After a trauma, we are desperate for a distraction. Alcohol, movies, food, sex, work, exercise, hobbies… we find something to alleviate the pain. And yet, ironically, we feel confused by problems that seem to repeat themselves: break ups, losing jobs, diet failures, you name it.
A random quote stopped me in my tracks this morning:
I know a lot of guys (and girls) who think they’re tough and take pride in their strength because they don’t cry or fall apart when really bad things happen. They’re the stoic ones. The ones who seem numb to pain.
But no one is actually numb to pain without severe damage somewhere. Pain is a perfectly natural alarm system notifying the body that damage has occurred and requires immediate attention. Pain saves lives. Pain helps us avoid greater loss. Pain is one of our most valued messengers.
If you’re one of those tough guys who never cries or lets people know when they’re hurt, congratulations: you’re more likely to repeat failures and negative cycles in your life.
We repeat what we don’t repair. Why? Because the damage has already occurred. And damage to one system triggers every other system to adapt and work around the damage. But the body and the soul aren’t designed to function in a less-than-ideal state for long periods. It’s an emergency relief system that allows you to survive. For example, when your brain senses danger, blood is directed away from your stomach toward your extremities. Arms, legs and core muscles get the blood so you can use all your strength and speed to escape impending doom.
That’s an example of your body redirecting the normal workflow to accommodate a crisis. But once the crisis is over, the blood has to flow back into the other less organs. Without proper blood flow, your body stops digesting food and circulating nutrients to your body. So the crisis mode HAS to end in order for long-term survival.
Stoicism and emotional suppression are short-term crisis responses that allow you to get out of danger before you fall apart. But ignoring the pain doesn’t mean the body or soul has been fixed. In fact, ignoring the pain and discomfort almost never fixes the problem.
So if you don’t repair it, you’ll repeat it. Relationships, faith, kindness, generosity, discipline, duty, diet, sleep. Repair it. Make it your top priority. Or you’ll just end up back here again. Probably in worse condition for the lost time.
You can do it. And if you have no clue where to start, do what I do: Look for the person in your life (even an acquaintance) who is the most diligent and persistent researcher. Ask someone with the skill of seeking, asking, and looking for a resource to help you start.