Strange pain.

Have you ever had those days where a sense of random melancholy descends upon you out of what seems like nowhere?  It often comes disguised as introspection. But secretly, we know the truth. It's the random pain monster. Well, that's the name I've given it. With it, it brings unexplained suffering. I know that sounds silly, but that's how it feels.

I find it's that weird feeling you get right before your friend, family member, or significant other innocently asks "what's wrong?" To which you'll reply, "nothing." At that point, usually a sense of awkwardness ensues which may even lead to an argument. This makes you feel worse and the monster gets bigger.

Back to your strange pain.  We have been told for millennia by philosophers that suffering is an inevitable part of being alive. We all suffer. However, I don't know about you, but with all of the great pain and despair being experienced all throughout the world, sometimes we can downplay and discredit the suffering as minor in comparison. And so it may be in the grand scheme of things...but yet, there it is.

Here's the thing: Whether or not your specific pain encompasses all of humanity, it is still real. It is very real to you, isn't it?  Whether based on something tangible or even an emotional cloud that is unnamed, it comes.  OK, so now what?  I suppose one tool we use is distracting ourselves. We may do this through addictions of various kinds, going into busy overachiever mode, or sometimes by overdosing on pizza. (Yes, that's possible.)

Another option is to simply push it aside and "keep calm and carry on," so to speak. This does help, sometimes. Distracting yourself until the feeling passes, if it's minor, can get you through for a time. Inevitably though, secret pain returns and haunts you in the moments EVEN when you feel you've finally broken free. How frustrating.

I propose a different method, since these are obviously not working for many of us long-term.

What if instead, we turn toward the pain monster. (Still sounds silly, I know.) Look it in it's deep, dark, soulless eye (they usually only have one, being monsters and all) and ask it what it wants. Yep, stand there in that internal mind-cave and wait for it to emerge from the depths and find out what it wants. Seriously, what's the worst possible outcome? I suppose the worst case scenario would be if your pain monster turned out to be the girl from that psychotic movie,The Ring, who then emerges out of your head and...does whatever she does.  (What the heck does she do, anyway?)

Ironically, this very act of giving the pain monster a clear look can be the very thing that dissipates it's presumed darkness. You know what else is crazy? Sometimes, the monster you fear truly isn't dark at all. It just wants to be recognized. Just like you. Heck, maybe that's what the little girl in The Ring really wanted, too. However, I just don't want to hold that image in my brain long enough to ponder that, thank you very much.

Today, try this. Face this darkness. Shine the light of courage and clear thinking into said darkness. Make sure you're not abandoning an inkling of something precious that simply needs to be handled gently, spoken to with compassion--given a place to be seen. It may turn out to be an insight into your life journey that you've been living without for too long.

Then when you're finished, it's perfectly okay to reward yourself for your courage with pizza--or whatever that is for you. Just try not to overdose on the pizza. Otherwise you may find yourself awakening in the middle of the night with heartburn--another kind of monster altogether.