Every person will experience suffering at some point in their lives. This suffering and agony can cause immense pain. Our first reaction to this pain is ‘how do I make this stop?’ However, the danger with going down this path is, we don’t give ourselves time to heal. When we experience pain we have two choices: to face our suffering and heal the pain, or cease the heartache and numb ourselves. These turning points are critical in our journey to happiness because one path leads us towards healing and eventually finding joy again, while the other path leads us towards more pain and suffering.
It’s easy, almost too easy, to numb our pain these days. But if we choose this route, there are usually devastating consequences. Initially, that numbing feeling feels like a relief. It doesn’t have too many consequences when we numb ourselves for the first time, but eventually, we’ll keep going back to this coping method and it becomes an addiction. Once we replace our pain with addiction, it will eventually bring up more intense feelings of pain and suffering. We get caught in the cycle of numbing our pain, and through our numbing, we further intensify our pain and suffering.
It is human nature to shy away from painful feelings. People who numb themselves are not bad. They are simply having a human reaction by craving relief from the painful parts of life. What they’re feeling is so overwhelming that all they need is some momentary relief from the suffering. The struggle with this pattern is, the pain then starts to permeate every aspect of their life.
Have you ever seen the movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? It was filmed in 1993 and stars a much younger Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio. There’s a story that unfolds about Gilbert Grape’s mother, who is lovingly called Momma. Momma isn’t able to leave the house because she weighs over 500 pounds. Throughout the movie, the audience learns how she gets to be this way, and you learn that the root cause of her food addiction is pain. Many years ago, her husband commits suicide, leaving her as a single mother of four children. After his death, the pain was too much to bear so she turned to food to ease the agony. She continued to gain weight and became too embarrassed to leave the house. This embarrassment caused her more pain, which led her to crave the comfort of food and created a vicious cycle.
I love Momma’s character. She is an incredible woman who has been through so much in her life. To support the ones we love, and ourselves, we must come from a place of compassion and understanding.
People turn towards addiction and painkillers because they are hurting. It’s usually not because everything is going wonderful in their lives and one day they decide to try drugs. Most addictions stem from the urge to make the suffering stop. People use things like drugs, food, alcohol, sex, and video games to make life a tiny bit more bearable.
If we want to improve our lives, we must stop judging our own addictions, or the addictions of others. Every person, at their core, is beautiful. Instead of judging the addiction, we can begin asking the following questions: What’s going on here? Why am I (or they) turning towards this pain killer? What is the root cause of this pain? We are all capable of getting better and healing that pain, but it starts with identifying what is causing us to suffer.
We are here on this Earth to improve ourselves and our lives. When we choose to numb our pain vs. face it head-on, we may stop it in the short term, just for a moment. And that moment of being pain-free is so satisfying. But, then we become addicted to that relief, and we are willing to sacrifice anything to get that relief again. In the long run, this type of medication doesn’t heal our pain, it only adds to it.
If we choose to numb ourselves, the pain stays there and eventually gets infected, and in extreme cases may kill us. Emotions are similar. When we’re feeling emotional pain, we must heal those feelings. But what if we don’t have the right tools to heal ourselves? The first step is to figure out if there is pain in our lives. Next, we can explore if there are things happening, or that have happened in the past that are causing us pain, right now? If there are, we know we have two choices: to either numb this pain, or begin to heal and feel better.
This choice sounds so simple – so why doesn’t everyone choose the healing path? Let’s look at an example. You cut yourself very badly, badly enough that you need to go to the ER. At the hospital, they rinse out the cut really well, and this process is very painful without any painkillers. Instead of rinsing out the cut, it might be easier to just numb the area so we don’t have to feel any pain. But, this won’t make us better. It may make us feel better in the short term, but we can only avoid the healing process for so long.
If you’re reading this right now, and you’re struggling with managing your pain, it’s important to forgive yourself and cease the judgment. Instead of telling yourself the narrative that you’re bad or not strong enough, you should instead ask yourself ‘what do I need to get better?’ From here, it’s important to take it one breath or one moment at a time. It can be hard and painful, but if you focus on the goal of making your life a little bit better than yesterday, it will eventually become easier, and life won’t feel quite as painful.
Along with looking inward and asking ourselves how can we heal ourselves, we can seek support from people who can help us. These people, just like this podcast, can offer new insights and tools to help us lead a beautiful life. The key is to continue developing these skills each and every day. When we master these skills, we get better at dealing with painful things that happen throughout our lives.
The ultimate goal is to become comfortable dealing with the ups and downs of life. It’s tempting to turn towards things that numb our pain. But, if we can develop these skills, perhaps from outside help or by listening to this podcast, we can eventually lead a happier life. We’ll no longer shy away from the pain of our own emotions and we can reach a point where we say that life is good.
About the Happiness Podcast:
Do you ever wonder what it takes to lead a peaceful, happy life? Are you curious about the specific steps involved in a self-actualized, limitless life? Are you struggling with anxiety or depression? Or are you just plain tired and want some help? We explore all these concerns and more every week on the Happiness Podcast, which has been downloaded over 9 million times since its inception. Happiness does not happen by chance, but because we take specific actions in our lives to create it.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D., author of 13 books, TV show host, Psychology Today blogger, and corporate trainer, has been studying the actions it takes to reach the highest levels of human achievement for decades, and he wants to share what he knows with you. Come and explore, along with millions of others from the Happiness Podcast, Dr. Puff books and Psychology Today blog, private clients and corporate workshop attendees, the specific steps to take so that you can soar in your life.
To learn more, go to: https://www.happinesspodcast.org
Contact Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D., Newport Beach Psychologist:
Dr. Puff, Corporate Trainer: https://www.SuccessBeyondYourImagination.com
Dr. Puff, Clinical Psychologist: https://www.DoctorPuff.com