A couple of years ago my son slipped while using a school sewing machine and broke the needle off inside his finger. We sat waiting in hospital emergency with the needle protruding from the middle of his fingernail. But fortunately he wasn’t in any real pain.
A young intern came to have a look at it and told Jules he’d have to have an injection to numb the finger so that the needle could be removed. Jules asked how painful this would be and the intern said, “Like a bee sting for 30 seconds.” Well, that did. Jules started whimpering and then howling his head off. This “imagined pain” scenario went on for about 10 minutes with everyone (nurses, intern and me) trying to console him. Eventually the actual surgeon came along and suggested a tranquilizer. Once the pill had worked its magic he then gave Jules 3 quick injections in the base of his finger which he hardly felt.
Within minutes the needle was out of his nail and we were on our way home. For the next few days Jules felt like a war hero. “I like injections!” was his revelation.
So why am I telling you this?
Whenever you’re in pain or upset, ask yourself, “Is this clean pain or dirty pain?”
What’s the difference?
Clean pain is real pain. A needle stuck in your finger.
Dirty pain is self created. By your own thoughts and perhaps vivid imagination.
(For example, worrying that the pain of an injection will be so bad that you’ll pull away and end up with 2 broken off needles stuck in your finger instead of one.)
Dirty pain lasts much longer than clean pain. Sometimes a lifetime.
But it usually dissolves quickly when we can catch ourselves at it.
Or as my dad used to say, “Why worry? It may never happen!”
There are a couple of really good systems to help you see dirty pain:
Byron Katie’s 4 questions.
Richard Moss’s Mandala of Being
Richard Unger’s LifePrints system
And a short cut?
Stop. Breathe. Feel where this emotion is in your body. Smile.
How hand analysis can help?
Horizontal lines on your hands indicate what kind of dirty pain you’re likely to subject yourself to. For example, horizontal lines on the top section of your thumb indicate you worry a lot. Whereas Venus girdles indicate a thin skin and a vivid imagination.
Here’s a picture of what Venus girdles look like.
A Venus girdle is a line or perhaps lots of little lines above your heart line under your ring finger. This indicates a vivid imagination. It also indicates a really thin skin. People who have these lines tend to be ultra sensitive to criticism. They can pick up vibes in a room way beyond what most of us can sense but the danger is they can also imagine stuff happening that may not be happening at all.
If you know this about yourself you can focus on the positive side; being sensitive and imaginative instead of torturing yourself with wild imaginings.
Learn more about hands here.
Our fingerprints are also a great help because they show us what kind of dirty pain we’re likely to subject ourselves to. What’s your core false belief? More about this, have your fingerprints analyzed or learn more about how this works here. Or join us in Earth School for our monthly topic calls.
14 thoughts on “Clean pain vs dirty pain”
I loved this article about clean pain versus dirty pain. It is so true that what you think strongly affects how you feel and this is all demonstrated on our hands. Before we had modern pain medications, surgery was often done without any anasthetics, and when patients underwent hypnosis, many patients reported no pain. Fortunately, we have pretty good resources to handle clean pain. It’s the dirty pain that can be most difficult to treat. Demonstrating that a person is indeed experiencing dirty pain is often one of the most difficult challenges we therapists face. For patients open enough to consider hand analysis, it can be very helpful to demonstrate hand indicators as described in this article by Jenna. Jenna, I love learning from you! Thank you for another great article!
Thanks Bonnie for your generous feedback! 🙂
I agree with you that dirty pain is a difficult challenge – I guess because often the person isn’t ready to see it’s self fabricated.
Love and hugs
I am sure none of us like pain, but yes I myself have come across people, who extend a clean pain to extents where it overpowers them. I often get scared of these problems, but then I try to console myself, thinking of all the logical reasons. Now I have this article of yours to support my reasoning.
Thanks Jeo. One way is to think of this is to think of feelings as weather. We get bad weather and make a video of it. Dirty pain is when on a sunny day we shut the blinds and play our video over again and again instead of enjoying the sunshine…
Clean pain vs Dirty Pain: It’s true – we certainly are capable of imagining things far worse than they are. Uncertain which mine is classified as, guess I classify it as FGS (Fainting Goat Symdrome). My mind has 1 idea, my body another. My husband bounded stair steps 2X2, landed on the big toe of my foot, & had to have the toenail removed. For some reason I always try to “HIDE” it when in pain. The Doc froze my toe, started working & apparently it wasn’t frozen enough cause I felt unexpected searing pain. They asked me if I was OK & I said yes (din’t want to be a wimp), kept trying to talk w/them. Their voices suddenly faded into the background & I heard them saying in slo-mo, she’s going D-O-W-N. Has happened to me a number of times, & you’d think I would learn to simply fess up, ehe?! Another time the Doc asked me before leaving after a procedure if I was OK, I assured them I was. They came back & found me passed out on the floor -ha!
Kelli, I love this thought – FGS – Fainting Goat Syndrome! 🙂
I think that’s the opposite of dirty pain. Real pain not recognized?
Great article, Jena! When I read this I thought about emotional pain and how we create it to be dirty or clean. Dirty being totally fabricated and clean being a pain caused by a real emotional event in our life. I’m thinking about a client who created so much heartache about wanting to break off a 3 year relationship with her boyfriend. During our session she invented a whole story about how he was going to react when she told him – first he would be deeply hurt, then he would start crying, then the anger would come through and she would have to just sit there and take it all from him. She was so sure how it would all unfold that she was loosing sleep and constantly crying, experiencing dirty pain in her heart.
In truth, when she talked to him, he was relieved because he, too, was feeling it was time to end the relationship!
After this experience she recognized how she caused herself unnecessary pain in her life over and over again with the stories she creates that often never see the light of day!
Thanks for all you do at Earth School that allow us to learn so deeply!
Thanks for sharing this story Linda. This is a perfect example of example of “dirty pain”. It’s incredible how we torture ourselves with the stories we tell ourselves.
Great that you could help her see this. Thanks for being with us in Earth School and contributing to questions and adding your stories.
Love and hugs
This article gave me a lot of food for thought. Most people I know, including myself, can get wrapped up in anticipating the worst. It’s nice to have some hints on how to tell the difference between what’s real and what we’re imagining. I Googled and bookmarked both Byron Katie and Richard Moss, and will go back to read more about their work. Plus the idea of approaching fingerprint life lessons from the aspect of the most probable core false belief will help me refine my Hand Analysis readings more. Thanks. I’m looking forward to your next article.
Thanks Bett, Linda in the previous comment gives a great example of anticipating the worst.
Regarding Richard Moss, here are some more posts about his system. Worth reading:
I’ve written more. Just search his name on Earth School
Byron Katie’s 4 questions:
What’s the thought that’s upsetting you?
Is it really true?
How does it make you feel?
How would you feel without this thought?
How can you turn this round? ie:where’s the mirror? How are you doing this to yourself or to the other?
All the best and thanks!
Nice article Jena, thanks for sharing with us.
Thanks Jena. I’m new to Earth School, so didn’t know it included so much. I’ll explore the links you provided.
You just have to dig a bit. Use the search function on both Earth School and on this site to find what you’re looking for.
Tahnks Jena for sharing this informative article on clean and dirty pain.