The Fine Line Between Pain and Pleasure

Both pleasure and pain are unavoidable aspects of life. From birth to death, we experience cyclical ups and downs. Sometimes it may feel like a rollercoaster, other times it may feel like riding the waves of the ocean. Either way, nothing is ever constant in life, even if we try to make it so. The positive and the negative – the pain and the pleasure – are never far away from each other. Just when it seems like the pleasure has “won”, the pain catches up and takes control once again. This is the dance of life.

What is Pain?

Stubbing your toe on a rock. Burning yourself on a hot pan. Being rejected. Losing a loved one.

All of these things seem to be sources of pain, some more intense than others. But what even is pain? I am going to explore this question by determining whether pain is subjective or objective. In other words: If two different people are put in the same painful situation, would they both experience the same amount/type of pain? It’s clear that this is not the case, everyone has their own individual experience that may differ from person to person. But what exactly makes each person’s experience different? What determines the amount of pain that someone experiences in a particular circumstance?

A more important question could be: is this something we have control over? Do we get to decide how much pain we feel, or is it something set in stone? If we can change the amount of pain that we feel, isn’t this something everyone should learn to do? Is it possible to go through life feeling a minimal amount of pain?

While this isn’t exactly the case, something close to it may be true. What if we can actually transform our pain into a totally different experience?

Trying to have CONTROL Over Pain

Pain – yes, even physical pain – can be turned into different things depending on how we interpret it. Many of you may have noticed that when you anticipate a painful event, it hurts a lot more than when you don’t know it’s coming.

One basic example is when you rip a bandaid off. We all know that if you take the bandaid off slowly, the pain is dragged out. However, if you rip it off quickly without hesitation, the pain passes by in an instant. The second method is usually the preferred method, but if someone is terrified of the pain that comes with ripping off a bandaid, they will most likely take it off very slowly. Even though there is less pain when you don’t hesitate, some people prefer to have control over the pain.

We do this in so many areas of our lives. You are terrified of being rejected, so you push people away before they get too close. You are scared of public speaking, so you spend the whole day leading up to your speech a nervous wreck. These examples all include the anticipation of an event being WORSE than the event itself.

This brings me to my point that if we could not “predict” the future, then pain as we know it would not exist.

I’m not saying that pain wouldn’t exist at all, but the type of pain that we are used to would not exist. The fear of a particular outcome that may or may not happen. This is the pain we are used to. It is indirect pain, it is the fear of pain.

What Happens When We Stop FEARING Pain

Now, we’ve settled that most of our pain as humans comes from our fear of pain rather than the pain itself. So, what is pain then? When you remove the fear and anticipation, what is left of the pain?

I’m reluctant to even call it “pain” because that implies that there is resistance. When you don’t resist the pain, it really isn’t pain at all. When you stop labeling the experience as good or bad, painful or pleasurable, it transforms. You are no longer separate from what you are feeling, you are one with it.

Once this unity is realized, “pain” can easily be transformed into pleasure. This is because you can finally see the beauty in what you are experiencing. Even if to your ego it is a “bad” situation, your inner self sees past this illusion. Your soul can see – even as your ego is suffering – that it’s all happening exactly as it’s meant to happen.

You no longer feel like you need to protect yourself from the pain. You no longer tense up. You no longer judge yourself for being sad, lonely, anxious, or mad. You let the emotions come and go. Because they do go. Nothing lasts forever, and while I know this is a cliche statement, it is very powerful. Once you truly understand the impact of this universal fact: “nothing lasts forever”, you stop trying to control everything around you and within you.

Ultimate bliss is when you give up all control. You allow both pleasure and pain to consume you completely, then allow them to pass without clinging. You see the futility in trying to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. Neither of these experiences can be controlled without producing anxiety in the controller.

When Pain Turns Into Pleasure

Did you know that being nervous and being excited are technically the same experience? It’s the way we interpret the experience that makes it either “good” (excited) or “bad” (nervous). Think about it: both emotions involve a jittery feeling, anticipation, overthinking, or even physical symptoms like sweating. However, if the event is something you want to happen, then you label your symptoms as “excitement”. If you do not want the event, then you label yourself as “nervous”.

So, if the emotional state we experience is based on our thoughts, then why can’t we change our thoughts to change our emotional experience?

Answer: we can.

Now, most of us have probably tried to do this at some point in our lives. We have tried to convince ourselves that we do want something, even when we don’t. This approach is counterproductive because you are only creating more resistance by not accepting your current mental state. If your current mental state is fear and anxiety, then allow there to be fear and anxiety.

To transform pain into pleasure, you not only need to accept external situations, but you also need to accept your internal reality. You must surrender to it. There is a power stored in surrendering that is truly indescribable.

You can tap into this power. We all can. When you go through your day today, allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel. You don’t need to “control” your emotions. Let go and feel them fully.

This is where your power is.

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