Being Well

Pain needs a response. In childhood, the response to pain is often crying. However, there are many responses to pain in childhood. My granddaughter lies down on the floor and rolls. Some children stamp their legs, shake their head, or call out, “No No No.” Another favorite is to shrivel up and sink into the floor silently. Each response is a way for the child to use their resources to respond. Adults, who have complex intellectual and emotional functioning, need a different kind of response. Yet a response is still essential.

A famous writer once took an art class. She was not feeling comfortable and still wanted to draw. She told the teacher she felt there was a block. The teacher responded,

Paint this block; let the brush express your discomfort.

What happens when there is no personal response? What happens when there is no way to creatively and energetically express what is overwhelming? Chaos, oftentimes destructive chaos. When pain occurs and we inflict others in some way then we sink into the pain that has been made more complex by victimizing others after we have been victimized. It can go on forever. Pain has been spilled through generations in one family, and with many families.

What would happen if each person explores a personally gratifying way to respond to pain. It might be artistic, musical, literary, athletic, walking, singing, speaking, gardening. This would be a manner of pouring pain into emotional, physical, or intellectual expression. Many people have found that pain is transformed when expressed.

The opposite of expressing pain is falling victim to pain which causes someone suffering pain to “take out their pain onto others”. Falling victim to pain often catalyzes violence, child abuse spousal abuse, self-affliction and another form of illness including some forms of mental illness. There was a story years ago about a woman who was often hysterical and angry and everyone avoided her. No one took up her plight or supported her. She eventually got pregnant, had a child and on a day where the pain was overwhelming, she ended the child’s life. When she was asked, she said

“The pain was too much.”

We are suggesting an exploration of the notion that pain expressed is pain halved and pain without expression is pain doubled. We are suggesting that just as people take seriously to eat regularly, bathe frequently, it is a human need to respond to the pain of life instead of becoming pain’s victim. Finding the right expression can be a process of trial and error, or giving many expressions a try. personally, after trying weaving, recorder, I found that yoga and painting help me grow no matter what life dishes out!

Hatzlacha and feel free to write about your discoveries!

About the Author
Chana Rochel Frumin is the founder/director of The Jerusalem Narrative Therapy Institute with over 30 years experience in marital and family counseling in the Jerusalem area.