Blinding Pain & Forgotten Pleasure

Note: this post was wrote on my flight from L.A. to Hong Kong, before arriving in Bali.

Sometimes when we go through emotionally difficult times, we become blinded from the pain and as a result forget that pleasure even exists.

The best current example I have for this are break ups- you are literally grieving as if they died, but they can also exist in your world still and thus rub salt onto the wound.

When the pain gets to be so much, it can be all too easy to forget that pleasure of any kind can exist.

Personally I’ve observed in myself through a lot of reflection in the past few months that I have a tendency to let this “black hole” take over me so much so that I stop living completely authentically and I let myself continually get hurt because I stop taking care of myself.

For example, in June of 2018 when I had to leave Bulgaria I slowly began a downward spiral when I felt like I was losing the happiest time of my life, and then boundaries in my relationship were crossed and I was very hurt.

I stopped actively trying to make new friends, I became workaholic (I’m actually gonna delete many of my YouTube videos from that time because I cringe), and I stopped doing what actually made me feel good.

In the last month of Bulgaria I had just started experimenting with yoga and was experiencing great joy from it. I stopped doing yoga though, even though I knew that it would be best for me, and I didn’t start it back up until December of 2018- 6 months later!

Travel fatigue wore me out, and I also had a not-so-well-planned surgery in Thailand which I definitely should’ve done in USA. I had 4 wisdom teeth removed… with no anesthesia and not even laughing gas. Obviously that was just a bit traumatic, especially being all alone & culture shocked.

Do you experience the same? I observe this in many others. Someone loses a job, then they let their relationship fall apart, and then their health starts deteriorating too.

I believe this human experience- the downward spiral- is the cause of many misery and the reason most people don’t make positive progress in their life. We are all ultimately going to face challenges in our life. Even the “perfect life” comes with challenges as your parents, grandparents, and loved ones will pass away at some point in life. There is no escaping our mortality, at least now.

Why is it that if we experience some pain in our life we let ourselves downward spiral so much?

My guess for this is it has to do with “blinding pain” and “forgetting pleasure.” When you experience something traumatic or go through an extended period of time, your brain loses the capacity to feel normal motivation and pleasure. Things appear bleak and dark, hence why it is so easy to continue letting things fall apart.

The pain also does not put your mind in a resourceful state. It has been proven that people who are happy are smarter- your brain functions better. When you experience brain, your intellect & creativity literally goes down a bit which also adds to the downward spiral.

In this way I feel it is SO important to have a great support network. I feel like most humans lack the proper support network though. I’m grateful to have some great friends, and it’s much easier to come out of downward spirals… IF I actually reach out to the support network (and that’s a whole story in and of itself, the most famous/popular people can still isolate themselves from their pain).

 With a great support network you can release your emotions and be reminded that joyous times have existed and will continue to exist in the future. Human touch & good energy is probably the best healing remedy.

Other than that, I’m not quite sure what exactly can be done to remedy the situation yet. I have observed in my life periods of “upward spirals” but also periods of “downward spirals.”

My guess is the thing with life is you have to learn how to manage the down moments so that they don’t become downward spirals. When you lose someone to death, experience a difficult break up, or any type of trauma, you must somehow heal from it but also during the healing process not let your life fall apart in other ways.

Again that’s much easier said than done. You will likely not even feel like true pleasure can exist, and you lose the ability to feel the same degree of motivation.

I’ve had several moments of inspiration & joy, but occasionally the pain of my ex starts to suck me back down, and in those moments I often forget just how amazing this world is, and just how much opportunity there is.

There is a whole world to see, money to be made, relationships to be had, and experiences to experience- but it’s hard to see that or feel that when pain is blinding you.

No matter what pain you’re going through, you just have to remind yourself that there is joy and while you should definitely tend to your emotions and release, you should also keep putting one foot in front of the other and have faith that better times are coming.

Pain blinds us. Sometimes you can’t even feel pleasure while in pain, or you have no desire for it. The brain is also much like a bone. If you break a bone you can’t walk on it until it’s at a certain point of healing, and the same is true for break ups- you can’t get back in contact until you’re sufficiently healed. I am not at that level and a quick moment of contact again really hurt and set me back a bit (however it was also good in a way now because things were made amicable).

When you’re in pain and forget that joy exists, just keep moving forward. Have faith. Look forward to all the joy which is coming because it will with time. It won’t always feel good, but I believe if you keep focusing towards it that it will come.

There’s just a bit of a lag between moving into the joy and actually feeling it. For the moment pain is blinding, pleasure is forgotten, but with persistence it will return.

Most importantly do not enter a downward spiral. Self-care should be the #1 thing taught in school probably, but of course no school (or any system as far as I know) teaches how to take care of yourself when shit this the fan.

Have you experienced blinding pain & forgotten pleasure? Let me know. If you have any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear.

I’m writing this fairly tired on a long flight from L.A. to Hong Kong, so it may not be as concise as I wished but the point is just that in pain we become blinded to pleasure, which can often lead to downward spirals. I’m still learning how to prevent that as it’s happened to me, and slowly I’m getting better with the practice of moving up despite downward pull.

-Michael