The Problem of Pain

Natalie Snodgrass Tan- 08/01/19

I’ve been thinking about pain. A number of things have converged in recent weeks to cause this: my reinjured knee (currently waiting for MRI results and follow-up with the orthopod, my mother’s grief over the loss of her beloved cat, Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning”(if you haven’t read this, I thoroughly recommend buying it), and the daily catalogue of unhappy news from around the world. (On a lighter note, also the individuation report that I idly signed up for a while ago that told me I thrived on suffering. Apparently I have a ‘strange appreciation for pain’, although they did go on to clarify that they didn’t mean masochistically, which was helpful.) It seemed quite fitting that while participating in a group guided meditation a couple of weeks ago, one of the messages that came into my head was ‘pain is a teacher.’

In my more philosophical moments, I have mulled over the ‘problem of pain’ and why God allows suffering to happen. I am no theologian or philosopher, but you see, I think pain is part of life in all its fullness.

A few questions occur to me. Is pain necessary? What would life be like without it? What happens when you fight or run from pain? I’ll be clear upfront – I have no definitive answers to any of these questions. But it strikes me that these are worthwhile things to consider.

Is pain necessary? What would life be like without it?

Whenever I mull over what a life without any pain would be like I’m reminded of two things. The first is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and its citizens getting high on soma, which, as Huxley comments, has “all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects”. Except does it? People blissed out on soma are dull and torpid. The second is the childhood memory of when I learnt about leprosy and discovered that because lepers don’t feel any pain they end up losing parts of their extremities because of repeated and unnoticed wounds and infections. Pain, then, is a natural signal to us to stop and take stock of our reality.

I think pain allows us to become fully human. Is pleasure all we want in our lives? How can you value happiness if you never know anything else? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think suffering is necessary in order to find meaning and happiness. Seeking it out would just be masochistic. I just think that if it does find you, you have to embrace it, and find out what it’s teaching you, and then discover that your joy, whenever it comes, is all the more precious because of the contrast.

The Indian poet Rumi said this: “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter.” And then there’s one of my favourite verses in Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”

What happens when you fight or run from pain?

I think that often our first instinct, when confronted with pain, is to control or get rid of it somehow. Fight it, run from it, suppress it, avoid it. Sometimes this is reasonable and sensible to avoid unnecessary suffering, like anaesthesia during operations or pain relief in childbirth. Sometimes, though, it’s not so easy to figure out what control we have over our situation, or indeed whether we should be trying to exert control over it in the first place.

If you’re in an unhappy position, I think you first have to ask yourself: “Is there anything I can do to change the situation or get away from it?” If there is, however, there then comes a second question: “Does it help me to do so?” If the answers to both of these questions are yes, then you take the necessary and appropriate action. But what happens if either or both answers are no? I think the key word for what I want to talk about here is acceptance.

Eh? Acceptance?

I often tell my clients that acceptance is not the same thing as resignation. It’s not about some sort of reluctant acquiescence or passiveness in the face of defeat. Jon Kabat-Zinn, in “Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness”, phrases it beautifully: “Acceptance doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is – especially when you don’t like it – and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can with the circumstances you find yourself in and with the resources at your disposal, both inner and outer, to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what can be changed.”

I also love the way Eckhart Tolle puts it: “When there is no way out, there is still always a way through.”

Surrendering like this – letting go of resistance and working with rather than against your situation – may not come naturally, but I think learning how to live in this way is so worth it. You start by acknowledging that you are resistant, and then step away from yourself to observe what’s going on in your mind and what the pain is like. Then you allow the pain and the resistance to just be there, rather than pushing it away or trying to escape.

Here’s a little exercise* to show you what I mean. Pick up a large book (the heavier the better) and imagine that it represents all the pain and tears and unhappy thoughts that you’re fighting. Now grip it as tightly as you can, as if you’re trying to stop someone taking it away from you. Hold it up in front of you, gripping tightly all the while, and keep doing that for three minutes.


Now, place it against the wall, and push the book away from you, as hard as you can. Just keep pushing away all that pain. You’re managing to keep the pain at arm’s length, great. How long do you think you’ll be able to keep going?

And if I were to ask you now, while you’re pushing hard, to have an important conversation, or hug someone you love, how easy would you find that?

Every time you push something away, it’s at a cost to you. It may seem that the situation you’re in is causing your pain – and this may well be true – but the truth is, your resistance (and fear, and resentment, and anger) is also making it worse.

If you’re hurting, and if I were to ask you what you were running from, what would you say? Our personal demons come in all shapes and sizes. The trouble with running is that as long as you are doing this, your demon has a much greater capacity to hurt you. The key is in changing your relationship with it, understanding that you don’t necessarily have to identify with it, fight it, or get rid of it. It’s part of life right now. It is what it is.

So face the demon, and be tender with it. Hold it lightly, acknowledging its presence, and then put it to one side. Think about all the things you can do after you stop gripping that book and simply place it gently on the table next to you. It’s there, in the background, like some soft soundtrack that no longer demands you listen to it.

– Written by, Quiet Space Ltd

*adapted from ACT Made Simple, Russ Harris

Have you done these three things today on social media?

Every day I talk to people about social media and a few of them have asked me “what should I start doing?”. There are many things that I would recommend but the ones in this blog would have the most impact.

So, here are the top three things I would recommend people do straight away!

Stop selling and start talking!
Most people go onto social media and put posts out and not interact with people. This is forgetting the “Social” part of social media. You will gain more business and talk to more people by spending 80% of your time talking to people and the following 20% of your time selling.

The benefit of this is when they do see your selling posts, they will be more interested as they have spoken to you and like you.

Make sure you are posting consistently on the platforms that your customers are on. 
If you haven’t posted in the last day on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or LinkedIn then write a post and send it out. Most people do not post enough and as social media moves so quickly, your new visitor might have missed your posts. Aim to post on Facebook and LinkedIn once a day, Instagram- twice a day and Twitter- five times a day.

Post a picture, video or a Facebook Live
Pictures, Videos, and Live Streaming are brilliant tools that some people love or hate. The truth is they have a few brilliant benefits for people who do them:

  1. They get better engagement than a post with just text.
  2. People will look at them for longer and more likely to interact with them.
  3. They accelerate the buying process as people feel they already know you.
  4. They actually save you time as you can use this content on each of the different platforms (just keep videos between 60-90 seconds long and they will be ok on each platform).
  5. You will get better the more you do them. In the next few years, videos are only going to get more prominent on social media and I personally want to make all my mistakes now rather than then!

If you are not sure about what to post, give the viewers a top tip, talk about a Blog, your story or where you have been today. The best bit? You don’t have to post it if you don’t want to but at least you have practiced it!

I hope you enjoyed this blog and please do not be afraid to do any of the above. The worst thing to do is not post at all!

Speak to you soon!

Top tips for 2019 New Year resolutions

Christine Ingall- 03/01/19

Have you ever made a new-year resolution and not been able to stick to it? Given up after a few days of agony or in the face of temptation? Of course you have. We all have! But I think there are reasons for these failures that have nothing to do with temptation or poor resolve.

Here are my tips to help you to set better resolutions for yourself and, even better, to achieve them.

1. Focus on The ONE thing that you really want/need to change. Set ONE resolution not many resolutions. More often than not, it is trying to make changes in multiple areas that guarantee failure in most.

2. Make your resolution POSITIVE rather than negative. Don’t think in terms of giving something up (which is what you might do for Lent) or doing less of something. Instead, express your resolution in terms of what you want to achieve that will make you feel better in mind, body or spirit as a result. For example, rather than saying, ‘I’m going to give up booze,’ resolve to become sober; rather than lose 10lbs, resolve to get fitter/achieve a better body weight/ more muscle definition.

3. See your end result clearly and be SPECIFIC about what, by when and how you will achieve it. Make sure that your resolution is something that you can achieve realistically in the timescale and in your current position/ circumstances.

So, for example you could resolve to be sober throughout January, but that might not be realistic if you are going on holiday with friends who drink for 2 weeks in that month. Resolve to sober in February instead.

4. Write your resolution down and post it in places where you will see it regularly: a note on the fridge door, the bathroom mirror, in your diary or planner. You could even go as far as to make a chart and record stepping stones, deadlines and their achievement. You will be encouraged by evidence of success!.

5. Tell a friend, or enrol a buddy in the same resolution. It will help to have someone to check up on/discuss progress or issues with you, and to celebrate success when you (both) achieve your desired result. This year I decided to eat gluten free because I am intolerant to wheat, and most bread, even if advertised as rye or spelt for example, contains wheat. But I don’t enjoy eating gluten free bread or cakes. As there are more and more wheat- free flour products available, in 2019 my resolution is to learn how to make my own wheat-free bread.

Good luck with your resolutions for 2019, whatever they are!

Christine Ingall aka cjisolo
16 Queensway Court
Leamington Spa, CV31 3LS

Welcome to Grow Library

Hello and Welcome to Grow Library!

Grow Library is a FREE resource to help you learn about different topics. All of these articles, podcasts and videos have been supplied to you by our contributors to help you develop in their chosen field.

Our aim is simple, to help you develop your skills so you can become a better version of yourself.

We have over 100 articles in our back catalogue from when Grow Library was launched in 2016. These are about different topics and will help you with your business, health, mindset and lifestyle.

Grow Library 2019
Over the course of January 2019, we will be releasing a new piece of content (Monday-Friday) to kickstart your 2019.

Then starting in February, you will see regular content from our featured contributors as well as some special content from a few guest contributors.

Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter Pages for all of the latest information and if you wanted to be part of Grow Library, let me know.

Here’s to a fantastic 2019!

How Lifestyle Choices Could Affect Your Probability of Getting Dementia

In this blog, Taruna Chauhan shares how lifestyle choices could affect you probability of getting dementia. This blog is available as a PDF download by clicking on the following link.

How Lifestyle Choices Could Affect Your Probability of Getting Dementia

Taruna Chauhan supports businesses with their quality assurance, continuous improvement, and management of risk. She is a Dementia Champion with the Alzheimer’s Society. To find out more, please visit Taruna’s website.

Daniel Browne’s Top Ten Self-Care Tips

Do you take enough care of yourself? It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and neglect our wellbeing needs. However, practicing self-care doesn’t need to be a time-consuming chore. It’s something simple that can be in integrated into your everyday life with a bit of effort. Something as simple as brushing your teeth each morning and evening is a form of self-care, but here I’d like to share my top ten self-care tips with you.

  1. Eat healthily. What you eat can affect the way your body feels, but if can also impact on the way your mind feels. Keeping a balanced, healthy diet is key to overall wellbeing. That’s not to say that you must only eat healthy foods. That would be unrealistic, so make sure you treat yourself occasionally too. If you want a chocolate bar, have one. BUT only do this in moderation. The 80/20 rule is a good one to live by. Eat healthy foods for 80% of the time and then a bit of what you fancy for the remaining 20% of the time. It’s about striking a healthy balance.
  2. Catch up with a friend you haven’t seen or spoken to for ages. As we focus on our lives it is sometimes the case that we lose touch with people we were once great friends with. So pick up the phone or send them a message, and arrange to catch up. It’s good to reconnect with those we miss.
  3. Put your phone down and turn off the computer. Once you’ve finished reading this article and called up a friend to catch up with them, of course. Technology can be distracting. Texts, calls, emails, Facebook and Twitter notifications all come through to our phones these days and it can become a constant cycle of checking your phone, seeing what’s going on, replying, and so on… It doesn’t have to be like that. So give switching off all technology a go and indulge in some ‘me time’.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparing yourself to others can lead to envy and lower your self-esteem. Therefore, it is simply not worth comparing yourself to other people. Accept that you are unique and that everyone is different. Everyone has their own journey and all you need to focus on is yours.
  5. Embrace your imperfections. I truly believe in celebrating people for who they are and would like to encourage you to celebrate who you are. Being perfect is pretty boring, right? Be proud of your imperfections. They make you who you are.
  6. Know your strengths. Our weaknesses can be so overpowering sometimes, which means we don’t focus on our strengths enough. Do not allow your weaknesses to be so needy. Focus on your strengths and shape your life around them.
  7. Laugh. It’s a bit of a cliché, but laughter really can be a medicine. Try to find something to laugh about each day and notice how good it makes you feel.
  8. Love. There are many ways of loving, and even just a hug can do the trick. Whether it’s your partner, your child, a family member or a friend, hug it out and enjoy how it feels to love. My dog is quite fond of being made a fuss of and she is equally affectionate. Even that is a form of love that can make you feel good.
  9. Go slower. We can all get caught up in being busy, but sometimes it’s good to slow the pace down and be a bit more leisurely.
  10. Remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day. If today hasn’t been so good or not gone to plan, there is always tomorrow. Stay positive.

Daniel Browne is a hypnotherapist with a successful clinic in Warwick. He specialises in anxiety, confidence, quitting smoking and weight loss. Discover more on his website.