How often do you let pain or anger derail you?

Today is April 21 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you let pain or anger change you?” Learning to navigate the chaos will invariably challenge your ability to manage your emotions, deal with pain, and control your anger. People, events, and situations will come across your path daily. How you react to each will determine your navigation efforts.

Humans experience various types of pain with emotional/social and physical as the two most common. Emotional pain refers to the death of a loved one, the break-up of a relationship, or the reaction to witnessing a special event such as a wedding.

New research has found that social pain activates similar brain circuits whether someone was suffering personally or if they experienced the pain as an empathic response to another person's social pain. From an evolutionary standpoint, these pain responses protect the individual but also fortify social connectivity which protects the collective.

Humans also experience physical pain. It turns out that physical pain has two components. One is called the sensory component and is related to the physical characteristics of pain, such as the location of the pain, the type of pain (pinprick versus a burn, for example), and the intensity of the pain.

The second component of physical pain is an “affective component,” which involves our interpretation of the pain, including how bothersome we perceive it to be. This affective component motivates us to take action to try to alleviate the pain and largely reflects an emotional reaction to pain in which we attach meaning to what we have experienced. In short, as a human, pain is inevitable.

As poet Nikita Gill wrote

“Pain changes people. This is no secret. But your pain speaks with wisdom. When you are a child, the same pain teaches you to not touch fire by burning your fingers. When you grow older the fire turns into people. Your pain will teach you how to be careful, but it will also teach you how to be compassionate to others, be kind to those who are hurting and how to be strong in the face of adversity. Allow your pain the power to change you in a positive, beautiful way.”

How often have you reflected upon pain and its impact on your ability to navigate the chaos? Has your anger derailed you from pursuing a goal? Do you allow yourself time to gain the wisdom from pain? How angry does pain make you?

The 2005 American romantic comedy and drama film The Upside of Anger dealt with pain through the words of Evan Rachel Wood’s character who said

“Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. It can change you, turn you, mold you and shape you into something you're not. The only upside to anger, then is the person you become…hopefully the person you become is someone who wakes up one day and realizes they're not afraid to take the journey…and that anger leaves a new chance at acceptance, and the promise of calm in its wake.”

How often do you let your pain or anger derail you?