Clean Pain? or Dirty Pain?

Life is a crazy, unpredictable journey of ups and downs.  Pain is a universal experience that we all face at some point.  The trouble is we go to any length to avoid pain, pretend it’s not there: anything to make it vanish.  Based on Buddhist philosophy of samsaras, emotional pain is divided into two groups:  clean pain, considered normal and dirty pain, considered unnecessary. 

Clean Pain

Clean pain takes courage to move through. It translates the situation as it happens. You may feel hurt, sadness, anger, go through a natural cycle of grief and in time the pain lessens. You choose your authentic truth over your inner fears.

This healing never happens in the head… it’s all about the body.

Dirty Pain

Dirty pain takes the same life experiences filtered through a punitive mentality.  Instead of dealing with the situation, we ruminate and as a result of repetitive thoughts, projections and the stories we weave about how wrong this is or how unworthy we are.

These interpretations tend to be negative and judgmental. Dirty pain is blaming yourself or others for the situation and can contain distorted evidence about the experience that either we are bad, unworthy or life itself is innately dangerous.  It can derive from unrealistic, harsh judgements from ourselves or others. We decide from the distortion that this pain must be eliminated from our life at any cost, frequently fostering harmful avoidance behaviours.

An unnecessary pain that produces enormous suffering.

What Now?

Avoiding emotional pain can seem like a great idea, but never is.   You gain short-term relief but it always comes back.   All emotions must be metabolized and your system will endlessly hunt for ways to process the ignored emotions.  Denial is useless and may be harmful.   

As we gain more understanding of clean and dirty pain and witness how it plays out in our life, this upgrades our capacity to question ourselves. Shifting us from “why does this happen to me?” to a more open outlook of “what is this pattern showing me?”  We all have ways of thinking and habits that no longer serve us. We can start to slow ourselves down to make this reactive behaviour more conscious.

Having more compassion and curiosity is an empowering step forward in changing the energy of our reality.

What to Do

  1. BREATHE: take a breath. Allow your natural inhale and exhale. Be with your in breath and your out breath. Pause.  Notice. See if you can stay present with it for 20 seconds.
  2. NATURE: brings us back to life. To breathe in nature restores and rejuvenates. So connect with nature or perhaps you have a pet. Either calms your nervous system and reconnects you to your body. Take a walk, touch a tree or hug your pet.
  3. SENSES: brings balance. Receive self soothing through your senses: listen to music, take a bath, taste or touch something that brings you comfort. Use your sensory system to welcome calm back in.

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