Denial, withdrawal, and the isolation of one’s self from others. All are characteristic of a person experiencing the repercussions of deeply felt emotional pain. Self-inflicted pain, physically, mentally or emotionally, is far reaching and a stranger to no one. Show me an individual that claims to have never attempted to find a means of inflicting one form of pain or another on themselves at any given point in their lives, and I will show you the face of denial. But why would anyone want to feel pain?
The answer to that question is actually very straightforward: Because we want to feel alive, because we want to feel period. For some of us, pain has a purpose. It is all that remains to remind us that our hearts are still beating. A close friend once told me that the reason he liked being tattooed was because it was excruciating. He explained that this physical agony, which he actively sought out, was a means by which to feel something, anything at all. At the time I thought this to be a bit odd, however, after many years of observing those around me behave similarly in their own unique ways, I too have begun to see the benefits and advantages of feeling pain, even though my own personal pains are not physical.
If we ever wish to understand why it is we seek out and harbor pain, we must first start by finding the root or cause of it. We must identify and examine the instances in our pasts that set in motion the negative changes that would lead us to this very moment in time. Have we any hope within us of rectifying a problem and implementing the modifications necessary to forge a better existence, we must begin with an appreciation and comprehension of all the relevant factors that contributed to our present state of being. Only by doing this may we begin our journey in the pursuit of balance and harmony. We must realize that we need to always experience both ends of the broad spectrum of human emotions in order to fully appreciate them. To abuse one is to diminish its worth and, in very much the same way as any other addiction, you will eventually find that you require an increasing amount of it to achieve even remotely similar results. Sam Veda said it best: “A life devoid of struggles is a life bereft of happiness because the value of happiness is realized only after pain.”
Everyone has heard someone mouth the all too familiar platitudes we’ve grown to loathe and abhor: I share your pain, don’t dwell on it, you have to move on, this too shall pass, we all have problems, time heals all wounds, happiness is a choice, don’t linger in the past, there is someone worse off than you, etc. Personally, I find these to be less than helpful and mildly disingenuous, but I digress. We as humans would do well to teach ourselves how to take full advantage of both emotional pain and bliss. Discovering and using healthy outlets that work for us in times of need and heightened emotion is an ideal way of taking all of that energy, all of that joy or misery which has awakened the passion and fire within us, and using it to give birth to what may just end up being our greatest works.
Finding ways of harnessing all of this emotion is the key to becoming stronger and more resilient. I’ve found that when a person has dealt with a great deal of pain in the past, they are numbed or desensitized to the mundane issues that lie ahead and are able to venture forth in life with more confidence with respect to any future obstacles. How could those challenges yet to come possibly compare with what they’ve already endured to some extent in the past? In the end, it comes down to how you curtail your mindset and your actions to foster personal growth and development. All pain is not bad. It instills us with mental fortitude, can trigger and inspire us in ways we never thought possible, teaches us valuable life lessons, and so much more. But above all else, it is our own personal afflictions that teach us to treasure those special moments that, when all is said and done, truly make life worth living.