It is often said that human beings are designed to seek pleasure and to avoid pain, and while there is no denying this; it would be inaccurate to say that they will always try to seek pleasure. There are times when people experience pain and instead of it being something that encourages them to do something else, it can cause them to carry on doing the same thing.
An Abusive Relationship
For example, someone could be in a relationship that is abusive and while the pain they experience should cause them to walk away, this might not happen. Instead of doing this, they might end up staying with the same person.
What this shows is that although the relationship is causing them to experience pain, it is not enough for them to leave. On some level, they are likely to believe that they would experience far more pain if they left, and so the pain they are experiencing ends up being bearable.
A Clear Example
It might be easy for one to relate to his example, and this could be because they have been in this situation or it might be because they have come across others who have been. There is also the chance that they have seen others experience life this way and that they have also been in the same position.
Therefore, although one’s actions are being influenced by their need to avoid pain, it doesn’t mean they want to experience pleasure; another way of looking at it would be to say that experiencing less pain is more pleasurable. Ultimately, they are doing everything they can to avoid the pain they believe they would experience if they were to do something else.
However, while staying in an abusive relationship is a clear example, this is not the only way in which one can harm themselves through wanting to avoid pain. There are also ways in which this can take place that are not as clear, and in these examples, one might not even realise what is taking place.
One could also be in a position where they don’t experience the level of success they want in their career, their need to experience intimacy with others might not be fulfilled or they might not be able to find the ‘right’ one and/or they might struggle to make ends meet, among other things. If one is struggling in one of these areas, for instance, they may feel as though they have no control over what is taking place, and they may believe they are unlucky.
It can then be normal for them to feel powerless and they are likely to believe that they are simply ‘observing’ what is taking place in their life. The outlook they have can be a reflection of the society they live in.
When one has relationship challenges, they are often going to be seen as unlucky, and the same can be said if they have money problems. The conditioning they receive from others can then set them up to believe that while there are in control of certain parts of their life, there are other parts that are out of their control.
If one is unable to experience the level of success they want to experience, for instance, they are likely to suffer. This is not to say they won’t do anything, but no matter what they do, it might not be possible for them to move forward.
And while they could continue to struggle and talk about how their life doesn’t change, they could take the time to look into what is taking place within them. If they were to do this, they may start to feel worthless, and as though they don’t deserve to be successful.
One might not be able to experience intimacy or to find the ‘right’ one, for instance, and this is going to cause them to feel frustrated and even hopeless. It is then not possible for them to get close enough to anyone or they keep attracting the ‘wrong’ ones.
They could carry on doing the same thing and continue to suffer, or they could look into what is taking place within them. Through doing this, they may find that they fear getting too close to another and/or they may feel as though they are unlovable.
When one finds it hard to support themselves, they are going to struggle in life. And even if they do have moments where they are supported, these moments might not last for very long.
One way for them to change how they experience life would be for them to do more, and through taking this approach, they may believe that they will finally get the support they need; that’s if they haven’t already tried this approach and realised it doesn’t work.
Another approach will be for them to take the time to reflect on how they feel about being supported. Once again, they may feel as though they don’t deserve to have their needs met.
Two Types of Pain
The examples above, along with all the other examples that one can think of, can be seen as ‘symptoms’, and while these symptoms cause one to experience pain, this pain often pales in comparison to the pain they would experience if they were to face what is taking place within them.
Yet, because the within them is so painful, they can end up being disconnected from it, and it is then going to be normal for them to be caught up with the pain they experience through avoiding the pain that is within them. But although the pain within them is painful, it won’t last forever if they work through it.
The pain they experience through avoiding how they feel is not going to be as painful, but this pain can end up staying with them forever. Over time, their life is likely to get worse, and this is why it is going to be important for them to face their true feelings.
When one feels worthless and as though they don’t deserve something, is likely to be a sign that they are carrying toxic shame. And because of how bad one can feel when they are carrying toxic shame, it can be normal for them to disconnect from their true-self and for them to create a false-self.
As a result of this, one is going to live on the surface of themselves, and it is going to be challenge for them to see why they are experiencing life in a certain way. In order for them to let go of their false-self, they will need to work through their toxic shame, and the other feelings that have built-up within them.
This is a process that can take place with the assistance of a therapist and/or a support group.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.