Trying to Avoid Pain


How timid I’ve been about feeling emotional pain. I have spent decades trying to control my environment so that I don’t have to feel the slightest emotional pain, disturbance or discomfort. It hasn’t worked of course, and circumstances that I don’t want happen anyway and I’m forced to feel it.

The car breaks down and needs an expensive repair, the person in front of me drives too slowly than my desire to drive, a client rejects my price and I don’t get the job, a friend is angry with me, a person is rude to me in the supermarket. There are so many events that are not in our control.

I’ve still tried to avoid it, and at a very high cost. A cost to my authenticity for sure. I’ve contorted myself to try and manipulate others to be like me to avoid the pain them maybe not liking me. I’ve engaged in ridiculous levels of idealism to avoid facing reality as it is, when I’ve found it too painful to face. And then there’s the pain of worrying about possible future pain and the time spent trying to risk assess everything to try and avoid it.

It’s no wonder that my mind has been driven by fear to be so busy inventing possible problems and dangers and generating ‘solutions’ that the antenna of the heart hasn’t got a chance of being heard much of the time.

Now I’m feeling the thrill of freedom beckoning and actually experiencing a new happiness and openness. I find myself singing and dancing here in the house occasionally, and listening to happy music. I feel light. Thank you to Michael Singer for these tools.

And I see a part of me that is a little giddy and unsure of this. The mind says “this is all very good but isn’t this dangerous, aren’t you letting your guard down?“. I say let’s breathe into this moment slowly and see where it takes us. Compassion to the reluctant bits that are not used to being happy.

The price of this freedom? Facing and being with the discomfort of inner pain. That is indeed unpleasant and painful. But it’s not going to kill me, and there is an end to it as I’m experiencing already. I’m seeing my extreme irritation at certain situations reduce considerably to nearly nothing after only a few weeks of doing this.

And the reward is massive. Imagine being unafraid of what life might bring our way, knowing that we can handle it. The huge sigh of relief from the absence of self created suffering. The heart opening to allow our natural expression of love and openness and spontaneity and creativity. Life is opening up.

“Delight is a secret. And the secret is this: to grow quiet and listen; to stop thinking, stop moving, almost to stop breathing; to create inner stillness in which, like mice in a deserted house, capacities and awarenesses too wayward and too fugitive for everyday use may delicately emerge.

Oh, welcome them home! For these are the long lost children of the human mind. Give them close and loving attention, for they are weakened by centuries of neglect. In return they will open your eyes to a new world within the known world, they will take your hand, as children do, and bring you where life is always nascent, day always dawning.

Suddenly and miraculously, as you walk home in the dark, you are aware of the insubstantial shimmering essence that lies within appearances; the air is filled with expectancy, alive with meaning: the stranger, gliding by in the lamp lit street, carries silently past you in the night the whole mystery of his life…..”

Alan McGlashan, The Savage and Beautiful Country

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