Pain and love – two sides of the same coin

Suppose you had a choice:

  • Option 1: you never had to experience a painful feeling ever again. That’s never. BUT, it means that you lose all capacity to love and care. You care about nothing and no-one. Nothing will matter any more. No one matters. Life becomes meaningless because you don’t care about anything whatsoever.
  • Option 2: You get to love and care. People matter to you. Life matters to you. You care about what you do, and what happens. You care about friends and family. You get to build loving relationships. Life becomes meaningful. And where there is a gap between what you want and what you’ve actually got, painful feelings show up.

Which option do you choose?

This choice puts us face-to-face with the human condition. If we are going to love and care, then we are going to feel pain. Love and pain are twins, joined at the hip. In order to avoid pain, some people try desperately not to want or care or love. They can try to do this in an amazing multitude of ways, from alcohol and drugs, to social withdrawal, to declaring that ‘Nothing matters‘, or ‘I don’t care about anything or anyone‘. Unfortunately, these attempts are doomed to fail – they actually end up causing more pain, not less.

Most people choose Option 2. But what if you chose Option 1? Maybe the pain you are experiencing right now is so unbearable, that it seems like the only choice. And maybe life right now is so painful that you’d do anything to stop the pain, no matter what the cost – getting out-of-your-mind-drunk, getting high, or staying in bed all day. Maybe these are ways of trying to stop the pain. I wonder how that is that working for you, and if you find yourself in this position, I encourage you to do the same. I wonder if these strategies aren’t actually making life less painful of more painful?

p.s. there’s a really good extract in Douglas Coupland’s Generation A which alludes to exactly this sort of false choice, and the consequences of losing love. Let me know if you’re interested, and I’ll send you the page numbers of the section I mean – I don’t have the book to hand right now.