Day 19 of The Work: Do you believe life should be free from pain?

This Tricycle Daily Dharma quotation reinforces Byron Katie’s work:

We suffer because we marry our instinctive aversion to pain to the deep-seated belief that life should be free from pain. In resisting our pain by holding this belief, we strengthen just what we’re trying to avoid. When we make pain the enemy, we solidify it. This resistance is where our suffering begins. ~ Ezra Bayda, “When It Happens to Us”

Next time you’re feeling emotional pain, I invite you to examine whether a “should” is involved. “Shoulds” are always beliefs, as far as I can tell.

Imagine (that is, make up stories about) what you believe should happen.

Now think about what you believe shouldn’t happen, and create two stories. In one, imagine having no resistance to what shouldn’t happen. Just let it unfold and witness it. In this scenario, if there’s pain, there’s pain, but there’s no drama or story.

Then create a worst-case scenario, complete with lots of drama and a compelling story!

Just see if you can do this. Now you have three options.

The point is, how much do you add to your own suffering? Without the story, the pain can just come and go, and that’s it. It hurts. You move on.

How we got the idea that life should be free from pain is something to be curious about. It seems to me that if you have a nervous system, pain is inevitable. (Although I have gone to great lengths to avoid it myself!)


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