Monday, January 31, 2011

Feeling Good

Humans like to feel good. This basic drive causes us to make money, spend money, develop friendships, marry, have children, listen to music, create art, and a myriad of other activities that bring satisfaction.

In this fallen world, the craving to feel good also leads us down some very destructive alleys which initially feel good and ultimately feel horribly bad. This in turn creates a vicious cycle in which we choose increasingly more dangerous alleys in search of, you guessed it, feeling better about how the last thing we reached for didn't make us feel better.

I'm not trying to be simplistic, I've just been made startlingly aware of how many times during the day my mood spikes and plummets, and what I choose to do about it. Food, my spouse's approval, shopping for something new are all my drugs of choice. Sometimes, not often enough, I just live in the moment and thank God that He knows what He's doing. Of course I ask for help too, but no matter how good I feel in one moment, the hunger to feel good again is always lurking around the corner.

Realizing our motivations, and telling ourselves the truth about them., and perhaps confiding in someone else is tremendously healing in and of itself. It even can make us feel better about why we did what we did to make ourselves feel good.

Being able to withstand emotional pain is a skill reserved for maturity, but none of us ever escape the need to have positive feelings. The next time you find yourself feeling bad and reaching for a cure, allow yourself the full weight of the emotion. Don't do anything, just experience it. I feel a little like a LaMaze instructor here, but feeling pain is not the end of the world, it just feels like it.

What kinds of things do you reach for to feel better? How has emotional pain helped you to mature? I'd love to hear your thoughts.