Life is much harder if we’re convinced it shouldn’t be.

Pain comes to us all, but it lands much harder when we think of it as something we shouldn’t ever experience, and not simply as life’s “cost of doing business”.

The reason for this lies in how pain works.

Pain has two sides to it:

  1. The feeling of pain itself—we can’t do much about this, it’s what it is.
  2. The feeling of suffering that often comes with it. This comes from how we interpret the pain—and it’s the part we can modulate.

A small scale example is the difference between an injection versus an accidental needleprick—or worse, a malicious one. Exact same needle, but you might find the injection prick less painful than the others.

Pain is pain. Suffering is rooted in how we understand it.

In a similar way, there’s research suggesting we find events more traumatic when we know someone’s behind them. Things like natural disasters are painful, because there’s a sense of randomness to them. But when someone chooses to hurt us, that cuts deep—our sense of suffering is far more profound.

But it’s still part of the cost of living, isn’t it? To trust is to risk betrayal. To love is to risk loss. To live is to risk death.

As Hogarth says in The Iron Giant:

“Things die. It’s part of life.”

The Iron Giant

Pain is the cost of doing the business of being human.

Published by Doc Ayomide

I’m a medical doctor with specialty training in psychiatry, and I love thinking and writing about what it means to be human.

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