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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Don't insult the Council if you feel untrustworthy

Defang emotional pain without attacking others

“. . . Reactions always have to do with our own self-judgments and feelings of inadequacy or strength, not the other person.”  –Jarl Forsman.*

Boy, those people must be hurting a lot to hate so much.” The out-of-town visitor, a medical professional, saw what many of us in Costa Mesa have missed: the haters are probably in pain.

When people feel emotional pain, the same areas of the brain get activated as when people feel physical pain: the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex. Pain motivates the individual to withdraw from damaging situations.

All kinds of hurt

Common emotional pain includes feeling: insulted, disparaged, disrespected; distrusted, dishonorable or cowardly; embarrassed or humiliated; and weak, helpless, or defenseless

Common reactions to emotional pain are withdrawal, attacking those who hurt us, and attacking targets that didn't hurt us but are prominent and safe to attack. (This is not possible in some parts of the world, though.)

Blaming, projecting feelings onto others and flaming insults at people we hardly know can alleviate pain temporarily, although they are generally useless techniques for changing others’ beliefs. They don't stem the pain long term, either. And, there are much better ways to deal with emotional pain.

Acceptance may reduce discomfort

“Attempting to suppress emotional pain may paradoxically increase it. In contrast, being accepting of pain, being willing to experience it  . . .  has actually been found to decrease it.”
“But such a decrease is only a happy byproduct, for the true purpose of acceptance isn't to diminish pain but rather to become more comfortable feeling it. . . This helps us with the real goal of acceptance: preventing those phenomena from interfering with the achievement of our goals.
For acceptance doesn't mean allowing our problems to go unchallenged; it means accepting the painful thoughts and feelings that invariably arise when problems occur so that they don’t stop us from trying to solve them.”
“This is something everyone who’s ever succeeded in a large way on a public stage knows: you don’t achieve your goals by avoiding pain; you achieve them by being better than everyone else at enduring it.”

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has been successful with many patients. You don’t have to see a therapist trained in ACT to make use of its principles. (There are some good references at the end of the article at: ACT Article

Don't hate, solve your personal problem

Dealing with the personal pain from feeling rejected or discounted can be difficult. Good treatment could involve counseling, sometimes self-help, or even medication (such as when the feelings result from chemical imbalances, depression or chronic anxiety).

Attacking prominent people might provide temporary relief. Insults and innuendo about others may temporarily build self-esteem back up, especially if a bunch of similarly-challenged folks reiterate the nonsense. 

But hating people and attacking them doesn't solve the haters’ personal problems. Hating and insulting don’t alleviate pain; they just make the haters look uninformed and stupid.
And feeling uninformed and stupid may have caused their pain in the first place.


  1. Good insights. I hope those in pain get relief ... outside venting for 3 minutes at the podium for council meetings.

    When I see these individuals, I think, what have they actually accomplished? I get that many have protested since the Viet Nam War, but I can't figure out what so many have actually accomplished? Outside of trying to stop change.

    Speaking of Wars, I find many on the wrong side of issues. Mother Theresa said to invite her to a peace march but would not go to an anti war demonstration. Same issue, different side.

    I try to choose the peace march

  2. Thanks Jim. I think that activists who try to improve a situation have a lot more credibility than agitators who try to inflame emotions and provoke the gullible.