Someone we love dies. Someone betrays our trust. Someone puts us down in front of others. Aside from physical accidents pain often comes into our lives through relationships with others. When it arrives we can seem unable to find ourselves in our daily living as if we had just stepped out of the elevator and onto the wrong floor, leaving us bewildered as to where we are. It can take time to get our emotional bearings but at some point we need to actively work to transform our emotional pain into something positive and useful.
Unfortunately if we are accustomed to making decisions according to our feelings we can find it difficult to do something positive when we don’t feel like doing it. If this has been our usual way of making decisions, pain by definition cannot possibly “feel” good… can come to feel like a maze out of which we cannot seem to find our way. What to do? A long time ago I learned that when I felt depressed I also tended to wander into being immobilized by that feeling. I don’t remember how it happened but I eventually stumbled upon a way to deal with my depression in-specific and pain in-general: stop focusing upon myself and my feelings and go out and deliberately do something for someone! I found that by embracing the asceticism of inconveniencing myself on behalf of someone else I slowly forgot about my own misery!
What do I mean by inconveniencing myself? I don’t feel like doing anything and yet I make myself go food shopping for a shut-in. Go work in a food kitchen for the homeless. Go drive someone somewhere who doesn’t have a car. In short, GO! The secret is to stop idolizing our own pain! I know this is easy to say and not so easy to do especially when we are enrobed in pain. And yet we need to remember that it is all too possible to become addicted to being miserable! Some people are never so happy as when they are making themselves and others miserable, which doesn’t sound healthy at all! In the end, especially when we don’t feel like it our own pain diminishes when we turn around and deliberately work at making some happiness for others.