Like the differences in physical pain, such as a pinched nerve or a pulled muscle, emotional pain comes in a variety of forms. There’s the ache in the hollow of your insides when you lose a loved one, or the sting in the temple of your head when you are embarrassed.

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Then there is the dull weighted pain of unresolved injustices that people inflict within families and link everyone together like yoke on oxen.The weight of this pain moves everyone along in one direction, but without any real progress.

At some point, those who caused the pain may be gone, but the yoke is still there. No one thinks to lift it off. So the pain continues, a burden for the family to bear. The pain becomes familiar, so it feels normal, like if you’ve had a bad back for years. You learn to live with it.

When the weight of the pain is unbearable, some lift the yoke and walk away, leaving the rest to carry the weight. That may free them from the burden, but they will never be able to return without the possibility of picking up that weight again.

Alternatively, everyone could work together as a team to dismantle the yoke, freeing themselves from the pain. This takes effort and forethought, and may seem harder than just living with the familiar pain. Though, the payoff in the end would be that choosing to be together as a family would be based on mutual interest as opposed to a man-made construct.

When we spend time with our families today, or just interact with anyone in daily life, we should think twice about yoking them to the pain of an unnecessary construct. It’s easy to continue moving on as we are accustomed as opposed to making a positive change. But by being patient and treating others with kindness, we can help alleviate much of the pain, not just for others, but for ourselves.

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