Your feelings tell you about the state of your body. If you’re putting on a roof, carrying shingles up a ladder, swinging a hammer until your hand falls off, sweating it out at a hundred and ten degrees, your body will have a lot to say. You may not want to listen to it. You’ve got to cover the roof before the rainstorm comes; but, your body is trying to tell you something. It would be in your interest to listen sometimes.
The feeling of pain is the way the body speaks to you when it wants to say, cut it out, you’re exceeding limitations. When you swing a hammer until your hand is ready to fall off, tendonitis is developing. That’s why the old guy on your job, who used to swing a hammer all day, can’t anymore. He ruined his hands swinging that hammer, so now all he can do is talk to customers, write up estimates, and yell at you that you’re doing it wrong. He’d like to be on the roof and show you how to do it, but he didn’t listen to his body when it told him to stop.
I’m not saying you’ve got to do everything your body says, the instant it says it. Sometimes you have to talk back to your body and say, I hear you, but we’ve got to keep doing this. For instance, when you’ve been lifting weights, your muscles get sore. That’s because you tear up some muscle fibers lifting those weights, so the muscles will come back stronger. When you lift weights, you’ve got to be the boss of your body and push yourself a little further each set; but, you also have to listen to your body, so you can tell the difference between normal soreness and when a muscle is pulled. It does no good to push through a pulled muscle. It may set you back days or weeks, making you worse off than if you never lifted those weights at all. The ability to tell the difference between normal soreness and a problem only comes by paying close attention to your feelings.
When you were young, your body did what you told it to do, for the most part. You could work all day, party all night, and be ready to go again the next morning. Because your body was always there for you, you took it for granted. Bodies don’t like that. So, the body starts to talk a little louder. The way your body talks to you when it really wants you to listen is pain.
Here’s another example. You feel pain when you touch a hot stove. That pain is there to order you to take your hand off that burner before it gets burned to a crisp. You might not do it, otherwise. There are people who have a rare condition where they don’t feel pain. It’s called congenital analgesia. You might think this would be a good thing, but it’s not. These people don’t live long. They break their bones, burn their skin, and go months with an abscessed tooth they know nothing about. Be glad that you can feel pain, even though you might not enjoy it when it happens.
Suffering is a different matter. In the next post, we’ll look at the difference between pain and suffering.