Freud was right about one thing; the ego is a force to be reckoned with. It is the ego that trips the switch for fight or flight. And it is the ego that recognizes both pain and pleasure. When we perceive stress, often times we acknowledge the pain it brings (to the ego) and often our response is to balance the pain with pleasure. Pleasure can come in many forms, from soothing our emotions with comfort foods or alcohol consumption to retail therapy, even tattoos. Oddly enough, it can also show up in sarcasm, cyncicism and whining (as a form of validation of our stress). None of these “If I feel pain, I will seek pleasure” behaviors are healthy, yet they are very common, perhaps all too common.
Stress Tip for the Day:
Do you reward yourself to compensate for emotional pain? From now on, when you encounter something that trips your stress response, do your best to observe your emotions, specifically emotional pain in the form of anger or fear. Process/recognize these emotions (all emotions are valid, even though the reasons may not be). Then, rather than react with pleasure-seeking behavior (short term ego rewards), respond by staying in the present moment by returning to your emotional still point of neutrality. Remember, seeking pleasure is great, but if the motivation is to drown out the pain, the search for pleasure is a reaction, not a response. Over time, this becomes an addictive behavior making you fall victim to your ego. This becomes a never-ending cycle. Returning to your emotional still point is a skill and it takes practice, but like anything else you practice, you will become better and better, and once you achieve mastery of this skill it is called empowerment.
Books, Movies, and Links Worth Noting:
Here are a few links on today’s theme. Enjoy!
Quote for the Day:
“The ego reactions, the soul responds.”— Brian Luke Seaward (from the book, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water)
Photo of the Day:
While skiing a few weeks ago with a buddy of mine (hi Matt), he gratefully posed for a few shots of the Rocky Mountain High. Matt was experiencing all pleasure without the pain… a great response to the stunning beauty.
Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 12 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (7e) and the newly released, A Beautiful World: The Earth Song Journals. He can be reached through his website: www.brianlukeseaward.net
© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.