Making the Shift - Pain versus Pleasure

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Goodness me, this post from Michele Rosenthal at Heal My PTSD could have been written for me.  One of the biggest challenges of my entire life is about this ~ about getting past pain and allowing myself to experience pleasure.

This seems to be a rather common occurrence among some of us - we do not feel that we are allowed somehow to experience pleasure.  And by pleasure I don't mean flopping ourselves in front of the TV.  I mean doing those things that really bring us joy in some way.  Why is it so?  Don't we all experience suffering in some form?  If the answer is yes - and it's always yes; even charmed lives have their share of suffering - then why do we not comfort ourselves with pleasure?  Where does this puritanical tiresomeness come from?

I have a friend who does not seem to have this battle as much as I do.  She allows herself to experience pleasure whenever she wants, and her life, as a result, even though filled with suffering, also has a certain kind of ease that is awfully attractive, not least because I feel like my life does not have that ease. And it seems to come easy to her, but when I talk to her about it, really, what the difference is between she and I is that she has the same sorts of thoughts and feelings I have around letting go and doing things that give us pleasure.  It's just that she ignores those thoughts when they come, whereas I treat them as if they are some great god thundering from a mountain.


I think, if I am really very honest, that so many of my struggles to sit down and write - and pretty much all of my struggles to sit down and play with clay - are because somewhere in my mind, and somewhere very obviously in my culture, I don't feel like I am allowed to do these things. I'm not allowed to do them because I enjoy them too much, and because I'm not working enough, and until I spend enough time each week working at a stultifying soul-destroying job in some capacity, I have not earned the right to do those things.  Because everyone knows you have to eat your meat before you have your pudding.  How can you have any pudding if you haven't eaten your meat?

What would happen if what the world needs most was a whole bunch of people all eating their pudding at once?

That walk from the TV to the clay, from the TV to the computer to sit down and waste time writing stuff - or whatever your personal bliss is that you don't feel you have the time for - is the single most challenging and enlightening walk that you can take.  One of the most important ones, but the absolutely hardest one because it is a walk you need to take alone while the internal voices shouting that you don't have time and haven't earned this are completely meshed with the outside societal voices that are in total agreement.  And too often we listen to those voices.
How very strange, to be in a situation where the most courageous acts I can do are to do things that bring me intense pleasure.  How very, very strange.

But not uncommon at all, I don't think.  When life is pulling us in directions that distress and/or depress us, our first instinct is to try harder.  When in fact, what we really need to do to rest, and recuperate, and recreate ~ in the very best sense of that word, re-create ~ is to stop trying so hard, let loose, loosen our hair, take off our glasses, pick up that guitar, have a shag, listen inside for some whispered secrets that may well surprise us about what we really want to do that would give us joy, because even though L'Oreal has co-opted the saying, we really are very much worth it.

Let us all eat pudding.

Pic by Ucumari (under a creative commons attribution/no derivs/noncommerical licence)


  1. Well, I think you got that sussed, Sue. Great writing from a great heart. Go with the pudding:)

    1. Thank you, Harry - you too :) I will try!

    2. I always make a point of having pudding, Sue. I feel I need to set an example. But when we come down to it, pudding is simply what we are, rather than something to attempt. But then you know that;)

  2. My old art lecturer called it the colonialist attitude of 'new' cultures. You aren't worth anything unless you are toting that bale or cutting down that tree. He said when you look at older cultures, you won't see that. If you make art or music, or write, that is valued as a job. You won't find people in those countries making sure they do some hard labour first to earn the right to be creative. :)

    1. I've been daydreaming hard lately about moving to an older culture. It is becoming increasingly stifling living in this country. Or at least that's how it feels to me. We are unbelievably stupid, we let the biggest bullies in the schoolyard determine our sovereignty.

      Costa Rica looks good. Wanna come? :P


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