Our culture seems big on promoting the pursuit of feeling happy, feeling good. Comfort is everything and the marketing industry seems eager to sell us just the right thing or experience that we need to find that happy, feel good feeling. And yet that sought after feeling always seems to fade away.
Comfort, the enemy of progress.
– P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman
I wonder about this intense pursuit of comfort and feeling good, it’s the drive that fuels addictions. It may seem obvious, but this pursuit seems propelled by an intense need to not feel uncomfortable, to not feel emotional pain. I wonder how many internal and external resources could be freed up in our lives if we had more resiliency for feeling discomfort and pain, enduring those hard Fall-like seasons with beloved friends, trusting that it will pass and Spring will come again.
Loneliness has a way of intensifying the already painful feelings – adding to the weight that already feels too much. I wonder what would happen if we could feel the sadness, validate the pain, and have witness in that space, to have company, to have someone help carry the weight with us, to not be alone.
I think of the movie Inside Out, where Joy tries to cheer up Bing Bong after his red rocket is taken away from him, but it doesn’t work. When Sadness comforts Bing Bong’s pain by validating it and entering into it with him, the feeling passes and he’s ready to continue on.
I also think of this little video by Megan Devine:
Maybe it’s possible to accept the pain, invite a trusted, safe person in and grieve, trusting that the pain will end and joy will once again emerge. That sounds a lot more sustainable than trying to medicate away the pain.