26 Jul The Temperature of Your Pain Body
Have you taken the temperature of your pain body lately?
Huh? What? Simply put, your pain body refers to your mind’s list of complaints — and they are usually both physical and emotional.
Here’s a view inside my pain body this morning:
“It’s already Thursday? I have not stretched this week! How is that possible? Well, you did go to a seminar that required you to sit for 3 days then launched back into parenting and work. Yes, but my legs feel t..i..g..h..t! (emphasize the annoying, whiny voice). And my daughter has to sing tonight and it’s literally her first big solo to showcase her amazing Amy Winehouse voice and she has a head cold! Did I make her the right tea? Will she be able to do it? I feel stressed out!”
So when I took my temperature, my pain body was hot and fired up!
I know you have one too. Everyone has a pain body — it’s the human condition. It’s that incessant stream of judgement, stress and drama. Our kids also have them. When they state their litany of woes: “And then the teacher called on me even though I was absent the day before!” and “Mom, Mom, MOM! My toenail hurts again!”
This internal and external banter goes on all the time and can turn into the way we see ourselves. The question as I see it is, “How do we defuse it so it does not become our identity?” Do you see yourself as a diabetic or as a person managing their blood sugar? Is your child someone who is afraid of heights or someone who doesn’t want to go over a bridge that scares them in the moment?
In Buddhism, there is an idea that labeling is untrue because we change from moment to moment. Saying, “I’m a person who…” may be true in the moment, but the risk is that it becomes a way of permanently identifying yourself or your child. It’s a choice whether to say “I’m always” or “Today I’m noticing.” The second one keeps you from getting caught in a definition for the rest of your life.
The pain body rant (whether silent or verbal) feels real and unbearable in the moment, like a tantrum — but we know that 2 minutes after screeching and banging the floor, your child could be happily playing in their toy kitchen stirring pretend soup. They are not a tantrum just as I am not my tight hamstrings.
Go ahead and tell your child you hear their complaint, and take action if necessary, but do not add to the drama, Mama.
So I have a two recommendations:
Notice and witness without attachment.
And don’t empower it by talking endlessly about it.
It would make little sense to say that the mood you (or your child) is in at the moment is who you are all the time. The same can be said for your abilities, aches and pains, joys and celebrations. The truth is who we are is fluid not static.
Have you noticed that some families and people have very detailed and complex versions of their pain bodies? Everyone is lactose intolerant; all of us are horrible sleepers; we are not athletic! Think about how this might show up in your family. These stories tend to be all encompassing and you may be super-tired of hearing your friend talk about it on every playdate. All the power is in their pain body and they are letting it define them and their tribe.
Are there any definitions you apply to one person or another — if not everyone — in your family? Where did this come from and when did it start? How does it help you move toward health and how does it keep you stuck in the same place forever? When you let go of the pain body’s power to define, you’ll find yourself free and healthier.
I’d love to know what your pain body is saying to you on a regular basis and how you might be able to shift it. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!