I keep hearing the song “Stubborn Love” by the Lumineers wherever I go. It is playing on the radio in my car, on Pandora when I’m at the gym and in the store when I am doing my shopping. There is a line in this song that cuts to my core every single time I hear it . . . “It’s better to feel pain than nothing at all.”
We live in a society that is constantly looking for a new and better way to avoid our feelings. We binge or restrict our food intake, we drink alcohol, we use drugs, we zone out on the internet, we gamble, we game, we watch porn, we bury ourselves at work. We are addicts, period. We are terrified of our emotions and especially of feeling pain.
Our goal should NOT be about searching for the next quick way to numb out but rather to find ways to sit and tolerate the pain. I’m not suggesting we feel pain alone however. We must work to reach out and connect with our children, partners, sisters, brothers, parents, friends and neighbors. These people in our community experience pain just as you and I do. We may be separated in many other ways but when it comes to emotions it is the one thing we have in common. By turning TOWARD others we reduce our feelings of shame. By AVOIDING our feelings we increase the likelihood of internalizing the pain and finding ways to hurt ourselves, thus, increasing the shame.
I can tell you from my own personal experience that when opening up to others who share a similar painful life experience as myself I feel better. Every single time I talk about my pain, the weight that once pushed me to the ground becomes a little bit lighter. If it feels like too grand of a task to start opening up to your community of friends and family then try to find a support group that has a specific focus on what you’re struggling with.
We are conditioned to believe that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. I, however, feel that those who can truly sit and BE with their emotions, even when its messy and full of suffering, are the strong ones. Feeling intense feelings reminds us that we are human. We cannot escape suffering. Suffering is part of the human journey.