There are four types of known pain: existential or spiritual pain; physical pain; social or societal pain; and emotional pain. Pain is defined as: “trouble, care, or effort taken” in one of Miriam Webster’s definitions (there are a few under the entry of the word “pain”). The efforts of the human condition to better our situations usually include measures meant to alleviate one or more of the four types of pain. There is a need to proceed cautiously in eliminating pain and, at all costs, we must learn to own our own pain. We are on a discovery path to cure pain in medicine, politics, and religion where symptoms of pain alert us to problems and wrong situations that may or may not have a solution.
There are two categories for all four types of pain:
“Good” pain is explainable by an example:
When I was young, I was a runner and I would run a mile or more almost every day. The efforts to push past tiredness and the limits of my limbs to run further would sometimes cause a type of pain. If I had the will and determination to push my body correctly and continue the run, this pain would work out and the endorphins released would begin to give me a “runner’s high”. This was indicative of “good” pain. The pain I felt did not signify injury or harm and working this pain out produced a healthier runner with stronger muscles and stamina. “Good” pain does not come from injuries. “Good” pain is a signal that keeps us correcting appropriately and “Good” pain can be worked through with beneficial results. This is why all pain must not be eliminated. We would cease to become stronger and we would not be reminded of how to work our solutions correctly.
“Bad” pain is the opposite of “Good” pain. “Bad” pain signals harm, injury, or intolerable conditions. “Bad” pain cannot be worked correctly for benefit. Often “Bad” pain indicates that assistance from elsewhere is needed. The root causes of “Bad” pain must be found and remedied to prevent further damages. In lesser amounts, “Bad” pain can steer us away from dangers that might cause further harm.
Owning our own pain saves us, in many ways, from misinterpreting the causes and origins of our pain and the problems signified by our pain. When I visit a doctor in pain, I have to describe my pain. I have to know what hurts, how it hurts, and the level of pain I am experiencing in order to give the doctor a place to start searching for the root causes of the “Bad” pain. In any of the four categories of pain, we can go awry if we cannot describe our own pain, understand our pain as we experience it, and feel the extent and intensity of our pain within our own parameters. To my mind the most deadly words on the planet are “Let me make you comfortable.”