Pain is Not Personal

"Unlike in our own culture where we consider illness or depression to be a personal liability or affliction, members of this tribe are not blamed or isolated in their suffering. Rather, suffering is a shared concern."

The more I study ancient methods of healing, the more I realize how essential it is to recognize that our bodies have wisdom that our celebrated 'logical' minds do not. 

And this does not just include our own individual wisdom. The human race has a collective wisdom based on universal emotionjoy, disgust, sadness anger, fear, and more. I believe this wisdom emerges when we work as a whole as opposed to separate beings. 

In the past year, I have been studying the importance of pain. I know it sounds strange, and even harder to accept - but there is a lot to be learned from pain. When we stay with it for long enough, when we take it as part of our human experience and not as something to be rejected, it transforms into lessons that we can use to better understand the world around us. 

I recently read the book Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, and she confirms the concept that our internal wisdom includes how we live, survive, and move through our pain. Take the story she outlines below as an example of collective wisdom:


With every tragedy in the world - earthquakes, hurricanes and storms, war and violence, rescinding rights from those who have earned them - causes a quickened heartbeat, anxiety, depression, anger, grief - ultimately, the same pain.

That must mean that the ultimate pain is not of the thing we are experiencing.

Our ultimate pain is existence.

To exist is to fear nonexistence. And the way that manifests in the way we are living, whether we are affected by a natural cause or by the hands of others, affects us all. 

That's why when a home is devastated by a hurricane, our homes are devastated too.

That's why when we take away the right to someone's voice, we take away our own voice, too.

We all have the same ultimate pain. Pain is not personal. It is not separated by bodies. It does not affect one body without affecting the other. Pain, although different in each narrative, is the same in everyone.

That is why it is so important to understand when we are afflicting pain on another, in a private or public realm. They are us. We are them.

Pain is not personal - it is universal.