How To Deal With Emotional Painby Chris Fritz
Last week we talked about going with the flow. This week we’ll discuss the importance of feeling without reacting.
We often get into trouble by reacting tactlessly to emotional stimuli. When we feel afraid or angry, we compromise our boundaries of personal behavior.
This leads us to take actions we later regret:
We lash out with fury and turn friends into enemies
We sever relationships and abandon good opportunities
We lay out ultimatums that we’d rather not adhere to — “If you do this again, I’ll do this”
We sacrifice long-term trust and intimacy to win a tiny argument
We slap the shit out of a prominent peer on national television
The reason we lose control is that we have an unhealthy relationship with pain — both before and after we experience it.
Pain is a biological signal that something is wrong and that we need to take action or die. We primarily react to pain in two ways:
Fear — the perception that we will soon experience pain
Anger — the perception that we’ve been afflicted with pain we didn’t deserve
Quote of the Week
“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” — Seneca
Not All Sensations Are True
One fascinating thing about our senses is that we experience things that aren’t real.
We see animal shapes in the clouds, we taste vegetables and baking spices in plain wine, and we hear the footsteps of intruders who turn out to be nothing but bumps in the night.
The same phenomenon impacts our perception of pain and discomfort. Most of our sensation of pain isn’t actually pain, but a response to the idea of pain, like fear or anger.
As a result, our reactions don’t alleviate our pain — they simply alleviate our fear or our anger, and they allow the pain to linger. Even worse, our reactions set us up to experience more pain in a future chain of reactions.
So how should we respond to pain? We analyze the source of our pain, assess the level of ongoing threat, and act to resolve the situation.
If we’ve been injured, we seek healing — not revenge
If we’re under attack, we enforce our boundaries
If the source of pain continues to harm us, we remove the source
Pain isn’t a bad thing — it’s a signal that something needs to change. The key to protecting your joy is learning to analyze, alleviate, and prevent pain by setting boundaries and seeking healing.
Don’t be ruled by anger and fear — turn pain into progress by feeling it, learning from it, and then letting it go.
Question of the Week
When was the last time you felt anger or fear? How did you react? Was your reaction helpful, or hurtful? Most importantly, what steps have you taken to prevent the same scenario from happening again?
Live On Purpose // Die Without Regrets
Each Wednesday, I publish a 3-5 minute newsletter + video podcast that applies ancient wisdom to modern life.
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