People Prefer Electrical Shock to Feelings
People are so afraid of being alone with their thoughts and feelings that they rather give themselves electrical shock to distract themselves. Time to come back to you!
Some years ago, I attended a talk by Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and author of the book Thrive, which was at its peak back then. Huffington talked about the fact that so many of us are so busy achieving that we don’t thrive. Since then, it appears that this is still one of the epidemic of our times. To succeed but not really thrive.
One of the reasons is that we are afraid of feeling our feelings. Instead we make ourselves so busy that we are completely disconnected from who we really are. And if we go hard enough, long enough we all of a sudden hit a wall, and end up taking a nasty fall and face a hard road to recovery.
And Huffington speaks from experience. She was so busy achieving that it wasn’t until she lay face down in a pool of blood and with a fractured cheekbone she realized she hadn’t been thriving. She was successful and rich, but not leading a successful life. And she passed out because of it.
We run because we are afraid
According to a study cited by Huffington, one of they biggest reasons why so many end up at that infamous wall, is that they are afraid of being alone with their thoughts. We are actually afraid of ourselves! In the study, published in the Journal of Science, 67% of men rather give themselves electrical shock than sit alone with their thoughts in an empty room for 15 minutes. One guy even shocked himself 190 times to distract himself. For women the number was lower – 25%. And people rather do really boring, mundane tasks than being alone with their thoughts.
Our feelings trigger old limiting thoughts. Or our thoughts trigger feelings that we might not want to deal with. And when the thoughts we have are negative, focusing on shortcomings or problems that we rather not think of, it can feel overwhelming and exhausting. One might realize unpleasant things that require difficult choices and action. Or the quietness lets us feel how we are not really at peace with ourselves or our lives.
And if we don’t know how to deal with ourselves or transform the challenges we experience, we get discouraged. So we welcome the distractions. And as Huffington also speaks of in her book Thrive, we seek out any distractions that can help us seek out the only metrics of success ‘and well being’ that we know and value. Power and money.
And many get there, but with burnout(s) as a faithful partner. It shows up as stress, sleep deprivation, collapsing, unidentified unhappiness, lack of clarity, struggling in life, divorce, and unfulfilling relationships, feelings of loneliness, physical illness.
We achieve, but are not truly happy, and we don’t know exactly why or what to do about it because we have not trained ourselves. We are taught how to achieve and how important it is. But we are not taught to thrive and take care of ourselves while doing it.
And you miss out. You are missing out on better decision-making, experiencing more resilience, less discouragement, the ability to put things in perspective, more meaningful relationships, discerning between the important and the urgent, tapping into sources of inner wisdom you didn’t know you had. Knowing the value of your own company and experiencing true meaning instead of ‘stuffing’.
One of the key elements to thriving is taking time out to be alone, to be at peace and slow down our thoughts. You can start exercising this ability by doing meditation practices, breathing exercises, journaling. Go for a walk. Or start by ‘distracting’ yourself with a book that encourages you to think about who you are, and what it is that you are spending your energy on. The important thing is that you let the deeper experiences emerge from your consciousness.
Many people mediate without actually feeling any of the things they don't want to feel. So the purpose is not to escape, but to get closer and deeper into who you are.
Because it is possible to create amazing results and reach our goals without sacrificing ourselves. It does require us to know ourselves really well, it does require us to spot the limiting beliefs and conditioning that we have accepted as true. It requires us to BE more and DO less. To achieve through our BEING - not constantly doing.
Do less through being more. Then thriving comes into place.
And when you get there, it will be in a more happy and sustainable way, and maybe even more successful because you have harvested all the valuable information and power there is in really knowing yourself. What Arianna learned is, that achieving has no real value if you are not thriving. We can learn it the hard way or the easy way.
Sources: Talk by Arianna Huffington
Thrive: The third metric to redefining success and creating a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder by Arianna Huffington