We Don’t Do What We Must Do Because We’re Afraid of How We’ll Feel

Good morning, good people,
Here’s another thing I’ve been aware of lately as I’ve been observing myself and the people around me:

We tend to avoid doing what we know we need to do because we’re afraid of how we might feel.

We are afraid of pain, in other words. We indulge in strategies to avoid pain, even when this results in long-term consequences that are dramatically worse than the temporary pain we would experience if we would just get off our butts and do what we know is in our best interest.

Do you see that in yourself? I do. On a small scale it’s easy to see evidence of this process in the ways that people live their lives. People think, “I don’t want to exercise because it will hurt. I don’t want to eat healthy foods because I can’t stand the discomfort of denying myself something I crave. I don’t want to say the thing to my partner or friend or boss that needs to be said because I’m afraid of the pain that their reaction will cause me. I don’t want to simply be myself because I’m afraid of the pain that other people’s rejection might entail.” And on and on like that.

In some ways, I think, people are more afraid of emotional pain even than physical pain. I would put myself in that category. We don’t want to face it; we assume we are inadequate to hard emotional experiences; we often just don’t have the willingness to go into painful emotional places, even if that’s required in order to avoid devastating outcomes down the road. I know people who have stayed in relationship situations, or job situations, or other kinds of situations, for years longer than they needed to, and in ways that were terribly unhealthy for them, simply because they could not abide the thought of the pain their action would cause the people around them, and the pain the awareness of other people’s pain would cause themselves. I’ve been one of those! Said another way, we’re willing to ignore the big picture reality that tells us how to orchestrate our lives such that they are good, deep, healthy, satisfying, lives that actually work, simply because we assume we cannot bear the feelings this would cause.

No more. Let’s not indulge in this conditioned process anymore, okay? Let’s all grasp our courage and our willingness and do what we know in our hearts we need to do. The unhappiness that results when we do not act assertively and decisively can show us our true path. Life is inevitably painful; courageous choices very frequently involve pain of all kinds; and yet the path that leads to happiness and peace goes right through that pain.

Thank you for your attention, friends. Be well and I hope you have a good day and a strong practice day.

In peace,
David

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