I watched Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness which is one of many trauma-informed stories in pop culture these days.
In it, Wanda experiences immense pain from losing the love of her life, her (imagined) children, and more. And she deals with it by reacting to this pain.
She goes into an obsessive pursuit of being with her children in a parallel universe, no matter what the cost is to herself and others, and without considering if the children of another Wanda would accept her. In her obsession, she is unable to consider and take in the real consequences of her strategy.
REACTING TO OUR PAIN
We all sometimes do this.
We go into reactivity to our pain.
And when we do, it always has an obsessive and compulsive quality.
We may compulsively do just about anything to distract ourselves from the pain, or try to find a resolution to the pain.
We may compulsively eat, work, have sex, or go into relationships. We may obsessively seek something spiritual and engage in spiritual practices. We may compulsively go into ideologies about politics, religion, or just general ideas about how life should be. We may go into blame, hatred, biotry. We may go into shame and self-loathing. We may go into depression or anxity. We may go into pursuing perfection. We may seek fame and success. We may hide from the world. And so on.
Whenever anything has a compulsive quality, it’s a good guess that it’s an attempt to escape pain.
This is not inherently wrong. It’s our mind creating this in an attempt to protect us. At the same time, it’s not the most skillful way of dealing with our pain, and it inevitably perpetuates the cycle of pain and creates more pain.
It doesn’t deal with the real issue so it’s not a real solution.
RELATING TO OUR PAIN MORE CONSCIOUSLY
Is there another option?
Yes, we can relate to our pain more consciously and with a bit more skill and insight.
We can learn to genuinely befriend our pain.
We can meet our pain with love. And this is often easier, at first, when we use a structured approach like metta, tonglen, or ho’oponopono.
We can feel the physical sensation aspect of the pain and rest in noticing and allowing it.
We can dialog with the part(s) of us experiencing the pain. We can listen to how it experiences itself and the world. We can ask what it needs to experience a deep resolution and relaxation. We can ask how we relate to it, and how it would like us to relate to it. We can ask what it would like from us. We can find the painful story it operates from, and help it examine this story and find what’s more genuinely true. (And often more peaceful.) We can find a way to work together more in partnership. And so on.
Through this, we may come to realize that the pain is here to help us, and even our reactivity to the pain is here to help us. It’s our psyche trying to help us. It comes from a wish to protect us, and it’s ultimately a form of love. And it often reflects a slightly immature way of dealing with pain. It’s the way a child deals with pain when they don’t have another option. And that’s no coincidence since these parts of us were often formed in childhood when we didn’t know about or have experience with other options.
We can also find our own nature – as capacity for the content of our experiences and what the world, to us, happens within and as. Notice that the nature of this suffering part of us is the same. (It happens within and as what we are.) Rest in that noticing. And invite the part of us to notice the same and rest in that noticing. This allows for a shift in how we relate to the suffering part of us, and it invites the part itself to untie some tight knots and reorganize.
MYTHOLOGY OF OUR TIME
Whether we like it or not, big Hollywood blockbusters are the mythology of our times – at least for large parts of the world.
So it’s wonderful to see that some of these stories are trauma-informed.
They help us notice patterns in ourselves, at least if we are receptive to it.
Yes, I am like Wanda. I sometimes go into reactivity to my pain and become compulsive about something. That can create even more pain for myself and others, and it doesn’t really resolve anything. And there is another way.Read More