Most of us are challenged by pain and suffering as we make our journey through life. This often leaves us with bitterness, resentment and the anger. Other troublesome  feelings could be depression, helplessness and even hopelessness. It leaves us with age – old question of “Why?” and even specifically “Why me?”

Many of us are inclined to get stuck and remain embroiled in our suffering. This refrains us from dealing with it in appropriate ways. Our suffering therefore remain festering wounds and the easiest way is perhaps to suppress and even deny it’s existence as far as possible. In this way, we hold on to our “woundology” as a favourite author of mine, Carolyn Myss, calls it.

The choice of suppression is however very destructive because whatever we suppress in our subconscious minds doesn’t disappear and affects our health, mental and emotional functioning adversely. The link between physical illness and suppressed pain has been proved undoubtedly by science in the recent decades.

Our pain is therefore something we should bring to the surface and deal with it in meaningful ways. In my own life, the severe emotional pain others have inflicted on me have had an upside as well. My English teacher taught us that “Human beings can only grow through pain.” With meticulous hindsight and reflection I have come to the crystal clear realization that my most painful life experiences have been the primary impetus for personal development and refinement. They provided me with invaluable lessons and opportunities for self – improvement in every area of my life. Not that this was an easy process in the least.

Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz, formulated a way of looking at pain in the Psychology model he developed after his dreadful, inhuman camp experiences. He called it Logotherapy which in short comes down to finding meaning in suffering. He wrote that suffering is a call in life to find meaning in pain at some stage. It means ascribing alternative values to pain. His book, “Man’s search for meaning” is a “must  read” for everyone of us at some life stage.

Pain and suffering is part of our human existence. Why this is so, will remain a mystery to us as human beings. The only productive way to deal with this is to eventually discover what constructive we have learnt from it and how it was able to add to a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.  Remember that this is an ongoing process through our lives and that magic wands do not work in this case. Do the following exercise in your journal:

  • Reflect and write down what has caused you intense pain in your life.
  • How have you dealt with it and how are you still dealing with it?
  • Write down potential learning points and lessons you have derived from this.