I have a couple of beliefs myself, not really the religious kind, but still beliefs and still debatable. One of them is exactly the title, that pain is weakness leaving the body. If I could explain it better, I’d do it, but I can’t so I won’t bother. I will explain why I believe that, though. There are many types of pain, ranging from mental pain to physical pain, and the issue where I’m open to suggestions is which kind of pain is good – obviously the mental kind isn’t one, if we generalize it. Not all pain is bound to make us stronger, stress being at the very top of the list, and I could argue all day contradicting myself. However, if I were to make it more specific, I’d say it’s the pain we choose consciously, by challenging our idea of what we can or can’t do, by constantly pushing ourselves to the limit and gradually increasing that limit.
I’ve seen people do incredible feats bordering the impossible, pushing memory, reaction times and willpower to way beyond what normal individuals can do, myself included. I’ve seen too much evidence of the brain-body connection in the form of placebo effect, pain management, wound recovery and so on. In sports, pre-performance routines are known to improve performance, if stress was present. We still can’t understand how the brain-body connection works, but individually it can make a pretty big difference.
I know, I know, what does this have to do with the average individual? Well, I did write something a few days ago and I’ve been pondering it ever since – I think most people confuse happiness with the absence of pain – and suddenly, reading this sentence, my common sense was tingling. Deadpool, eat yer heart out. I recognized the cause for my own procrastination. I still think a manual for life would have been a good thing, in some areas I lack … skills, but this time I think I nailed it.
You see, I’ve been just free-floating most of my life. I ate, I slept, I drank, I’ve done things because I had to – and while this routine is usually called living I think there’s a better name for it, surviving. Like that story of the goldfish – you’re not hungry, you’re waiting to be fed. I am adrift, without a destination. Can’t say it’s not better than some other life stories, but is it the best thing for me? I don’t think so. I was happy, truly happy, when I was pushing myself, challenging whatever crap I took for granted. Only once that was done, I kept reverting to the old ways. I can’t do that anymore. It’s something I actually fear, now.
In life, we have good days, bad days and sleep. It’s a metaphor actually, only it seems idiotic. I mean, sometimes we’re happy, sometimes we’re not happy, and sometimes we’re just drifting wherever the flow takes us and we wonder why the time passes so fast. Well, pain is a certainty. We’re social individuals working to further our own goals – which means everybody else is doing exactly that. So what happens when the goals of two or more individuals don’t match? A conflict, that’s what happens, a conflict where nobody is guaranteed to be the winner but at least one is guaranteed to be the loser. What happens when one loses? Pain. Most of our lives are made of painful events. You get beat up and there’s a chance you come through it but if you’re mentally hurt it’s bound to stay with you a long time, longer than it would take for the physical wounds to heal. Most of our pain is psychological and so, in my opinion, the defense mechanisms are also part of the brain. I’m not really that worried of physical wounds as I am of psychological wounds, because the psyche is developing such coping methods, such defensive responses I’d rather call them mental disability.
You see, these mental processes that stem from psychological pain are something to worry about. They can cripple us. I fail at something and it’s no big deal, I can get up and try again. But if people laugh at me, make fun of my failure or manage to pin that failure inside my identity, that failure can become permanent. My brain’s way of protecting myself is either to rationalize the reason for failure or to take possesion of it. How? Well, rationalization is like cognitive dissonance – I look for reasons outside of myself, like I was forced to fail, or somebody sabotaged me, or I failed because the planes fly too low, or failing then means it wasn’t ment to be or whatever, any reason is good if I’m not to blame or there’s a perfectly valid future event I can reach only by failing at that past event. It’s usually done by blaming others, though. The other way is to believe I am a failure, sort of failing because I can’t do anything else than fail. I become the failure, it’s now part of my identity. I’m the guy that can’t succeed at that particular thing. This here line of reason is not only explaining why I failed (because I usually fail, because I can’t do anything right), but also serves as a way of avoiding future failure or at the very least it gives me a reason to justify it. If I know I’m a failure then whatever I attempt in the future will fail, because I’m a failure. It won’t hurt that much, because it’s who I am. It explains the future perfectly.
There are probably more ways to deal with failure, I can’t really say because I haven’t experienced them. Blaming others, relying on karma or destiny and identity as a failure are the only cognitive mechanisms I’ve used that I know of. All of them cripple, all of them eventually destroy who we are. If you believe there’s no reason to try to get better, you eventually stop trying and will start believing you’re happy when there’s no feeling of pain. Depression, anxiety, and so on, will be permanent guests in your life. You’ll get home from work, pop open a bottle of something, plant your ever-growing arse on the couch in front of the TV or computer and waste time, then sleep, go to work and start again. You’ll hate your job, because it’s bringing you nothing but pain and a steady stream of cash for food, rent and various utilities and you’ll dream of retirement when you’ll be doing nothing else but watch TV, play videogames, browse the funny pictures and sleep. Until you die. There’s no reward, nothing else but the death of your neurons and the only pain in your life will be doing the various chores you have to do. It’s also quite selfish because if you’re married, you’ll still be doing it because it makes you “happy”, regardless of what your spouse wants – you might even start associating your spouse with the idea of pain, and this is how divorce lawyers get their money.
I have been reading up on CBT lately in an effort to counter my anxiety issues and it’s a bit related to what I’ve written so far. Identifying thought patterns to supress destructive emotions seems exactly what it takes to get rid of emotional garbage. I’m no psychologist though, so I may be way way off the target but even so, it’s something to ponder. I know how to waste time, I’m rather good at it too. Failing is easy, success takes bloody effort. So what makes me happy? Pushing past my self-imposed limits. Pushing past whatever limits I’ve been assigned by those around me. Breaking through the barriers. Just watch me!