Everyone you meet has different methods for how they handle pain. Think about the last time your stubbed your toe. How did you respond to the pain? Did you jump up and down? Curse? Cry? Hold your breath? Walk it off? How you handle pain is a result of nature and nurture. Perhaps as you were a child you heard the phrase, “walk it off,” or “let me kiss it and make it feel better.” These are ways we’ve learned to handle pain.
There are three natural pain processing methods we are going to talk about today. They are acceptance, denial, and devouring. Two of these methods are very common, and the third being rare.
The acceptance method of pain management is the original method that we are born with. We experience painfully. We don’t try to escape the pain or dull the pain but allow it to wash over us. As a child, the only thing we know how to do is hurt when something hurts. Crying is a natural form of pain acceptance. Other verbal utterances such as moaning and groaning are also a form of acceptance. It’s only as we grow up and learn to ‘deal’ with pain that we push it down into ourselves, try to ignore it and dissipate it.
Acceptance is also where most subspace occurs during play. When we stop fighting our reactions to the pain and really feel and experience the sensations we are receiving we can get in touch with the endorphins and adrenaline.
In the rejection method, you refuse to accept pain. Because of this you only perceive a fraction of the pain.
Rejection is usually a result of being told and taught that showing pain is a sign of weakness. People who manage pain this way have trained themselves to deny the pain either consciously or subconsciously. It’s likely that as a child this person was told to stop crying many times and that the pain wasn’t as bad as they were making it out. Inside they learned to stuff the pain down and show no signs that something hurt. Adults that have had this processing method ingrained are ones you see who hurt themselves and are silent, squeezing their eyes shut, holding their breath and they visibly hold the pain in.
Another way that rejection can play out is the type that constantly tells you, “it doesn’t hurt that much,” while limping. Often men are not supposed to experience pain in the same way women do. It’s not manly to cry, it’s not masculine to show fear or pain. These are things our society has pushed on men.
This is the rarest pain method. When someone devours the pain it becomes energy. The person doesn’t experience pain as pain but more as raw energy or excitement. These people get a pure charge from the pain. Masochists with this processing method tend to look really happy like they are on drugs while being inflicted with pain. Instead of a cathartic feeling, a person after play that has used the pain as energy will be bubbly, energetic and in good spirits.
Now, no matter what processing method you use, there are ways you can learn to process pain differently to enjoy pain play more fully, allow you to take more pain and to push your pain edge further.