Barinov Design
Visual Identity Design // Paris, France

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Guest Post: ARE YOU NUMBING YOUR PAIN OR SOMETHING ELSE?

You walked. You tripped. You got a boo-boo. You took a pill to numb the pain. 

That’s pretty much what any average person does when there is some kind of friction present in his life. And... since that friction is actually always present in one’s life, the process of numbing oneself becomes an ongoing thing.

At one point in my life, I was really good at it, a so-called professional “numb-er”. I took it seriously and used all my creativity to expand the numbing techniques starting with food and ending with people (using people was definitely not a good idea!). Turns out, what became my full time job of denying all negative feelings, wasn’t the dream job I had hoped for. It was quite the opposite. I would even say it was worse than a nightmare, although it did serve the purpose of clearly differentiating the experience of living vs existing. 

I realized that it’s much better to be in pain and feel alive than to not feel anything at all. If you’re in pain right now then GOOD! You are doing a great job, keep at it. 

I saw this quote on my Facebook feed (sometimes those quotes are indeed helpful) by Brene Brown saying: “We can’t selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light”. It hit me like a lightning: “Now I know why pistachio ice cream doesn’t taste as good anymore or swimming in the ocean is rather bothersome than enjoyable. It’s because that numbing technique I invented, proved to be very successful! 

In other words, I realized that the capacity to experience joy is equal to the capacity to handle pain. It’s all the same energy (you), manifesting itself differently according to the circumstances. Like water, when it’s below 0.00 °C it becomes ice, in room temperature it is a liquid and when it’s above 100.00 °C it starts to vaporise. So now whenever I feel discord in my body, emotions or mental activity, instead of thinking what pill I should take, I ask myself: “Hmmm, what is that part of me trying to communicate to me? Should I change the way I live? Should I change the angle of my perception? Should I... What should I change?”

My discoveries did not end there. I also realized that the best way to release any pain is to completely take it in and feel it with every fiber of your being. Once you do it, the pain for some reason disappears or turns into something enjoyable (there is a point to masochism after all) or reveals something about you that you never knew existed. Yes, that thing that has been bothering you for quite some time could be the best thing that ever happened to you because it might just change your life for the better. (I am not talking about the pain that needs immediate medical intervention.) But it totally works on headaches!

A couple of days ago, I woke up with a bad one. It was pretty bearable except for those moments when it randomly started pulsating, as if there were seven dwarfs mining for gold in the left part of my head. I tried several yogic techniques to relieve the pain but nothing worked. I somehow survived that day. The next day though, the headache intensified even more, the dwarfs in my head were, apparently, determined to find diamonds. Deep down I knew, it was probably going to take a few more days until they finished their work, so I was like: “That’s it! I am getting an Advil”. As I was slowly pushing my cart through a supermarket, looking for the pharmacy aisle, it happened! Those nasty dwarfs decided to blow up my brain and suddenly it dawned on me that I don’t practice what I preach. All I needed was to do my thing. So I stopped the cart, focused all my attention on the pain and said: “Bring it on!” It felt as if someone put a nail in my head, then that sensation quickly dissolved. I waited for a little while, thinking: “Is that all you got?”. And when I didn’t receive any response, I resumed my shopping,  thinking: “If you ever come back, I’ll kill ya!” The headache never came back. True story.