There are people–maybe you’re one of them–who genuinely enjoy pain just like you might enjoy a foot massage. I know that seems odd to many of you but the only reason most of us have similar-ish likes is that we were all raised in a similar way. Add just one oddity to someone’s upbringing and they can easily end up liking something like being scared or in pain or in danger. This can happen based on even one notable but pretty basic experience.
There are people who get tattoos for the pain, work out for the pain, run for the pain, lift for the pain, there are people who enjoy piercings and S&M and BDSM, not to mention the people on Jackass. So that proves that people can take unpleasant feelings and somehow rewrite them to positives, and if they can then you can too. You can take the negative feelings you currently have and you can rewrite them into something enjoyable.
Anger is a reaction to a fear. Find out what fear is holding your back and realise that your growth is on the other side of it. The place where you expand is outside of your comfort zone. So to develop a skill of any type you must be willing to fail and be wrong. But those are also the steps that lead to ability, so rather than be afraid of failing and being angry about having to face it, we could convert that feeling into the big, confident sensation we get when we know we’ve prepared well.
Sadness is a reaction to disconnection. The sadder people are the more their discussions are sad and the less people are motivated to listen. If the person is sad long enough people surrender hope they’ll change and they just see them as a generally sad person. But if someone can’t help their friend’s sadness and low energy and they’re no fun to be with then it makes sense that disconnection will eventually happen. It’s healthy for the healthy person to disengage.
If you’re the sad person you can use those departures as fuel for your negative self-defeating narratives or you can see it for what it is: information. It’s no surprise that people hang around other people who are fun and interesting and people who are sad all the time are neither. By enjoying yourself you’ll attract other happy people and that will create more connections and a greater sense of belonging and happiness. But to do that you have to be out there.
Keep in mind you can also pervert good feelings into pain. I know people who hear about the struggles of others but don’t care at all. Their lack of empathy robs them of the rich feelings that go with connecting with others. Some people care but they don’t really give it much consideration so they skip over some bad feelings but they miss out on the good ones too. And then there are people who are tortured by the plight of the less fortunate and they are angry, hurt and largely ineffective.
Those angry hurt feelings could be wonderful feelings of rich connection if they were converted from thoughts about how things should be into actions of leading to how they could be. Your compassion is worth far less to you if it’s not going and helping out and connecting with friends or helping at a shelter or something somewhere where you can convert your compassion into a wonderfully meaningful shared experience.
Just like with pain we can use compassion to hurt ourselves or we can use it to teach ourselves to consciously enjoy a rich life. The choice is ours.
Feelings are feelings. You tilt them with your thinking. Anxiousness can be excitement. Worry can be potential. Fear can be determination. Sadness can be connection. It all depends on what you actively do.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.