You can think of yourself as an essence that projects itself forth into an idea. That idea is the idea of a person. With enough focus on that idea of a person, a person manifests in the physical dimension. You then call that person me or I. You think that is who you really are. You forget the essence behind your persona because you become so heavily identified with the persona. But that persona, when it meets with trauma in the world, copes by dividing into fragments. So the essence is now feeding several different personas. This means you are not a singularity. You are a multiplicity. In a previous episode, for the sake of creating an analogy, I explained that you can think of the skin of your body as being like a container. I asked you to imagine that inside that main container are smaller containers. Each container holds a persona inside it. A persona with its own personality, beliefs, fears, traumas, preferences, wants and needs. We can call each little container person a part.
I explained that when these parts become triggered, they come out of their containers and tend to ‘take over’ our body. It is then we mistake their perceptions and beliefs and fears and traumas and wants and needs for ALL of who we are. We identify with it completely.
Ultimately, the path of awakening is to remember the essence beyond our persona. Then to use the essence as our new platform from which to integrate the fractured personas so that we are living in a state of unity with ourselves. To do that, we have to become acutely aware of these parts within ourselves. We need to work with them from the outside. It is at this point that seeing certain parts of you as just a part of you or as separate from who you really are, is critical.
Right now, using the container analogy, I want you to imagine that one of the larger containers in you is ‘pain self’. This container contains anything of ‘yours’ that is painful. It contains all of the personas within you that are in pain. It contains all of the painful memories, fears, all of the painful thoughts, all of the painful beliefs, all of the painful emotions, all of the pain in your embodiment.
Your discomfort with yourself is entirely about this part within you. All of your coping mechanisms are designed to prevent you from being close to this part of you. They are designed to keep the lid closed on this container so it can be kept as far away from you as possible. This part of you, the pain self, you see as an enemy.
We do not realize until all of our attempts to feel better fail, that we see our pain itself as our abuser. When we feel pain, we think the pain we feel is trying to hurt us and so we are desperate to escape it and to be rescued from it by others. If we have gone through a lot of pain and accumulated a lot of it, this container becomes so large that there comes a point where it feels much, much larger than the rest of us. We feel like a victim to the pain we feel.
We spend our entire life, every single minute, trying to get out of our pain and trying to get rid of it. Just take a look at your life objectively and see how much of it is lived to escape or avoid pain. The self-help industry and indeed most of spirituality itself is dedicated to nothing more than this. And even when spiritual teachers like myself come along and teach you to instead be unconditionally present with your pain, the truth is, you are only ‘unconditionally with it’ so it will go away… Which adds to the pain. It’s like saying to a crying child, “I know you want me to be with you, but I hate being with you so much that I’m being here with you right now so you’ll stop crying and I can go do something else”.
Most of us get into relationships in order to use the other person as an antidote to the pain self. At first, it works. And then there comes a day when the other person will inevitably cause us to feel pain. It is at this point that we start to crumble. We feel duped. The thing we thought would help us to escape the pain, is adding to it. We cannot forgive them for adding to the pain any more than we can forgive them for not rescuing us from it. If our pain self is large enough, we actually start to experience bystander trauma relative to our partners.
Bystander trauma is torment experienced as a result of what was not done to protect us. Experts in trauma will tell you that when someone is being abused, the most pain they feel isn’t towards the abuser himself or herself, but towards those who stood by and did nothing to protect them. It is an incredible betrayal. When we enter into relationships with the unconscious expectation that someone will rescue us from our pain and they do not, we experience betrayal and bystander trauma relative to them because we feel as if they have forsaken us by leaving us alone to fend for ourselves against our internal abuser… our own pain self.
We have made pain wrong and bad. Because of this, we want to disconnect from it, suppress it, deny it, disown it and get away from it. On that note, I strongly encourage you to watch my video on You Tube titled: The Meaning Of Pain.
Dis identification from these parts within us, including the larger container called the pain self, must not be done in order to cut them off from ourselves. It must be done in order to pull these parts closer with love and meet their needs and help them to create harmony and unity together. As it applies to the pain self, we need to help it, love it and stop adding pain to it.
So, how do we help the pain self?
1. Next time you are in pain in any way, close your eyes and remind yourself that the pain self has been touched by something that just occurred. Sort of like bumping a very sore bruise. That feeling of pain is your call to recognize the pain self. With your eyes closed try to see or sense or feel the totality of your pain as one large part or self (like a multiple personality) within you.
2. Your essence as well as every other part within you is in a relationship with this pain self. So, imagining that you are in a relationship with it, can you feel into what this pain self wants? Can you feel into what it needs? Can you talk to it mentally? Can it talk back to you? Use your intuition to assist this pain self as if it were a person you were in an intimate relationship with, who lives inside of your body instead of externally.
3. Meet its needs on a daily basis. If its needs directly oppose the needs of any other part within you, find a way to meet both parts’ needs in a harmonious way. If you feel pain, imagine this pain self is trying to cry for something, just like a baby does when it needs something. Tune in with loving care to discover what it wants and give that to the pain self, mentally, verbally or through actual action. This is where nuance comes into play. For example, the pain self may need positive thoughts. We can positively focus to escape the pain self. Conversely, we may also use positive focus to help the pain self to feel better.
4. Realize that thoughts come from everywhere. They are not necessarily even projected from you. It is as if your mind is a net that simply perceives all of them and your body translates them into emotion. When the pain self is activated (like a sore bruise being pushed on) it turns on like a light bulb and begins to attract thoughts of like frequency to itself. The pain self is tormented by these painful thoughts. So one of the best things you can do on behalf of your pain self is to interfere in the link between the thought process and the pain self. Practically, this means, imagine stepping back and watching the thoughts as they arise and the emotions they cause in your body as they arise. They may arise as an image, a word, a sound, a voice. Watch them without touching or becoming involved with them. Don’t go into them. Do this like you were simply watching them pop up out of the quantum field on the screen of your mind. Practice this every day for a time in meditation. Then, gradually practice this when you are not in meditation, when you are on a walk or being driven somewhere or talking with friends for example. It may help to name the thoughts as they arise, as if you were narrating them. You will notice which ones have gravity and try to suck you into them. You will notice which ones fizzle out. As you watch them and consciously feel the emotion they cause in the body, your consciousness is not directly feeding them, instead, it is transmuting the pain into consciousness.
All things done out of love for the pain self from this point forward, must be done for and on behalf of the pain self, not in opposition to the pain self. It is the opposition to the pain self that guarantees suffering. It is the opposition to the pain self that fuels illusion instead of enlightenment.
When we feel pain, it calls our attention and focus to whatever is in need of presence. This is the real reason why suffering has been the main doorway to enlightenment for so many thousands of years. The presence of your consciousness transforms suffering into awakening. Pain alerts us to where we are out of alignment. It is a crucial aspect of healing. It alerts us to the aspects of ourselves that need to be brought back into alignment and integrated so that we can become whole.