How often do you stand up for your right to feel pain?

Today is August 3 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you stand up for your right to feel pain?” People who navigate the chaos understand that standing up for their right to feel pain is a necessary strategy to use. Navigating the chaos without pain is virtually impossible. It may seem counter intuitive to stand up for your right to feel pain but doing so reminds you of your self-awareness. Such a heightened sense of self-awareness informs, guides, and instructs.

American singer, songwriter, and poet Jim Morrison believed experiencing pain is a necessary to feel alive. According to Morrison

“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that's bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they're afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It's all in how you carry it. That's what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you're letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.”

To unpack Morrison’s quote here are some additional questions to consider:

How often are you afraid of your own feelings?

How often has love hurt you?

Have you allowed pain to wake you up?

When do you try to hide your pain?

Have you garnered strength from your pain?

Have you recognized how your pain is part of your reality?

Do you hide your feelings to distort your sense of reality?

How do you carry your pain?

Have you ever had to stand up for your right to feel pain?

Researchers have been studying the connection between relationships and pain. One example is Geoff MacDonald, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto who observed: "We do ourselves a disservice when we try to ignore the pain and our emotions, or make them go away, rather than sitting and listening to them. These negative emotions are part of an adaptive response and healing process. If you love someone so much it hurts, take time to sit with that. Try to understand why the need is so great. There's something going on here that's bigger than this particular relationship."

In her November 14, 2015 Psychology Today article “5 Reasons You Have to Accept Pain If You Want to Be Happy,” Amy Morin echoed MacDonald’s research and remarked: “the biggest misconception about happiness is that the path to achieving involves avoiding pain. But pain is a necessary part of happiness, and research shows that it can lead to pleasure in five distinct ways.”

1. Pain helps you recognize pleasure: If you felt happy all the time, you wouldn't recognize it as happiness. You need to experience the opposite end of the spectrum sometimes to be able to truly recognize and appreciate happiness.

2. Relief from pain boosts pleasure: Pain isn't pleasurable, but relief from pain is. Studies show that when pain goes away, you experience increased happiness, above and beyond the level of happiness you'd experience if you'd never had any pain at all.

3. Pain forms social bonds: It's likely that you relate to other people more easily when you've both endured similar painful events in your life because pain promotes empathy, which is essential to social connection.

4. Pain gives you permission to reward yourself: When you have worked out, or completed some other difficult task, you are more likely to give yourself permission to enjoy a reward.

5. Pain captures your attention: Pain makes you aware of what is going on right now. And while that may not seem like a good thing on the surface, being in the moment is a skill people try hard to gain through meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.

How often do you stand up for your right to feel your pain?