Good Pain vs. Bad Pain

My wife constantly teases me when I murmur after a tough competition, running a marathon, or completing a 200-mile bike ride. When my body hurts all over, I feel it is important that she is privy to that information with regular updates. She perceives that her husband is a little nutty because he constantly self-inflicts pain, experiences sore muscles, aching feet, a tender tush, and sometimes nausea associated with pushing the physical limits.

She may not fully appreciate what drives someone to that limit, but this is good pain. Whether it’s following a rigid workout routine, struggling with a complex relationship challenge and discovering a breakthrough, or pushing yourself mentally to overcome a personal addiction, they all have associated pain and discomfort.

Such pain is good pain. Pain is by nature neutral. It is neither bad nor good on the surface. It’s the cause of the pain that drives the bias. If I choose pain because I want to grow, learn, connect, succeed, or achieve, the driving cause of the pain allows me to push through the discomfort because I value positive behavior and the results of my system. Hence, I can imagine the results of my efforts.

Bad pain is the anti-thesis. Such pain stems from dysfunctional behavior driven by the internal pain of not connecting or stunted growth. This kind of pain is more intense, frustrating, and the pain often turns into suffering.

There are two axioms in life:

  1. We are hard-wired to connect
  2. We are hard-wired to learn, grow, and constantly change.

When we don’t connect or grow, it hurts. If we don’t process the situation in a healthy manner, we develop a false narrative (bias) about life, and we find ways to mitigate the pain. The mitigation process creates stores of unprocessed negative energy within the body that eventually turns into chronic pain and illness.

Over 90% of chronic pain and illness are preventable, assuming one is willing to go through good pain to eliminate the bad pain. Pain stemming from addiction is bad pain. Pain stemming from dysfunctional parents or family of origin is bad pain. In other words, it’s not your fault you are dealt the cards in your hand, however, it is your responsibility to exchange them for different cards.

A prevailing hindrance to eliminating bad pain is the perception that it will hurt more than the existing pain if one attempts to change. Another common myth, usually perpetrated by on-lookers and well-wishers, is the idea of rock bottom. When they hit rock bottom, they’ll change. Such a concept doesn’t exist.

Rock bottom is an individual “tipping point” where the fear of the perceived pain of change is now less than the known pain of continuing in the addiction. For many individuals, there is no rock bottom as they remain eternally in their addictive state or commit suicide to escape the pain.

Waiting for someone to hit rock bottom doesn’t work. The tipping point comes when they perceive the pain to change is less than the existing, known pain of their current situation.

Chronic pain is driven by years of dysfunctional behavior which is caused by false narratives. False narratives are the results of experiences, usually from early childhood, starting in utero.

The first step is to recognize and accept the reality of your pain. If you have bad pain, acknowledge it.

The second step is to take action to reduce or eliminate the false narratives, which will reduce or eliminate the harmful (addictive) behaviors, which will start the process of reducing or eliminating bad pain.