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  • Dr. James H. Gruft

How to face our pain? Dr. Gruft explains.



Once we start to face our pain, we realize that its message is not one of annihilation. Pain by itself, is not out to kill us. The only way we lose if we give up. To break the cycle of pain-inactivity-weakness-pain, we have to be willing to do things that may even increase our pain(without causing injury). We may have to walk into the very fire of pain. If it is an exercise-included, healthy type of pain, it is a price that we are willing to pay. Our decision to stand fast will transform us from an individual who passively experiences pain in a meaningless way to someone who actively, courageously experiences pain in order to regain our flexibility, strength, and dignity.


Without a change in approach, the person in pain and his or her physician can easily get caught up in endless, pointless treatments, with the suffering individual being endlessly referred to numerous health care professionals. At best, these treatment approaches offer only temporary relief. Why? To treat chronic pain as an exclusive entity is to treat it incompletely. As we know from our experience with infectious diseases, to treat someone incompletely with antibiotics can create a more resistant strain of bacteria that might make the person worse than before the treatment began. Similarly, to treat someone's chronic pain incompletely is to leave the untreated aspects lying dormant and festering.


Does this mean that chronic pain is not a signal of injury, like acute pain is? Probably not. Or perhaps it is a signal of a less obvious kind of injury, one that has deeper roots. The pain may be telling us to take a stock of our lives and our present wounds and to look at what we are doing with our life, so we can move forward on our life’s journey. We need to ask the right questions and never stop to ask what our pain might be saying to us, we may never hear it’s message.


We need to see our pain in a greater context: as something deep with us, which cannot be looked upon as purely physical or psychological. Deep pain cannot be just physical, because we are not only physical beings. It cannot be just physical and psychological, because we are not simply physical and psychological. Deep pain is physical, psychological, and spiritual because all three aspects of our life are fundamental to our existence. If we do not take the time to understand what meaning our pain has in our life - how it affects us in present, how it relates to our earlier pains - and if we don't seek to understand its physical, psychological and spiritual components, we cannot put our pain in proper perspective. However, if we truly wish to heal, what choice do we have? We have to do this work. Without knowing where our pain belongs in our life, we will never be able to arrive at the point where our suffering becomes manageable and healing commences.


Looking for a cure can take precious time away from us - time that we could have used in more beneficial ways. We could achieve a far greater impact on our life by facing our pain. This is the first step we must table towards managing our pain so that it no longer controls our life. But how do we manage pain? That is what we will consider next.

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