Is Pain Really Yours?

What if the pain that seems to be yours is really not yours? (And here I do not mean to belittle personal suffering, but only to offer a larger perspective that may help alleviate it.) The truth is that fear and anger exist outside ourselves. They are not yours or mine, unless we attract them.

When you learned as a young child to cling to my toy, my candy, my pleasure, my happiness, at the same time your ego started clinging to the opposite: my scraped knee, my broken doll, my sadness, my pain.

Absorbing an experience as “mine” was how you built your self up, developed a sense of individual identity. As we grew, we learned to see this self in a larger perspective, in the context of humanity. But when tragedy strikes, we often regress to this early state.

To counteract this, we need to find the spirit. For spirit can do one thing that your ego craves very deeply and can’t accomplish on its own. Spirit can help the ego escape that painful trap of I, me, and mine.

The ego wants the best for “me.” Yet there is another, subtler force that wants the best for all (which ends up being best for me, in the end). Allow this force to express itself, and you will discover that the walls of isolation are not as solid as your suffering makes them seem.

Spirit gives us access to an emotion that cannot be felt in isolation – compassion. Compassion comes from the root word “to suffer with,” and for that reason many people actually fear it.

Trying to keep out someone else’s pain comes from fear for our own safety; in the name of safety we retreat behind our own private walls. Yet the truth is that your pain and the pain of others are shared. They make you human together.

Adapted from The Deeper Wound: Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2001).

78 comments

Tonya Freeman
Tonya Freeman1 years ago

To feel another person's pain, to feel the pain, the suffering of the world...not a good feeling. I have learned to ask myself, when I am feeling a little off center, "Is this mine?" Depending on what I hear in my mind, determines what I do next. This practice has helped me a lot along my path in life regarding, not absorbing and holding.

Another thing I do at times, is to chant a 'grieving chant.' It is a good way for me to release the hurt.

Thank you.

Abbe A.
Azaima A.3 years ago

thanks

Jane H.
Jane H.4 years ago

A friend's son just died of an over dose of drugs, and I am gireving for him.

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Maria Papastamatiou

Oops! Mistyped. Correct version as follows:
Dear Emily Harrison, I do not know you but I feel for you. Do not worry for the pain you give yours; I am sure that you would have felt the same in their place. In Greece we have a saying "pain that is shared is always made less". Try to understand this. I pray for you and hope for the best.
This goes to show how touched I was.


Maria Papastamatiou

Dear Emily Harrison, I do not know you but I feel for you. Do not worry for the pain you give yours; I am sure that you would have felt the same in their place. In Greece we have a saying "paying that is shared is always made less". Try to understand this. I pray for you and hope for the best.

Beverly G.
bev g.4 years ago

Oh this is all so so true.

myra d.
myra d.4 years ago

A difficult situation. compassion can become debilitating. Life without it is not possible. I guess trying to do something positive to balance the negative energy (compassion) is an idea. Compassion shouldn't be a negative energy though. Again I find myself in a circle of thought and idea. Hmmmm

j T.
jude T.4 years ago

Bless you Emily Harrison, may you find some peace and comfort. x

Becky Y.
Rebecca Y.4 years ago

I wrote this poem some time ago but it fits with this article:

Time does not heal all wounds.
Like misting rain, the hurt
nestles around your body
and forces tears and memories
from your heart
when you least expect them,
exposing your sadness
like a night train
passing intermittent lights.