“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
I believe this quote to be true and it makes me sad. We cause most of our own suffering when we should be happy and being grateful for what we have. We are a world of worriers. At the age of five or so my dad started calling me a “worry wart.” Now at the age of thirty three with much more knowledge and wisdom, I sadly still do worry way too much. I recently read a quote that said: “Worrying is like paying the tax on a debt for a debt you will probably not owe.” Children in grade school are worrying and stressing about grades, sports, friends etc. I am sure I did the same but I also believe schools have in some ways (in our area) gotten to be much more structured, stricter, and are putting way too much pressure on students to do the best and be the best: academics and sports alike. It is no wonder these kids are worrying a third of their days. I know a young girl who is ten and instead of being excited for the weekend she was already in a state of fear for her grades on Monday. That broke my heart. To see that at such a young, impressionable age children are suffering more in their imagination than in reality. Imaginations are supposed to be fun and take us to random adventures. I remember at that age being excited to get home and make forts in our backyard with moving boxes with my little brother. I was not thinking about anything but getting home and using my imagination to make forts. I definitely was not thinking about the future.
The reason I do not use the word pain in my “real world” is that I have learned the more I say or think about pain, the more pain I feel. If I am having a terrible time with pain, I tell my loved ones: “I am having a difficult day.” I try to never think about pain even though it is there. The body hears everything the mind says. This morning when I awoke first thought was a worry thought, second thought was a painful thought. First action was getting up, putting a yoga dvd in and practicing a fun yoga sequence. I do not remember now what my first two thoughts were. Many of my readers have chronic pain or some form of an invisible illness. Many of you are either excited for the up-coming holidays or wishing they would just go away. My favorite holiday is Christmas. For years upon years when chronic pain controlled my life I was literally grieving each year the holidays approached. It made me so sad to be around so much happiness, joy and fun when all I could think about was pain and that I would probably never be able to have a good Christmas again. Talk about suffering. My imagination was totally wrong as years later I am more than excited for this years Christmas and each day my two year old asks daily as we drive: “Mommy what’s that?” She points to Christmas lights on stores or decorations being sold in stores (ALREADY!) and is in an excited yet confused state as I explain Christmas to her. She is still too young to truly understand but this will be the first year that she can appreciate each event and yes, gift that comes with Christmas. I no longer think: “Oh my God what if my pain levels are sky high Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas.” The fear of pain is worse than the pain itself. Lets say that on Christmas day I am having a “difficult day.” Ok. So what? It is mid November, I am sure as hell not going to lose the next weeks suffering in my thoughts about something that may or may not happen. Not giving my ego the satisfaction and almost everything I worry about never comes to fruition.
Try and not think about the future in any negative way. There is a great reason so many of us say: one day at a time. As Deepak Chopra announces: “There are only two days you can do nothing about your life. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow.” Most of your suffering is truly in your imagination and all the bad things you fear are just taking away your joy of today. Chronic pain is not imagined so please do not take this post the wrong way. We are all on separate journeys in our journey with chronic pain and some of us only know suffering, as I did for ten years. All I ask, is to just try and take one day at a time and remember most of your worries mean nothing. I truly forget what I was worrying about this early morning before I was practicing yoga.