It wasn’t too long ago that I’d find myself whining relentlessly to anyone who would listen. I would be in an uncomfortable, awkward, or less than desirable situation, and I would immediately begin searching for someone to commiserate in my displeasure.
It’s almost a law of nature – no one likes to suffer alone.
When humans experience pain, there is a psychological process that occurs in order to transform our physical sensations into something that is readily disposable. First, we have to feel it. Second, we have to express it (this is the step that most of us either skip all together OR we get caught here, circling back and back again through an excessive communication of our displeasure.) Third, we have to change it. Of course, this three step process isn’t always executed as simply as it is stated. Nevertheless, it is a cycle that we are continuously moving through, be it intentional or otherwise. But while some people simply want a witness to their suffering, there are others who actually enjoy living in misery.
There is not a single good book or movie where the main character does not endure some type of pain, however extreme or trivial. Suffice to say, suffering creates a sense of drama that attracts quite the crowd. Every time we got stuck in traffic when I was kid, my dad would jokingly refer to the piled up cars as “rubber-necking delays.” It took me a while to understand and actually experience this frustrating reality, but it’s true. When an accident occurs on the side of the road, traffic jams are oftentimes caused by passing cars slowing down so that drivers can get a good look at what has happened. Basically, we’re all just trying to get front row seats to watch someone else’s bad day.
So why are humans obsessed with misery? Why are we so desperately attached to pain?
One reason I can find is that we have a tendency to identify strongly with our personal experiences. We define ourselves by the things we have done or the things that have happened to us. When something outrageous, tragic, overwhelming, traumatic, or even infuriating occurs, we often cling to this experience as part of who we are as a person. We tend to gravitate towards the cycles of suffering because the stories that are associated with pain tend to be more complex, more interesting, more… unexpected. In trying to identify ourselves as beautifully complicated and intricate individuals with interesting and exciting lives, we cling to our pain and we search for suffering.
This is not a conscious effort – most times. In fact, when we fall into the cycles of suffering, it feels like we are experiencing the exact opposite of what we want. It feels like we have lost control of our lives and we are drowning in the tides of displeasure. But if we stop and take a good hard look, we might discover that we are actually asking for all of it by subconsciously searching for a life filled with drama.
Okay, so I get that the title of this blog post might sound a little harsh – I don’t really mean to tell you to get lost. But I want to ask you how you are getting off on your daily experiences? Are you avoiding true pleasure by identifying with your pain?
Personally, I find the cycle of suffering to be completely and utterly boring. I turn on the radio or the news and I hear the same tragic events repeated over and over, just in different variations and locations. I’m talking about the endless barrage of grievances being announced with zero to little human emotion, followed by advertisements and conversations about sporting events. I’ll admit, there was a point in my life where I would *gasp* (sometimes, I still do) at the horrific nature of the crime being reported or the catastrophic loss that other people were experiencing. I’d wholeheartedly say to myself, “Wow, I am so lucky!” But it’s not exciting to me anymore. And quite frankly, it’s a pretty depressing thought that I need to hear about someone else experiencing pain in order to realize the bounty of my blessings.
So what if we changed the script? Instead of getting off on the dramatic cycles of suffering, what would happen if we consistently experienced profound pleasure and joy? How would that change things? What would it mean for our world if we dropped the drama?
What if all humans became obsessed with beauty and harmony?
Before we achieve inner enlightenment and world peace, we must first realize that we are creating the cycles of suffering that we claim to despise. This is the nature of sexual energy – it has infinite potential to create either complete destruction or total sanctity. The choice is ours. Of course, harnessing the infinite capacity of our sexual energy can seem quite daunting at first, especially if we’re holding onto shame and guilt surrounding our individual desires and creative power.
So when you are getting off on the perfection of your current state, I want you to ponder this…
Your whole body and being is pulsing with a desire for union and freedom. Within you lies a reservoir of wisdom to create circumstances and find people that will bring you pleasure. So what does that desire feel like in your body? What does it look like? How can you vividly express it? How can you connect with your body so that your sensations of pleasure reverberate as far as your awareness can reach?
Maria Borghoff is an artist, tantra yoga teacher, and curator at GROOVE Studio. She shares the secrets of sexual energy and the practice of harmonious living by helping students connect to their body’s innate wisdom through movement, nutrition and art-making. Learn more at mariaborghoff.com.