The Shared Experience of Pain
When I was younger, I always thought pain was solely a negative experience. I would try to avoid it all cost. If I couldn’t avoid pain, I would do anything I could to numb it or dull it. Because I felt that pain was a horrible nemesis, I was furious when I would find myself confronting it. “Why me?” “Why do I have to endure this?” I was consumed by my own existence, and I could not see that there was something beautiful about pain. Pain is a universal experience.
Humans have entirely unique lives. People have different families, homes, jobs, wishes, and nationalities, but all of the individual paths share a common thread: pain. There is not a person on this planet that will not experience pain in their lifetime. Heartbreak, failure, illness and death, will visit everyone eventually. It is one of the great unifiers of human beings. The degree of the pain that we experience will vary, but it will be pain nonetheless. It is an experience with which I can identify just a much as anyone else on the planet.
I used to believe that it was possible to live a life without pain, and when I had to face it, I was consumed with anger. I was searching for somebody or something that could be held responsible. I felt ashamed about how much I was suffering, and was reluctant to reach out to anyone else. “Who was I to be suffering?” “There are so many other people in the world that have to endure greater hardships.” I had no compassion for myself, and I could not see how similar my experience was to so many others around me.
My intention is not to be bleak, but rather to offer an alternative perspective. Instead of wasting our resources to battle an inevitable element of our human experience, we can embrace pain and use it to bring us closer together. When the world is divided in many ways, highlighting shared aspects of humanity can encourage connection and harmony. The more I am able to find compassion for myself, the closer I feel to other people in the world. We face different challenges, but the pain that is a part of all of our lives can bring us together.