When the true self is mentioned, pain if often not too far behind. There are also many other terms that are mentioned in regards to finding the true self and two of these are: the dark night of the soul and an existential crises.

Here ones goes through an experience or a number experiences that are painful, but the pain is simply a catalyst in the process. One does not get stuck there or allow this to become their identity. A bit like a holiday, where one stays away for a certain period and then after a while returns with a new outlook.

So based on this, pain is natural and normal when it comes finding the true self or finding out who one really is. It is not something to be avoided or denied, but something to be embraced and transcended. This is typically mental and emotional pain.

The Problem

Although pain is seen as an important part of realising who one is, in the modern day world is has become something to avoid. It is not seen as a friend or an ally in ones development, but as an enemy and as a something that needs to be avoided.

And so much of what makes up today’s societies is based around the avoidance of pain. There are the obvious examples and these are: alcohol, drugs or gambling for instance. These options are often marginalised and labelled as being bad.

However, even though these are common examples and ones that are routinely covered by the media, there are examples of avoidance that are socially accepted and approved of.


When one goes to the doctor and is looking for some kind of solution to deal with a mental or emotional problem, drugs can be provided. Or perhaps this mental and emotional problem has turned into a physical problem, as they often can, and again drugs may be provided.

And while this is just one example, it is a big reflection of how the mainstream society views pain. It is not something that needs to be understood and taken a closer look at; it is an unnecessary inconvenience.

The Self Development World

The mainstream society is not the only influence that is hell bent on removing pain, there is another. When someone wants to develop themselves and improve their quality of life they often read books on self development. And this is an admirable thing to do, as one is taking personal responsibility. So not only will ones personal life improve, one is also playing their part in the grand scheme of things.

Here, one is likely to come across what is known as ‘’positive thinking’’ and the need to always feel good and happy for instance. While these approaches have a time and a place, they have often become another method for avoiding pain and an escape.

So no matter whether it’s the mainstream or a niche area, the same approach is being applied. This shows that these external creations are simply mirroring the human tendency to avoid pain and are not problems per se.

The Ego Mind

If facing pain was a part of human nature, then it is unlikely that these external ways of avoiding pain would exist. Or if they did they might be used a lot less and not relied upon as they are today.

In order to understand or at least try to understand why pain is something that people generally avoid, one needs to place their attention on the ego mind. Survival is the ego’s main priority and it has many approaches to ensure this takes place.

Defence mechanisms will be utilised during moments of heightened arousal and tension. Internal and external experiences that are too overwhelming will be moderated through these mechanisms.

An Important Purpose

These defence mechanics are vital for ones survival and are not negative or bad. The problems will appear when what was avoided during the overwhelming situation stays hidden and is not dealt with.

Because while the mind can lessen the affects of these experiences through using defence mechanisms and even come to forget about the pain, the body will end up paying the price. It will gradually start to build up and when this happens, one is likely to lose their connection to their body and live in their head.

This is done simply because it feels safer and is less painful than being in the body. The body can then become something that one avoids and stays out of touch with.

Years Of Pain

There are many reasons as to why someone would live in their head and reject their body. One may have experienced moments of extreme trauma and abuse for example. It could be the result of one having faced numerous loses and setbacks. As well as general life challenges that often create pain and suffering.

What is clear is that pain is part of life and can’t be avoided. And the avoidance of pain then leads to all kinds of consequences, at local level and at a global level.

What’s The Connection?

The body is where ones true strength is found and not in the mind. Self control comes through being in touch with one’s body. This is an internal control, where as the ego seeks external control. Ones true needs and wants are to be found in the body. The ego desires and wants are often based on the approval and acceptance that is gained from others.

However, as a result of all the pain that one has accumulated through their life, they may have rejected their body and so living in one’s head is then normal and a way of life.

And if this is the case, then one will need to embrace the pain that exists in the body and release it. Through this process taking place, one will get back in touch with their body and what really matters, as opposed to getting caught up in the dramas that the ego can create.


The ego is not a bad; it is simply there to keep one alive. It can only become out of control if it is not kept under a watchful eye. Getting in touch with ones true self can be extremely painful if a lot of pain has built up. And this is why realising the true self is not something that appeals to some people.

Because the pain of realising the true self is often too much for people and so living on the surface of oneself can seem like a better option. But while this pain can be intense and overwhelming, it won’t last forever and a new way of being will appear. While living on the surface of oneself is often painful, the pain can be bearable and so it’s often not enough for one to do anything about it.

One can be assisted through this process with the help of a: therapist, healer, coach, trusted friend or some kind of support group and through some kind of self inquiry.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Oliver J R Cooper and I have been on a journey of self awareness for over nine years and for many years prior to that I had a natural curiosity.

For over two years, I have been writing articles. These cover psychology and communication. This has also lead to poetry.

One of my intentions is to be a catalyst to others, as other people have been and continue to be to me. As well as writing articles and creating poetry, I also offer personal coaching. To find out more go to - http://www.oliverjrcooper.co.uk/

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