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Pain Has a Purpose—Use It!

by Simone Louise 3 years ago in self help
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How to Find Peace and Direction in 'Negative' emotions

In a world of 'Good vibes only', it leaves us to question: Is there a place for the 'Baddie vibes,' besides the deep pit in your stomach of denial? Can't we just lose ourselves in humour and distraction by imagining them in cute little biker jackets and shades, or as super-villains shrouded in capes and mystery causing trouble instead?

You know those nasty little fellows; the real crunchy and human negative emotions that used to connect us in mutual discontent or empathy, before wanderlust and Photoshopped perfectionism were #lifegoals?

Where in the hectic upkeep of this painted smile can we pause to ponder—are we using filters on more than our photos? Are we extending their range to our emotions as well?

The simple fact is, no matter where or how we live, at some time (in fact many times) in our lives we will experience what one might choose to call 'negative emotions.' The ones you don't generally hashtag. This can be difficult at the best of times, but believe it or not, these feelings are there to help you.

Now that last sentence might awaken a little indignant anger in some people, and rightfully so (especially us millennials). How can something be there to help me if it hurts? After the rise and implementation of an overwhelming movement of Positive Reinforcement in child rearing, business and life practices alike, punishment seemingly was painted as wrong. In this era, pain was to be avoided at all costs and pleasure sought in its place.

But the best things in life aren't pain-free. For example, the very thing that begins life, our birth into this world, was probably an 11/10 on a pain scale for our mothers, and yet here we are.

That brings us to the other heroes in the story: us. We humans are amazing. Yes, you are amazing!

Our bodies will react to help us survive without us even thinking about it.If our hand picks up an object that is too hot, such as a sizzling pan, the signal will bypass our brain and we will immediately drop it before we even know it is hot. This reflex arc, as it is known, is one of many natural responses inbuilt to the human function to keep us safe from harm.

On the other hand (let's say the yet uninjured one), imagine we are accidentally bitten by a short sighted but otherwise friendly unicorn when we try to hand feed it (Not likely, but in this distracted world, stimulating the imagination and dropping the occasional quirk or joke is one way to hold your attention in this golden age of easy access to funny cat videos).

If we are hurt, our body signals us with pain so that we may attend to the source of the pain, make sure we are safe, and to look after any injury.

Our bodies are made to favour survival. Physical pain has purpose, but what about emotional pain?

Emotional pain can be felt on a subjective scale and can also evoke physiological responses in the body, such as the release of hormones and sweat, and evoke perhaps the biggest killer of our kind we know: Stress.

Pain can range from mild bother, to discomfort or overwhelm, to 50 shades of your own personal heck.

So what is the purpose of emotional pain? Let us explore the idea that it is our teacher. It is our guide tugging at our heartstrings until we steer our bodily vessels into safe harbour from pain and heal our emotional wounds. Loneliness exists to trigger connection, embarrassment for behavioural self-modulation, and anger often a primal call for protective action.

It is all about one thing—survival.

But we will often not act until the fear of change is outweighed by the pain of remaining unchanged. And so pain here can be seen as the catalyst to change, to seek better and to be in ourselves better.

So that leads us to the hardest and also the most rewarding part of a healthy relationship with your unsavoury feels that don't even wipe their feet on the doormat before stomping all over your heart. Feeling them and listening to them.

To be fair, we live in a very unnatural world and we cannot always eliminate the danger we feel to our inner worlds when we are triggered to respond. This unresolved process can perhaps compound to traumatise or desensitise us.If we can take a screenless second to concentrate and listen, however, to these points on our complex emotional compasses and build our emotional response muscles, could we buff them up? If we cannot act on our emotions, would acknowledging them and understanding them as loving guidance to our wellbeing and innermost responses to the world around us bring us to a healthier conclusion?

Stop, not just because it's Hammer time, but because your negative emotions are an opportunity, a wonderful commodity that can earn you understanding and perhaps even peace within yourself.

That being said, we humans are a social species and aren't made to do everything alone. So next time you see one of those bad boys sneaking into the pit of your stomach or holding the breath in your chest, will you recognise this little teammate as an asset? A guide? A coach? A signal? A response? A positive and a part of you to embrace as purposeful and useful?

What if you can decide and steer with your feelings guiding you rather than screaming in desperation to take the wheel?

Hopefully you can embrace the pain as a stepping stone to gain (or at least figure out what a unicorn eats, anyway).

self help

About the author

Simone Louise

An Australian writer and visual artist, living in Melbourne, Australia.

She believes art to be an individualised fluid skill of expression with the potential to be applied creatively across multiple mediums in life.

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