By Jay Timms : There is this picture you have in your mind of what the world should be like. How people should treat each other. What relationships should look like. What kind of lifestyle you should have. How many children a “good” mother/father should have. What your body should be able to do. You have a picture for literally everything in this world as it should be. (You will notice that many of these previous examples have the word “should” in them. When you hear, speak, or feel the word “should”, you know that you are operating through your model of the world). This model of the world has been designed, created, and crafted by none other than yourself. This model comes from the experiences you have had in your life, including culture, country of origin, your family structure, and what you have chosen to take from these experiences.
Unfortunately, pain comes from experiencing life that is contrary to our internal model. It comes from living in a world that is not as it “should” be. Unfortunately, pain is a fact of life. It is inevitable. There is no possible way that we can go through life and experience it exactly the way that our model of the world suggests it should be. Often people will do amazing tricks in their minds to try to ignore and/or avoid pain. They will make up excuses, run from the problems, and even delete information from their consciousness in order to “forget” the pain. The challenge with these tactics is that the mind never forgets. The unconscious is always aware and will bring these things back to your consciousness usually and the worst and most inconvenient times possible.
Suffering is deeper and has longer lasting repercussions. Suffering comes from experiences in life that produce pain, or experiences that are contrary to our internal model of what “should” be, where the individual feels absolutely powerless to stop the pain. Often these life conditions are expected to last for a very long time, or possibly forever. Examples can be sickness, disability, financial hardships, natural disasters, and even physical oppression by others. What may come as a surprise to many people is that while pain is inevitable, suffering is actually optional.
I understand that some who are suffering will read that comment with contempt, or with an attitude of “how would you know about the suffering I have gone through”. My intent is not to compare “trouble piles”, but to show you something that I have learned through the years as I have experienced pain and suffering. Through suffering, we have 2 choices. The first is to endure the pain and continue living the way that you have been living for so long. To tell you the truth, if you do this, you will eventually die from the pain. Stress is the #1 killer in North America. Remember, long term pain where a person sees no end to the pain is suffering. You can see suffering in the physiology of people. The way they stand, the way they move, the way they speak, and even in the tone and texture of their skin. This is because chemicals released during times of suffering literally destroy your healthy cells and tissues.
The second choice that you have is to change your model of the world. Remember that the model of the world is something that you have created. It is nothing more than a series of choices that you have made to build a foundation or filter that you see the world through. In studying the brain and the way that we take in information, I have learned that our model of the world that we create is approximately 0.0000335% accurate. In other words, for every 100,000 assumptions you have about reality, you will be right just over 3 times, or wrong about 999,997 times.
When we change our model of the world, we change what we focus on. We find an empowering meaning for our lives that drives us forward. Pain and suffering opens this deep chasm inside of us. What we have to decide is “What am I going to fill it with?” We have to learn how to step outside of the pain and find ways to create a purpose. That doesn’t mean to find some unique way of avoiding the pain like I described earlier. It means to take the pain and use it as a force and drive towards something better.
Jay Timms BMT MA CCC
Author, Trainer, Researcher
Empower Training Development & Research