Feeling the Balance Part 2: “Avoiding the pain trap”

Keeping a balance between feeling enough to attune to yourself and feeling too much to the point that you are emotionally ‘hijacked’ can be a tricky thing. When you are overwhelmed with your emotions, unfortunately you sacrifice some ability to understand yourself, others and your situation. When something hurts really badly, all you can focus on is the pain, and all you can respond to is the pain. Pain-focus can cause us to seek out behaviors that are not really nurturing to our needs, but are more geared toward distracting, escaping and numbing emotional pain. There is a huge difference between nurturing your emotional needs and reacting to pain. For instance, say you are very depressed. All you think about is how sad, disappointed and failure-oriented your life and self is. This pain-focused lens is neither accurate nor helpful. As long as you are in that mental space, you will over-emphasize negatives and failures, you will under-emphasize the positives and the strengths of yourself and your life. The behaviors associated with depression are often geared only to numbing that pain. Drinking, drug use, cutting, withdrawing from people, sleeping excessively, watching excessive amounts of TV or engaging in promiscuous and risky behaviors are all aimed at distracting yourself and avoiding pain. However, none of those behaviors are actually geared toward meeting your true needs. They don’t solve any problems, cultivate any relationship intimacy or move you toward a better footing with your life. This digs you deeper into the depression, because depression is the result of unmet needs. To pull yourself out of this downward spiral, focus your attention on really UNDERSTANDING what you feel and why, and communicate with others so you can receive their understanding and nurturing. Remember, pain breeds more pain–don’t numb what you feel, but don’t get caught in the trap of having pain obscure your true needs.

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