Pain is a primary emotion. It has several emotional by-products which may come from it such as anger, jealousy, depression, hatred, and confusion. The types of emotional by-products we feel depends on whether we turn our pain inward or outward.
Pain Turned Inward
Pain turned inward breeds depression and self-blame. We take pain into ourselves making it a part of ourselves. We start believing we are pain incarnate and bring pain to all we touch. We become despondent. It is not so much because we do not see meaning in life; it is more because we simply want the pain stopped yet seem unable to stop it.
When we make pain a part of ourselves and sink into depression, we start living in limits. We look at the world and our environment in terms of what we cannot do, not what we can do. We clutch our pain and limits to ourselves not seeming to realize that by insisting on holding on to our pain and limits, we keep them truly ours. We cannot be free of our pain unless we allow it to leave us.
By clinging to our pain we depower ourselves. We begin to believe we have no other choice but to feel pain. We argue for our limitations thereby adopting them and limiting ourselves.
I had a friend who told the story of how fleas were trained for the flea circus. According to my friend, fleas loved to jump. Jumping is a thing that brings more joy to fleas than anything else they could do. When fleas are captured for the flea circus, they are placed in jars and the lids are screwed on. When the fleas jumped in the jars, they would hit their heads on the lids. They still wanted to jump, for that is what brings them joy, so they learned to jump just high enough so that they wouldn't hit their heads. The trainer then comes back and takes the fleas out of the jars and puts them in the circus. Even though the fleas now have the whole sky above them, they still do not jump past their now self-imposed limits. Even though the fleas are now free, they have made the limits truly theirs by refusing to go beyond them. These fleas have turned their pain inward and will not allow themselves to experience the full joy of jumping because of their fear of being hurt again.
Pain Turned Outward
Pain turned outward breeds emotions such as hate, anger, and jealousy. Anger is simply the cry we make when we push pain away from ourselves. When we turn our pain outward, we look for someone or something to attach blame to. When we do this we may be depowering other people.
Often when we affix blame to another person or become angry with a person, we become caught up with the idea of obtaining justice. Often justice is not enough for us, we want revenge. We not only want to be equal in power to the party we are angry at, we want to be above them so we can make them pay, make them suffer, or make sure they never hurt anyone else like they hurt us. We use techniques that we feel will be successful in depowering others.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
When we use depowering techniques, we can expect depowering techniques to be used with us. Depowerment is meant to bring pain. When people feel pain, they will react out of pain and make attempts to depower others to gain their power back.
Becoming involved in depowerment can become a vicious cycle. We are continually in pain because of the revenge effort of those we have tried to depower. Because of the continuing pain, we become more and more intent on easing the pain. Like an animal caught in a trap, we make efforts to move and get away from the pain or make stabs at the attacker believing this will ease or stop the pain. We may end up injuring ourselves worse than if we had just done nothing.
We continue to depower bringing depowerment back to ourselves, never seeing that the very way we deal with our pain is what continues to bring it to us. By concentrating on depowering techniques when we are in pain, we fail to make use of other techniques which would heal the pain. Again, we become so caught up with the pain that we won't let it go so we can heal. The only way that pain will heal is by letting it go; giving up that part of us that wants to continue to feel pain.
There is a story about the difference between heaven and hell. In both heaven and hell there is a long banquet table brimming with food. In both heaven and hell the people have chopsticks three feet long which must be used to eat the food. In hell the people keep trying to feed themselves with the chopsticks and thus they starve. In heaven the people feed each other and enjoy the feast.
Like the people in hell, we concentrate on trying to relieve our own pain. We still need to learn that the way to ease our own pain, the way to get our needs met, is to be like the people in heaven. We need to concentrate on easing each other's pain and allow others to ease our pain.
Pain and Character
We begin our lives with a rude shock, for we are spanked into existence. Perhaps it is from this beginning that we assume pain is good for us and builds our character.
Pain teaches us to hurt. When we are hurting, the pain occupies our complete attention. We are not focusing on learning from our behavior but on ways to reduce the pain.
Even after the situation has ended and the pain has gone, we may remember the pain and resentment we felt rather than our actions at the time. It is as if the emotion had blocked out everything not directly connected to it. We talk about being so hurt that all we could do was think about how to get even.
Pain is used as an excuse or justification for behavior. If we use pain as our justification for causing pain, then the only character pain builds is negative character. Hurt and hatred do not bring kindness or love.
We Don't Have to Hurt Anymore
Somehow we believe that hurting and being hurt are a part of life. We play games with each other and hurt each other because we feel we must to survive in this world. We abandon our ethics, never giving them a chance to see if they work. We limit ourselves by accepting depowerment as the way life must be.
When you start to depower and give pain to others, use your ethics, remember what it was like to feel pain. When people act out of pain and try to depower you, do not assume they are evil. They are acting out of pain. They are acting out of frustrated needs and wants.
Remember, the way to stop their pain so that they won't have to hurt anymore (and so you don't have to get hurt) is by finding the key to meet their needs and set them free from their pain. You may not be able to do it, but it is worth the try. Freedom from pain will never be accomplished by depowerment. To break the power of pain, we must empower.
Power and Empowerment: The Power Principle
by Lynn Atkinson, Ph.D.
Published by New Falcon Publications, Tempe, Arizona, USA. http://newfalcon.com
Click here for more info and/or to order this book.
About The Author
Lynn Atkinson has been a combatant in various struggles for power, observed various struggles for power, and has thought out and rethought her own personal philosophy in light of her own experiences.