Seaman's Log

Big Ideas & Deep Thoughts

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Four Faces of Pain

There are many different types of pain that we experience, but as I've thought about this, they can all be grouped into four main clusters. The many nuances of pain can be represented by the larger emotion. I believe, based on what I've read, that these four emotions are represented by specific chemical response patterns in the brain.

  • Anger happens when I do not get my way - when someone or something is believed to be blocking an important goal. This makes me ready to fight.
  • Fear happens when I believe that something bad is about the happen. This make me ready to run.
  • Sadness is my response to painful circumstances or memories. This causes me to lose energy and resign myself the the inevitable.
  • Shame this is the feeling of rejection and social isolation that I feel. This causes me to disconnect from others.

Many painful circumstances trigger all four of the faces of pain. When thinking about pain, it is helpful to examine each of type independently. Understanding my response to the situation can give clues into possible actions I can take to find a remedy.


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