Let Pain and Pleasure Guide You to Better Health
by Steven Horne, RH(AHG)
Nobody enjoys pain, but pain is why we seek help when we are sick. If illness didn’t cause “dis-ease” (literally “lack of ease”) we would not be motivated to cure it. Think about it. Would you do anything about your health if pain and other forms of discomfort weren’t present telling you that something was wrong? Unless we are masochists, our natural desire is to be free of suffering.
In answer to that desire, modern society affords us many convenient ways to relieve pain. We have aspirin and Advil, Tylenol and Excedrin for ordinary aches and pains. There is Novocain for the dentist’s drill, narcotic drugs for surgery and accidents, and corticosteroids for chronic inflammation.
The problem with all these painkillers is that is just what they are—killers. None of these drugs actually fix the problem causing one’s pain. They just deaden the nerves and tissues so the brain doesn’t get the message that the body is suffering. In other words they “kill” the message that something is wrong.
Of course, I am not suggesting that these substances are wholly without merit. It would take more courage than most of us possess to submit to the dentist’s drill without first having that painkilling shot. Likewise, we can all be thankful for the drugs that can ease pain after serious accidents. And, who would desire to submit to surgery without a reliable anesthetic?
However, the fact remains that nothing that deadens the sensibility of our bodies is actually a cure. The various over-the-counter medications for headaches, for instance, never stop us from getting headaches. They merely mask the current headache from our awareness, while the conditions that cause us to have headaches remain unresolved. The same is true for arthritis and other painful conditions.
Pain is Not the Enemy
So, while it is tempting to see pain as an evil enemy who tortures his innocent victims (us) for no good reason, there really is a wise and merciful reason for pain. Pain, and its opposing force pleasure, are teachers. Our bodies are designed in a straightforward manner. That which is good for the body brings the sensation of pleasure—while that which is harmful brings pain.
If you’ve ever studied the blood type diet, you’ll know that for each blood type some foods are beneficial and others are avoids. Beneficial foods are like medicine to that blood type, improving health. Avoids are foods that tend to damage that blood type’s health (at least when consumed in excess). Neutrals are just that, neutral. You can eat them for nourishment, but they don’t add or diminish from your general state of health.
I’d like you to think about everything that you are doing in your life the same way. Some things are beneficials for us. That is, they enhance our health and well-being. The body signals that these things are good for us by making them pleasurable.
Some things are avoids, which means they detract from our health and well-being. The body signals that these things aren’t good for us by bringing us discomfort and pain.
Other things are neutrals. They don’t really affect us for good, but they aren’t really bad, either. We don’t notice any particular pleasure or pain when we do them. I would propose to you that the number one key to becoming healthy isn’t to memorize a list of things to do, eat or take. Instead, it’s becoming aware of how what you do is affecting you. That’s because what is beneficial for you may be an avoid for someone else and vice-versa. Furthermore, what was beneficial for you yesterday, may be an avoid today. Allow me to clarify.
Pleasure and Pain Are Teachers
When the body needs something, it makes that thing pleasurable. Pleasure seeks satisfaction. Once satisfaction is realized, that is, the body has what it needs, pleasure ceases. The thing that was pleasurable becomes a neutral, providing neither pleasure nor pain. If the pleasurable is indulged in to excess, it throws our body out of balance, and what was formerly pleasurable can become a source of pain.
For example, when a person is hungry, eating brings pleasure. As soon as the body has enough food, it signals this by ceasing to make eating pleasurable. If one doesn’t pay attention to this, and continues eating, the stomach becomes uncomfortably “stuffed” which creates discomfort. Continual indulgence will eventually cause the pain of indigestion.
This demonstrates how pain and pleasure are teachers. Pleasure tells us, “Eat, it is good for you.” Pain reminds us, “Don’t overeat because it is bad for you.”
The problem is that most of people are not “tuned in” to their bodies. That’s because we’ve all been taught to do things because we have been told they were good for us, whether they actually are or not. For instance, I’ve seen many people taking a drug that is causing numerous side effects (i.e., pains and discomfort), but they are afraid to discontinue taking it because the doctor has made them terrified of what will happen if they don’t take the drug. So, they are willing to ignore their internal teacher (pain) and continue doing something that their body is trying to signal is harmful.
Here’s another example. When I am doing a consultation, I often ask people why they are taking a particular supplement. Often they answer, “I read (or heard) it was good for you.”
So, I ask them, “How long have you been taking it?” If they’ve been taking it for more than a month, I ask, “Have you noticed any difference in your health since you started taking it?”
When they reply, “No,” I advise them to stop taking it. The fact that they aren’t noticing any benefit means that the substance is a neutral for them. It may not be harmful, but it isn’t particularly helpful either.
I’ve trained myself to be aware enough that I can tell within several days whether a supplement is doing me some good. I can also tell when my body is starting to say, “I don’t want to take this anymore.” The bottom line is that I trust my own body more than I trust what “experts” tell me. That’s because “expert” advice, even from me, can only deal in generalities. It can’t account for all our individual differences.
I recognize this is true when working with clients, too. Sometimes it takes a little experimentation to figure out what is going to work for a particular person. I have to let them to take something and then get feedback on whether or not it worked for them. The bottom line I’m looking for is this, “did their health change for the better or not?”
In Health, One Shoe Doesn’t Fit All Sizes
It would sure make my job easier if everyone reacted the same, but they don’t. I can have something that worked for nine clients that doesn’t work for the tenth. So, it’s not always an easy process to learn your personal beneficials, neutrals and avoids. It requires awareness, which means paying attention to how things you take and do make you feel. It also requires experimentation, which means being willing to change what you’re currently doing and try something different.
Most people want to keep doing the same things and then take a pill or some other magic “remedy” that will change the result they’re getting. But, if they continue to practice dietary and lifestyle avoids, while refusing to utilize diet and lifestyle beneficials, they are never going to get healthy. Everyone has to learn from their internal teachers if they want to achieve a high level of wellness.
My upcoming webinar Heal It Now, is designed to teach you the tools to learn how your body works, so you can start listening to the feedback it is giving you. If you’d like to learn more about relieving pain by reversing its cause rather than just numbing the nerves, sign up for the first session of this webinar. It’s absolutely free and in it I’ll be discussing what causes pain (at the cell level) and the basic principles of how to reverse it.
You can register by clicking on the following link.