nature of the Cosmos and so forth, are the highest level thoughts we have. Next in line are thoughts about other thoughts, an example being our thoughts about politics, cars, homes, container, and foods and so on. You can imagine that each of these is “tagged” with thoughts that come out of our reactions to them. For instance, we have a complex thought (3) say of “car”, we then react to “car” and our reaction, based on previous experiences, associates a quality to it. These are thoughts “about ‘car’”. We even tag simple or mundane thoughts with our reaction to them, an example being what colours we like.
In addition, once we do this we rarely ever think of “car” as just a thing, a thought about “car” includes all these other qualities. We go from thinking about a thing devoid of any save its physical properties to something that we associate qualities with, including the associated emotions. It is almost impossible to avoid this because our reactions to our experiences almost always include thoughts that evoke feelings related to the experience. As a result, a large proportion of our thoughts about other thoughts are the judgments we make such as whether we like something or not.
Let us say that the thought “apple” is a simple thought, while thoughts about apples such as our reaction to how they look, smell and taste, for example are complex thoughts as they are our thoughts about “apple”. So, when we have issues that lead to pain it they are not the result of a mundane thought such as “apple”, they come from thoughts “about ‘apple’”.
Now, you may be thinking that an apple or thoughts about it don’t lead to pain, but this is not true. Certainly it seems insignificant enough as the degree of pain or discomfort seems minor compared to some of the emotional pain we feel; but it is a matter of degree and not kind. Consider someone who does not like apples, for whatever reason. If we try to get them to eat an apple they might react by saying no; however, if we continue to try to get them to eat one their reaction can grow.
Anyone who is a parent can relate to what happens when they try to get their children to eat something the child does not want. Reactions can range from simple refusal to much stronger ones and depend on many factors such as how the forceful the parent is, how the child feels about the food and their perception of repercussions for not doing what they are told and so on. The child might very well eat it, though doing so typically leads to discomfort (of varying degrees), which are a form of pain.
Do not assume that the reactions are a conscious choice. Our non-conscious mind has a nasty habit of evoking emotions and we are not aware of the thoughts that evoked them. This goes back to what I was mentioning earlier about the thoughts and beliefs we manifest but of which we are unaware. Further, it can make issues harder to deal with, even simple ones.
In the above case, the child likely could not articulate the actual reason why he or she doesn’t like apples. Indeed, this is the case for us as adults. We like certain things and not others, some things frighten us and others do not, though I would bet most would be hard pressed to explain the exact origin of their issue. This is especially true with the traits we come in with (the tendencies and proclivities we come in with that I mentioned a few paragraphs ago) and those we develop at a very young age when we are too young to either conscious or remember our precise reactions to experiences nor do we yet have the mental wherewithal to discern it. Trying to get at such memories is the basis of virtually all regression techniques employed by various mental health professionals.
The child likely does not know how to deal with their pain at the time it occurs. We can teach our children how to do so but too few do as it can be a very slow process requiring a great deal of patience and unconditional love. Our pain is the result of the poor programming in our minds. This is one form of pain, namely pain that is the result of our judgments about things. While the mind does not forget the issue we have come to develop with “apples”, this does not mean the thoughts the issue comes from are indelible. However, if we do not remember them consciously, do not address them and they are reinforced over time they remain hidden AND become more rigid. This makes them more challenging to deal with.
Now, the child’s issue with apples is likely isolated from other issues they may have, in which case we could refer to it as a simple issue. By this I mean the child’s dislike of them isn’t strongly connected to other issues he or she may have such as self-worth, feelings of safeness, being cared for and loved and so on (though this is certainly possible). As a result, objective and reasoned thought can overcome the issue. As a simple issue is not connected to other issues, it would be similar to a simple or atomic thought.
The child’s reaction to “apple” could have, for example, been one brought into this lifetime, it could be the result of a negative experience with apples or it could even be based on something they heard. In any case, if the child is capable of applying objectivity and reasoning, it could perhaps discern that there is no “rational” reason to dislike apples. In this case the child may come to simple have a preference to not have an apple, but does not react negatively to doing so. In fact, this is what many adults do when they decide to get over their aversion to particular foods.
In an earlier essay I spoke of how experiences led to my developing an aversion to macaroons, in particular to the coconut in them (2). Over the years it lay dormant, and I essentially ignored coconut. It only resurfaced consciously when I was starting to focus on developing my awareness and growing personally and spiritually. The trigger was being offered a pastry with coconut in it. At the time I was feeling great, and working on being more in the now, so when I reacted negatively I noticed the feeling of aversion. Not being comfortable with that feeling I immediately paused and asked myself why rather than simply say no.
At that time I was working on my rational mind editor and as a result, the number one answer came through loud and clear- that answer being the memory of the event where I’d created the thought in the first place. This generally does not happen for most people nor even I all the time, as such thoughts are often buried and possibly reinforced by subsequent experiences or have become wrapped up in other issues. This makes it harder to get at the source.
When we have a very strong reaction to an experience, a rule of thumb would be that it is either an issue that has been reinforced by subsequent reactions, ones that contain strong lower emotions, or it is connected to other issues where this is the case. Arguably the former is easier to deal with than the latter as such would be “simple” issues (as mentioned above). This means that the issue is not tied to other issues and so to get back to the source of the issue is more like following a straight line path that is a series of directly related experiences, figuratively speaking.
When issues become wrapped together they become like a ball of knotted string and so one must “tease” the knot bit by bit to loosen and eventually unravel it. In this situation, you follow one issue or thread for a bit, work on it, and then find you are following and working on a different thread, perhaps at the same time. One would be hard pressed to telling the difference between the two at first, but when we work on it we soon can tell if it is one or the other.
We know that issues lead to discomfort or pain, whether we notice it or not; however, we can only deal pain we are conscious of. Assuming we are conscious of our pain the obvious question is how do we deal with it? If we go back to the list of five choices near the beginning of this composition and consider them we should notice that the first four are essentially just the opposite of the last one. This is because there really are only two choices, we try to work on it or we do not and the first four choices are examples of not working on it. Further, the fact is we will not work on it until we are ready to.
If we look at more significant discomfort or pain, a common ways people have with it is to redirect their pain, often masked as a different emotion, at someone or something. One can come up with all kinds of reasons, sometimes referred to as excuses, to not deal with pain. In addition, have a vast array of justifications we can readily call on. We may even believe that our justifications are sound, perhaps even righteous or appropriate.
The underlying mechanism that is manifesting our pain is how we have “programmed our mind” to respond to experiences. When we have issues that lead to pain, then our thoughts are evoking energies, and if we don’t deal with it we must do something with the emotional energies we are manifesting. In this case, the energy manifested is, as mentioned, redirected. In the case of denial, we try to block out the energies we create most often by keeping other thoughts active, and trying to avoid is trying to shield oneself from having to face our painful reaction to the experience.
Another way we deal with pain is to blame ourselves. When we do this we are directing the negative energy at ourselves. This method is potentially more harmful to us because not only are we not dealing with the issue; we are also directing the emotional energy at us. When you consider pain this way it should be obvious that we will remain in pain unless we deal with its source.
One might be inclined to say “I can’t let it go”. However, this too is a belief. If you have been following what I have shared you should be able to see that we are the creators of our thoughts, even those born out of impulses we came in with. Since we are their creator’s one could look at it like we are their owner’s. We manifested them, we can change them. Of course to do so one must first believe they can.
Dealing with strong emotional pain, such as what can accompany a job loss, the end of a relationship, serious illness, acts of violence or the death of loved ones, is certainly challenging. Not all the challenge lies in resolving the pain directly, for first one has to work on getting to the point where they can face it. This is where justifications come in.
I am by no means belittling the pain of someone who is suffering greatly by saying we justify it. I am merely pointing out what we are doing, and not judging our doing so. How we react, whether by blaming, denying, avoiding, self blame or a combination thereof or we deal with it depends on our beliefs. In the case where do not deal with the pain directly, we are aware of which “strategy” we are using by our justifications for not doing so as this is where they come from.
For instance, one might justify blaming an attacker for their pain based on beliefs such as:
- The attack was wrong
- No one has a right to attack another
- The attacker knows it is wrong
- The attacker is responsible for my pain
These all seem like reasonable notions to have, at least the first two examples do. The third one is based on the notion that we and the attacker share a similar sense of right and wrong or awareness thereof. Just because we “know it is wrong” doesn’t mean that they do. You can then argue that they should but, in terms of our pain, what the attacker knew or didn’t know is moot because our pain remains either way.
Understanding the last example takes a little leap of faith. It is based on the idea that no one can make us feel any particular way, we react as we do because of how we have learned to react. Therefore, we are responsible for our own pain. And this is why all these beliefs are moot. If we are in pain and want to end it, it doesn’t matter that we believe what the attacker did was wrong or that the attacker had no right to do it or that they knew it was wrong or that I have made them responsible for my pain. Do any of these thoughts end the pain? Or am I simply trying to substitute one pain for another? And trust me, when are locked in blame or anger we are in pain, even if it appears to “make us feel better”.
Even in the case of the most horrific events, we really can either live in or with our pain or we can face it head on. This is where our beliefs about the nature of our existence, who and what we are and so on take a prominent role.
To work on such issues we must start to consider our beliefs, for a great deal of the pain people experience is rooted in them. As examples:
- Do we believe that we have a right to a peaceful and happy life?
- Do we believe people do not have the right to cause us issues?
- Do we believe others can ruin our lives?
- Do we believe that bad things shouldn’t happen to good people?
- Do we believe our God should shield us from harm?
- Do we believe that not getting angry or hurt etc. shows we really don’t care?
- Do we believe that our loved ones should always be there for or with us?
- Do we believe that people who do bad things should pay (retribution) for what they do?
- Do we believe it is okay to direct our negative emotions at those we perceive to have harmed us?
- Do we believe that people who do such things actually KNOW better?
No matter how we choose to try to justify what we do with our pain, all of these beliefs limit our ability to let go of the thoughts that evoked the painful emotional energies we are feeling. It can be very hard to release our pain if we have thoughts that allow it to remain. If you look at the above list I am sure you can add to it with your own examples of beliefs. By holding such beliefs and others like them, we surrender control over our emotions to others or simply giving it up in general. By doing this we are giving away our power.
I know how experiences can hurt; we all have had such experiences. There is nothing wrong with feeling some of these things for a time. The problem is that this period of time never comes to an end and the pain remains. Sure, over time new experiences push the memories into the background; however, they do not go away and because they affect how we react to experiences they can significantly affect the paths our lives take. In essence, they are boat anchors, and if we have enough or they are strong, we can become stuck, bound by and to them.
Releasing the pain we have is not easy, but it is because of such things as our general reluctance to change and limiting beliefs more than inability. You might say that it isn’t that simple; however it is. The strong emotions we manifest as the result of someone causing us harm are the result of our beliefs. It is our beliefs and reaction history that determine how we react to events in the now, whether we are aware of them or not.
Consider the idea of having none of the above beliefs. How would you then react to something that normally results in pain, whether the source is internal (ex. something in us such as a feeling we are missing in our lives, self esteem issues etc.) or external (due to someone or something beyond our control)? Some would say that to be this way would be to be an emotionless person, devoid of feeling. They say such as “How can you not get angry?”, “It is right to be angry!”, “How can you not hate them for what they have done?” or “They should pay for this!” Those who think this should consider that painful emotions are not the only ones we can feel.
Others will say that the reactions above are natural. To this I would suggest that - of course it is natural, nothing in nature is unnatural; however they are still learned responses. If they were not learned responses and hence unique to the individual, we would all react the same way or close to the same way to similar experiences - we know this is certainly not the case. It is one thing to be saddened, to be hurt or angry for a spell, it is quite another matter to allow such feelings to continue unabated.
To release our pain we must either forgive, in the truest sense of the word, whom or whatever we believe to be the source of our pain, or we need to find the source belief and change or eliminate it. When it comes to forgiving, it often comes through an epiphany or in a moment(s) of total clarity. This only happens when the person is ready and open to an idea or to change completely, when they have surrendered. It comes with a sudden shift in one’s “vibrational state” and does not happen by accident. Often the ground work has been laid gradually until the person becomes able to let go. The other way is what those who decide to face their pain do, they pursue a way to end it, whether successful or not.
The fact is, whether we like it or not, there are no guarantees in life. Life is about change, change that is both relentless and without remorse. The beliefs I listed about are all only relevant because we make them so; they are personal truths, not universal ones. The Cosmos does not care, certainly not in the sense that we know caring, how we feel about our experiences.
No matter how strong our emotional reactions to events are, we are still left with a choice. We can choose to live with the pain, as in one of the four methods I mentioned at the beginning, or we can choose to try to end our pain (our pain being the lower emotions we manifest). We may choose to live with it if our beliefs allow us to justify our reactions. The more we justify our lower emotional reactions the harder it is to resolve them. This is because of the simple fact that when we justify our reactions we are not taking responsibility for them and we cannot resolve what we do not own.
I have heard many people say such things as “I will never forgive them” or “I cannot get past the pain”. Doing so only perpetuates the pain and locks us into it, but it is an illusion. Further, use of words like never and cannot create powerful mental barriers, yet again, they are just thoughts. Nor are our thoughts rigid by any means, they change as we experience, and no thought is, as I mentioned, indelible. This is how our memory of past events shifts. The only way to release the pain is by figuring out what thoughts or beliefs manifest the pain (from the list above) and recognize and fully and completely accept that they are not true. We must depower these beliefs.
When it comes right down to it, life owes us nothing regardless of any thoughts we may have to the contrary. We have the right to believe we should have the life we desire, whatever that may be; but, this is not the same as having the right to actually lead the life we have come to want, desire or feel we deserve. Life is a gift to us; it does not owe us happiness.
There are many ways to go about finding the limiting thoughts or beliefs that are the source of our pain. Regardless of what method is chosen, all rely on one key component, activating thoughts that trigger the pain we are working on relieving. It is only by getting the exact emotional energy associated with the pain that we can activate the thoughts that manifest it or at least ones that can lead us to it. I mention this latter point because often our issues are complex, as I mentioned above, that is they are either buried beneath or entangled with others. We may have to resolve other erroneous beliefs before we can work on the core one that leads to our pain. It is worth noting that our pain is rarely the result of a single core belief. Typically, with issues and pain, is a confluence of beliefs. Working through them takes time and steady effort as it is not unlike untangling a massive knot.
So, we start with the pain we feel, which of course means we must be aware of our pain. Perhaps the following example will help by giving you something to consider in this regard:
When I was younger and was without a place to live someone let me stay with them for a period. I slept on the couch in the front room and often in a very deep sleep such that noises did not awaken me. The person I was staying with had gone out, locking the door on the way but left the keys inside. When they returned and couldn’t get in they tried everything to get me to wake up as I was just a few feet away from the from room window. They banged and yelled but I didn’t wake up. They ended up having to call a locksmith to unlock the door and it was not cheap. I got an earful when they came in and woke me up. They blamed me for their having to pay for the locksmith. To them the fact that their having left the keys behind wasn’t my fault did not seem to matter. And the anger persisted for a number of days.
Now, fast forward roughly twenty years. I was talking to this person on the phone about the idea of buried hurts and how they remain with us. They argued that this wasn’t the case. What I did was retell the above story to them. Well, I touched a nerve, for what I got was an immediate reaction, the same one that had came out so long ago, the person became loud and angry and blamed me all over again for it.
Once the person calmed down we talked about it and they began to see what I meant. Now, they didn’t release all of the anger for they still blamed me in part because they didn’t want to accept that they could have been so wrong. They did this because if what I was saying was true then they were responsible for all of it, not part or even most of it and their blaming me was “wrong”. Nonetheless, they did let go of a considerable portion of it, and could have released the rest if they chose to.
Once the memory was triggered the person remembered the event. Essentially their memory was the same as mine, except for who was responsible for their having to call and then wait for a locksmith as well as having to pay for the service. So they had lived with the pain, in this case it was primarily blame and anger, and it had never gone away. It was consciously forgotten as so many events are and became buried beneath years of other experiences.
Unfortunately, burying them does not eliminate them, further, the thoughts or beliefs that led to their reaction remained untouched. In this case the person was angry they couldn’t get in their apartment and had a ready-made object to which to attach or direct their blame, me. They did so because of their own erroneous reasoning, namely they believed I should have woken up and didn’t, therefore I was the one actually responsible for their being locked out. They could have realized that it was their mistake that led to the problem, and taken responsibility for it rather than blame me, but they did not. While this was one example, and not a big issue, it was not the only time in their lives that mistaken notions and erroneous thinking would lead them to manifest strong lower emotions.
In this example, it was relatively easy to see where the erroneous thinking came into play. It is not so easy in cases where we lose someone we love or endure some person injury or loss due to the actions of another or even acts of nature. That said, regardless of the source of our pain, we are the ones who choose to either live with the pain or work to find a way past and beyond it.
In this case the person might have never found the pain nor been able to locate the source of it, if I hadn’t mentioned the event. What I did was remind them in enough detail that they remembered the event and the emotions came pouring out. As we talked about it, the emotions led them to some of the thoughts that gave rise to the emotions and even a good glimpse of the belief connected to the thought.
Our pain always has an anchor or source be it a single belief or a group them “working together”. Even our strongest pains such as loss of a loved one or perhaps debilitating harm to our person, have an anchor. Why are some people able to move on from such events where others seem unable to? It is merely their beliefs about life that enable them to do so. The ability to handle pain is related to ones beliefs and reasoning processes and so on. How we handle issues that arise are also due, in part, to a form of beliefs that grow steadily with time - beliefs that we know as attachments.
When we have something for a long time our minds start to assume it is always going to be there. One of the mental byproduct of such burdens of the past is the imagined future. We do not often realize it, which is to say we are not conscious of it, but our minds continually extrapolate the future based on the past. Remember, most of us do not live in the now. We live in the past, one not necessarily based on actual events but on modified memories of them, and the future. So when we have a loss, such as that of a loved one, not only are we dealing with that, we are also dealing with a loss of someone who has always been there in our minds as well as the loss of the imagined future that loved one was supposed to be a part of. This amplifies the pain we feel because not only have we lost this person in the present, we can feel robbed of the imagined future, or the extension of the past, that they were a part of.
Yet, again, life owes us nothing, not even the future we imagine. We can rail on about what we have lost, hold onto our pain, anger or hate or whatever particular lower emotion(s) we manifested, but the fact remains that by doing so we are continuing it, not relieving it. Nor are we likely to even try to release it when the pain is strong or we feel fully justified in our reaction(s).
Releasing our pain does not mean that the other person is absolved of responsibility for their actions. We cannot do this even by forgiving them. They are still accountable for their choices and the karma that results. Karma is, essentially, the consequences of our choices and no one can avoid their karma. Sure one can appear to, as in the criminal who gets away with things their whole life, but we do not just live one life and what they manifested will have to be resolved in a subsequent life. This may not be enough consolation for some, especially when the loss appears to be great or even insurmountable, but it is the way it is. No amount of complaining or wishing otherwise will change this simple fact.
Moving past our pain begins with the choice to do so. There are many ways we can come to this choice. It could be that we simply come to the decision that we cannot live with the pain anymore and recognize that blame someone or something or denial and avoidance do not end our pain. This can be very hard to do if we belief that life owes us something or anything at all.
In the Awakening Our Gifts series we looked at how to develop our higher awareness and examined a number of areas we need to work on to develop our natural gifts and awareness. In that six part series we looked at ten areas that were grouped into three categories as follow (4):
- Modification: The creation and development of rational mind
- Preparation: The impact of our thinking mind on us (how it affects our thoughts, energy and awareness) which we can change
- Alignment: Developing and expanding our relationship with the Cosmos
You will notice that what I have discussed so far is similar to points one and two. We create our rational mind and the poor programming that leads to our suffering and pain is the result of taking on needs, attachments, fallacious ideas and beliefs and so on. As a result of the poor programming we have issues and challenges perpetuating our pain. The parallels are strong enough so that we can take the same approach to healing our pain as we do to awakening our awareness.
We must recognize that we are the source of our pain lies in our minds and then we use our adult thinking mind to examine our mistaken beliefs and resolve them. It can take some looking to find them, but if we are persistent we can do so. However, even when we find them we may not be able to modify them without the last stage, that of alignment.
Clearing out pain requires us to, in a very real way, surrender. Not a surrender that is a giving up, our pain is caused by our thoughts, and these are what we must surrender. If one is set on clearing the pain, they must find the beliefs that lead to their pain and find a way to let them go. This is made harder when we try to cling to these beliefs that are not a reflection of the “way things are”, a number of which I shared above.
Our ego stands in the way of the path to alignment with our “true self”. We do not control our lives; we have the illusion of control. Our mind is our creation and we created it by our reactions to experiences. The problem is it is our clothes, and not us, yet once we have constructed it we start to rely on it exclusively. Once that happens it becomes very protective and can even sabotage our efforts. Well, the beliefs that are part of it do that. I spoke about this in Awareness and Consciousness (5).
“We believe we have free will, and while we do, we rarely exercise it. We live our lives mostly reacting to the influences upon us rather than acting from our soul, if you will. The more clothes our soul has, that is the more programmed our minds are, the less we are able to act. We do certain things because they are habits or because the influences affect us particular ways and so forth. We tend not to notice this because we are reacting to influences rather than noticing the influences themselves. People who see events in the future are getting a translation of the influences that will occur if things progress as they are now.”
If we can even in part let go of some of our ego we begin to glimpse the oneness of which we are a part. This will help us to change the limiting beliefs or thoughts I mentioned earlier. Our ego makes our pain personal; it ties into our fight or flight mechanism something for which it was never intended. When pain is personal, it is hard to let go of; however, when we start to get past “I“ and start to see “we“ and the ALL, the beliefs that cause our pain are reduced and our pain with it.
The below is also from the essay “Awakening our Gifts Part 5: The One and the All” (4):
“We are an expression of the Cosmos and each life is established as a result of the needs of our higher self not the lower self or “us”. If we want to fully develop our gifts then we must come to understand this and align ourselves with it. This is not easy to do for we have lived our whole lives as if we independent and are free to make choices and our ego’s become quite strong. The ego protects itself, it wants to remain in control; however, our awareness is restricted by the illusion of “I” we have built, and this illusion must be torn down in order for us to have greater access to our true gifts.
We get beyond this by aligning ourselves with the Cosmos, even if we do not quite know what that means. If you have started to work to reduce the notion of independence from everything then the next step is to embrace the interdependence or inter-connectivity we all share. This requires us to realize that everything and everyone is important, that they matter. And with this realization we begin to understand that the struggles we all go through are a necessary step in the process of our higher selves awakening. This leads us to compassion for everything and everyone, and to extend our love beyond ourselves and a few select people to ALL.”
Earlier I mentioned the notion of personal versus universal truths. When we take our lives personally, and this is entirely understandable as from the perspective we tend to learn, it is the only life we have. We cling to it as it is pretty much all we know. We not only take our lives personally, we do this with everything. We tend not to see beyond on our myopic view of reality. We want or need “this, that or the other thing“. Without it we are unhappy, that is to say we are in pain. Well, life owes us nothing, and there really are only three things we need to survive and live, all the rest are ones we have programmed ourselves, our minds that is, to expect, want and need.
We get stuck in the personal will or need trap because we have done this for millennia; in a way it is a habit we humans have taken on. For all that we come to expect, want and need or desire, in the grand scheme of things there are only three things we actually need. These three needs are water, food and shelter from the elements. When we consider life this way we come to realize that everything else is a bonus not a requirement.
We should enjoy what we have when we have it, and not come to expect it. If we feel pain it is because we have allowed ourselves to need and want so that when we do not have what we need and want we hurt. If someone we love passes we miss them, but we hurt more for ourselves than them. If they are taken from us by someone, for example, we blame that person, we feel they had no right to do what they did, that it was wrong and so on. But the fact is we have no right to expect that person to always be there and we have no actual understanding of why the person did what they did. We certainly ASSUME they knew full well what they did, but we do not know how their lives programmed their perception of reality, of right and wrong or of anything else for that matter. These are what we NEED to be true to justify our reaction to our pain and nothing more.
Sure, we should look at what happened, consider what we might have or should have done differently, but to hold onto the pain we feel does not help us, it only diminishes us. Yes, painful reactions are understandable; it is allowing them to continue that is the problem. Still, this said, maybe the person who feels this way has to experience the pain, and may never choose to let it go. This is not “bad“, it simply is.
Everyone’s lessons are different and while some are learning to rise up to the light others are learning how dark it can become. The only difference between the two is choice and no matter how dark it has become, even if our higher self has chosen this lesson for us to work on and no matter how far we have painted ourselves into the corner, there is always a way to release some or even all of our pain.
So, those who seem unable to escape the dark can still do so if they summon the will. How we help our will is by using our reasoning skills and powers of observation to recognize, at the same time as we dwell in our place of darkness, that how we are reacting may not be in our best interests. There is nothing that says one has to learn the lessons the hard way. If the mind can be made aware of its misconceptions it will churn these over in the background (in fact this is what typically occurs prior to an epiphany) so that an act of pure WILL can actually shift what appeared unmovable.
There are no set steps that one follows to release pain, though, as I mentioned, the first step is identifying the pain we feel. This can be more challenging than some think as we often have lower emotions or pain that we are completely unaware of. For example, we can have minor disappointments, frustrations, uncertainties, fears, concerns and many other emotions all occurring when something big hits us. The combination of these can make it hard to discern exactly which thoughts are causing the pain we feel.
As a side note, this is why it is important that rather than just moving past lower emotions, even minor ones, we should examine what we feel, consider why we feel this way and recognize our own folly so we can more easily let them go and not carry them forward with us. Unfortunately, few of us do it at all, we shrug it off or breathe or find some other way to calm down and move on. Getting past this requires that we pay attention to our reactions and to what is going on in our lives (6).
Now, the first step is to isolate the pain we are feeling. This applies regardless of whether it is minor or major pain. We can do this either by remembering the feeling we had or by going through the event that triggered it in our minds with as much detail as possible. If one is using the memory of the event, they must pay attention to the feelings that are triggered by the thoughts. Of course this assumes one has developed some sensitivity to energy, for without this external assistance may be required.
After "finding the feeling” we then give the energy of our pain a voice. Remember, just as the thought or belief evokes an emotion, the emotion can lead us back to the thought that gave rise to it. So, if we let the feelings be there and speak words that match or are “in-sync” with the feelings without holding back, doing so as honestly as we can possibly muster we can give our pain that voice. What that voice says, our voice of course, is the thought that manifested the feelings that are our pain.
What is important is what is our feelings are saying. We can do this many ways, through meditation, automatic writing, working with someone to help expose the pain (various forms of talk therapy) or through one of various forms of regression therapy that try to help us get back to the “original pain“. I personally prefer meditation, though one must have developed a fairly high level of honesty or at least be able to tell when what they are thinking is “true or not” because one is not speaking the words, one is more knowing the words.
Having we find the thought or thoughts that gave rise to our pain we start to examine them. We need to see where they are ego driven and a product of a personal perspective instead of a more “Universal one“. Let’s use one of the examples of erroneous beliefs I listed, namely the belief that “…we have a right to a peaceful and happy life” as I have touched on what “rights” we have earlier in this composition.
If we believe this statement, then anything that we believe affects our peace and happiness will lead to a lower emotion. Why? Because the thought is not accurate, not in balance with the way things are. What one has to do to change this thought is to first examine it and understand rationally why it is not accurate. In this case it is the fact we do not have such a right at all. We have the right to want peace and happiness, we have the right to strive for it, we even have the right to allow ourselves to need it; however, having it is not a right in and of itself.
When we understand what our “error” was, namely the invalid belief, the next step is to clear it. One way to do this is to consider the thought enough that we completely get the error in it; though this method generally works better on weaker and unreinforced beliefs. Another way is to use a method I’ve touched on before, namely of creating the new belief in Part 5 of the Awakening Our Gifts series (4), one that will figuratively replace it, and one that is in balance.
The trick to working on such thoughts is to do one of two things; one can manifest the new thought, as mentioned above, as a truth on its own, and then empower it, rather than trying to oppose our existing false belief directly or one can opposite directly and eliminate it.
Continuing with the example of one’s “right to peace and happiness” we could manifest a thought such as “I have the right to want peace and happiness”, though one must have no other conflicting beliefs around what “valid wants” are because this could still allow us justify it another way. Another might be “The Cosmos owes me nothing” or “I do not have the right to peace and happiness”. Again we must be careful as we can have other beliefs that can catch us. An example of the risk would be our holding a belief such as “I don’t deserve to be happy” or “I am nothing to the Cosmos” as these are also fallacious.
We make it a new belief and then we start to empower it. To try to change a long held belief with a new one is very, very hard to do. One is not likely to be able to contemplate it and then see that it is erroneous and let it go as one would a simpler one. What is easier is to develop and begin to empower the new belief to the point where we completely accept it as true. This means we may have to address other related but equally erroneous beliefs along the way. If you are doing this, be diligent. Letting up on it will either allow the existing belief to retain its control or allow the new one we are developing to fade.
With the new belief is embraced and empowered we can begin to challenge the erroneous belief with it. We do this by thinking of the old belief to the point that we think of it consciously and can speak or verbalize it. The next step is to, as we hold this in our mind, bring up and focus on the new one we have created. We then direct our new one at it, a new one we completely accept which is no longer true of the old one. We forcefully tell ourselves, using all the will we can muster, that the new belief is our truth. We direct our thoughts and words in opposition to the belief we want to overwrite. If you try to do this with words, best to do it when you are alone and away from people as it can get noisy!
The conscious mind, when focused, is the director of non-conscious mental activities (often referred to as subconscious activities). What the above method does, in a way, is shines our minds inner eye on the faulty belief so that it can see this clearly. So long as we are focused on the new do not hold onto the old belief it will lose its cohesion and dissipate. Of course, one may need to do this a few times to ensure it is dealt with.
The other way is to directly oppose the thought, such as simply using its negation, “I do not have the right to peace and happiness”, with NO qualifier thoughts. We can do this verbally as well, in a similar fashion to above but rather than just empowering the one until the other one fades, we direct the new words right at the old thought. Remember, I am speaking figuratively and not literally. Or we can convert the words to a wordless state, into an energy or vibration. I would not call it a feeling because we are using matter of the mental plane, not the astral. In a figurative way, the energy or vibration of the though could be conceived of as latency or potential, and whose potency is the emotions. Remember, the word is the representation of the thought at the physical plane, just as the emotion is a representation of the thought on its own plane.
I cannot explain this further to you in words, it either resonates with you or it does not. We then direct this energy at the “old thought”. To do this we must imagine the old belief and ensure that the image IS actually a representation of it. This is similar to the “hate the hate” method I included in the essay "And What of Evil" (7), except in this case we are just directing one energy, the negation of the old belief at the old belief. This takes an act of will and you must focus your attention when you do so. Here is an excerpt from that piece:
“The second method would be one we primarily use on ourselves. Let us say we hate others of a different race or culture. That hate can consume us and in the process we will generate karma will either have to resolve in this lifetime or another. We want to destroy this “evil” or hate. One can try to not be hateful, but that merely locks up our “good energies” and only holds it in place. What we do instead is hate hating. This turns our hate upon itself and requires only our force of will and does not lock up our “good” to do so. It may seem odd that this could work, but I assure you it can. The only caveat is that we must hate the hate in direct opposition not at an angle. That means one must understand exactly what it is they hate in order to do so.” (7)
I use the second method and do so primarily during meditation, after grounding, clearing and centering myself. This way my mind is far quieter and I can isolate both the new and old belief. I then perceive the energy either visually or by feel so that I can direct the new one at the old one. Our minds are powerful, so if we can focus our attention on the new one and force it upon the old one, we can “overwrite” it. With stronger beliefs I may have to go through this several times. It is important that I have taken care of any related issues first otherwise they will interfere, further, we must make sure that the new belief is not just different than the old one, but is also its exact opposite.
I will not kid you by stating that this process is easy or that by doing it you can clear any belief. First of all, one must have the sensitivity to perceive the emotion(s) clearly. Then one must be able to articulate the thought that gave rise to it, be able to manifest a new one that is essentially diametrically opposed to the old one and exert the will to overcome the old belief.
In addition, the older the belief is or the stronger our attachment to it, the harder it is to deal with. But this is an effective process we can use to resolve issues. If you are intent on trying this method I suggest gaining some experience with small or minor issues to gain the skill, confidence and personal power that you will need to tackle more difficult ones.
Dealing with pain is not dissimilar to how we deal with grief. Indeed, the two are often tied together whether it be loss of a loved one, perhaps becoming personally disabled in some manner, a loss of “face“ or a job or any one of a number of things. Mental health professionals talk about the five stages of grief (sometimes listed as seven). They are denial, anger, bargaining or dialogue, depression and finally acceptance.
Some say these are natural stages everyone goes through, perhaps they are, but they are not the only way to go about dealing with pain (of which grief is an example). We can follow this path, though it can take time to do so, yet even having gone through the stages we can be left with unresolved pain. This is because we often come to accept the pain or loss; this is not necessarily the same thing as ending the pain which requires us to let go of the thoughts or beliefs that gave rise to our pain. Accepting pain is not necessarily the same as being free of it. This is where some have difficulty as I mentioned earlier. Namely, many come to believe that they will have to live with some loss for their whole lives, that the pain of that loss will never go away or that it is “our burden to bear the pain“, but it is the belief that makes it so.
Some even believe that pain is a natural burden to bear. This is a self-fulfilling belief. I ask you, why is not okay to move on and let things go completely? We do not have to forget someone who mattered to us and whom we lost, to let the pain of their departure go. We need to be thankful that we had them for the time we did and let go of the expectations we created. It can be hard; there is no doubt about it, but it is possible to do so. We can long for them because they mattered to us, but letting that go does not mean they didn’t matter or we do not care, it only means that we are no longer going to cling to what we mattered to us before, we are no longer going to cling to our pain.
As we work through our pain it is also important to find things that allow us to express our highest qualities. We need to try to find joy in our lives by being thankful that we are here at all, to feel gracious for what we have and to allow our compassion and devotion to something more than ourselves. We react negatively to our experiences because our minds are not balanced and poorly programmed. In addition, we may not realize it, but our pain can prevent us from helping not only others but ourselves. We can miss what we need to do when we are in pain, we can be so captured by it that we cannot give of ourselves to others or to ourselves. It can cripple us and render us impotent and unable to act when we need to and it can keep us from doing things we either need or love to do.
A mind in balance does not react negatively to experiences; it is at the very least neutral to them. Negative reactions to our experiences are the result of imbalanced or out of sync thoughts. Sure, one may react with anger or hurt in the moment, or even sadness (sadness, in and of itself, is not a negative emotion). And pain can be a powerful motivator and even a force for “good”. But with all that I have said what matters most is our choice, namely do we stay there and live in and with the pain or do we try to move past it, living our lives as best we can with what we have “been given”?
I know this is can be a challenging topic, and you do not have to believe any of what I have written. My only intent was to share with you my perspective on pain so that you might consider it. The reality is that pain can do many things: it can motivate us, it can steer us in new and unexpected directions (even ones we didn’t want) or it can bind us to the past and prevent us from enjoying our gift of life and what it has to offer. We all have a choice. We can let our experiences run our lives or we can take conscious control over our reactions to our experiences.
“What defines us is not the painful experiences we have endured, though one is certainly welcome to believe this, it is how we rise to the challenges our pain presents.”
© 2012 Allan Beveridge
Last edited September 26, 2017
- Our Puzzle Box (2 parts)
- Our Mental House Part 2: Thought Dynamics – The Practical Side
- Our Mental House Part 1: The Dynamics of Thought
- Awakening Our Gifts Part 5: The One and the All
- Awareness and Consciousness
- Paying Attention to Our Attention
- And What of Evil?