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When it feels like you should do anything to ease the pain, just for a second

A user from the Support Wall was being tempted to harm themselves to try and escape pain

Next Steps:

  1. Have you ever felt like a complete failure? Have you ever convinced yourself that the pain you feel will never go away?
  2. What do you turn to to cope with your pain? What gives you momentary relief?
  3. If your coping mechanism is unhealthy, what are the consequences that result? What eventually happens every time?

In the video, Casey talks about needing to take the intentional step to “clear away” things that get you stuck in what Dan called a “trench”. Trying to flee from pain by escaping into something else is extremely common - one could call it part of the human experience. Our brains don’t want us to experience pain, and they also want to fuel actions that bring “reward”- even if that reward only last for seconds or minutes.

Of course, when what we flee to ends up losing its appeal, we get hit with a double whammy. The dopamine-feel-good-brain-juice is gone, and we’re left with a cruddy feeling of loss or failure. That feeling, couple with an internalized voice that tells us “you deserve this” can keep someone on their knees for a long time.

So our job today is to identify, examine, gain resolution, clear away, and begin.

  1. Identify the root- the very basis - of your temptation to cope with something harmful. What are you escaping from? What do you fear to acknowledge? What do you refuse to confront?
  2. Examine why you choose to cope. Be honest with yourself. Are you afraid that facing your fear will result in even more failure? Are you simply exhausted of trying over and over?
  3. Gain resolution. Like the user on this Support Wall post, you feel an intense struggle, a deep desire to not flee into something harmful. You know quick escape won’t help you in the long run - so, get familiar with that feeling. You know the truth - so take the time to understand that truth. Write it down. Meditate on it. Show it to someone of character that you trust, so they can affirm that, yes - you are a good person, and you do matter.
  4. Clear Away the lies, deceptions, and smog cluttering your psyche. Get the chainsaw and the weed whacker out and clear away all of the weeds and underbrush. Pull the roots out. Clear yourself, give yourself grace for your failings, and prepare to begin again.
  5. Begin the journey of knowing your fears, identifying where they come from, fighting them with truth, clearing away, and moving forward. Build this process for when you struggle, and rewire your brain over time.

I went ahead and did the exercise myself, and here’s what I got:

  1. Totally! Sometimes, I’ll even beat myself up for beating myself up - right? Like, I’ll fail at something, and then feel bad for the failure, and then go further and beat myself up for FEELING like a failure.
  2. Most anything with a screen is an easy escape for me. Food too. Anything that can switch my mind to a different track so I don’t have to wrestle deeply with something I know I should
  3. Every time, the escape is short lived, and I end up having to put more work into the challenge that I originally had in the first place. I’ll escape, for example, doing some really important things around the house by watching TV or playing video games. The easiest metaphor I can think of is laundry - it doesn’t fold itself, and the more time I spend on the couch, the larger the pile gets.
  4. I mostly refuse to confront things that I know I will not succeed in. If success isn’t assured, or if there’s a risk of failure, I’ll shy away or throw up walls
  5. …yes.
    3.4.5. - For me, prayer and meditating on scripture has helped here tremendously. Calming and emptying my mind has allowed me to (it almost feels literal) clear away the dirt and grim that takes up valuable brain space and energy in my mind, and has allowed me to expand it and focus on the things that really matter.
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