The Two Extremes of Dealing with Life’s Challenges
August 16, 2012 @ 9:34 am by ACT
There are two extreme ways of dealing with our frustrations and difficulties. Both of these ways can be destructive and keep us from peak performance. Some people tend to repress their emotions, which often turns that pain into a ticking time bomb that will explode later. Others get into the habit of recycling and re-experiencing their frustration over and over which turns their pain into constant suffering and destroys any chance of living a meaningful life in the present. Venting allows us to release pain that can become toxic to our souls if contained. This is not simply having a good yell (or a good cry), but rather is a process of fully facing our feelings and allowing ourselves to experience the pain that are tempted to shove away.
Repressing pain can lead to the impact of losing joy for life. For many, the cost of escaping sorrow also means escaping joy. If you deaden negative emotions, it might mean that your positive emotions pay the same cost. So you live in a manner that avoids negative emotional experiences, but you create a life with no highs either. For some, this stability is worth the cost, for others they are living knowing that they are missing out on some wonderful, tender, joyous parts of life.
The other extreme and unproductive way that we deal poorly with our tendency to feel things very deeply is to recycle the pain. Recycling the pain and frustrations in our lives leads us to live in a constant state of victimhood. We remember and feel the hurts of yesterday as if they are happening today. Every unkind word or act of aggression against our soft soul is remembered and experienced over and over. We go from someone who was hurt badly to someone who LIVES in suffering. Memories carry the same intensity as current events and can taint our experience of our lives NOW, in the moment. Individuals who have been hurt and have fallen into the trap of recycling pain see aggressors and danger in every corner. They live like war veterans in a state of post traumatic stress. As a soldier may experience the sounds of a lawn sprinkler bringing back the visions of enemy helicopters, so a victim of abuse, betrayal or loss may be triggered by sounds, sights, smells or any other reminder of the past. Recycling is an understandable reaction, especially for those who have experienced multiple painful events, but recycling the past pain of your life guarantees that your present life will never be what it could be.
By resolving to neither repress nor recycle, by releasing frustrations that haunt you and by renewing your focus and energy, you can live with deep joy and yet also to do as Caymus says which is “Live to the point of tears.” A life full of tears and joy is a life led by the heart and a life worth living.
Note: This segment was taken from my upcoming book, Soft Souls Living in a Harsh World.