Of course pain is suffering. No one in their right mind would want to experience it. Yet we all know it on multiple levels–physical, emotional, spiritual. Of course severe pain always sucks and should be alleviated as quickly and safely as possible. What I am writing about is the pain that all of us face many times in our lives.
As a society we have little tolerance for even the mildest pain and seek its IMMEDIATE relief. We often 'self-medicate' with drugs, alcohol [drug], tobacco [drug], food [internal release of endorphins and other peptides which act like drugs], sex [same] etc.
It is so easy to ignore the " benefits" of pain. Pain is nature's warning system. Without it we would injure ourselves far more than we realize. Individual's we defective pain sensation develop horrendous deformities because they are unaware when they injure themselves even lightly. The horrific image of leprosy patients with damaged limbs and other features is a consequence of their inability to have sensation whatsoever.
Pain tells us when we stub our toes, injure our muscles and bones, have a toothache or even an infection on our skin. We are able to rest those injuries rather than worsen them. We can seek medical attention before becoming overwhelmed by infection. Our immune system responds to 'attacks" which are analogous to pain as well.
Cardiac conditions can be diagnosed before they become lethal as can gastrointestinal ones.
Emotional and spiritual pain is much more challenging to deal with. Yet here, too, we can learn to welcome them as signs that we should not ignore. Failure of any kind is painful but the most 'successful' people in the world could not have achieved their goals without having faced and overcome their own emotional and spiritual pain. These are not all are so easily remedied, but the need to address them is as crucial as any physical ailment. And when difficult times are met and dealt with, we are not the same.
Pain can offer us opportunities to develop our own defense mechanisms. For example, the death of pets offers children an experience of facing and dealing with loss. The failure and break-up of emotional attachments are undeniably painful. Mourning them and moving on gives us the resources to handle future losses when they arise. We can develop and strengthen our physical and emotional immune systems by dealing with pain.
Pain can be regarded as the other side of the coin of emotion that gives us pleasure as well. Because we are such emotional creatures, we are capable of experiencing both the heights of ecstasy and the depths of despair. We CAN'T have it any other way. In fact we NEED to experience both pleasure and pain to know, appreciate and experience the difference.
Pain is also an incredibly powerful metaphysical opportunity for spiritual growth and development. If we understand that we are spiritual beings seeking a human experience than there is none more powerful than how we deal with pain. Our example can offer solace to others and we are so often moved and inspired by the courage of others.
So—while not seeking pain, let's at least try to understand how at times it is actually a gift to us.