There’s a life-threatening condition that prevents people from feeling pain. An afflicted person may leave their hand on a hot stove without realizing it. There are only 20 reported cases, because the genes responsible have been weeded out by evolution. Pain is adaptive.
Like a tea kettle whistling louder and louder, pain implores action — move your hand! In more complex cases, pain’s message and origin may be less evident, but equally important to understand. Although you may take aspirin to relieve daily headaches, it’s vital to determine the symptom’s cause.
The same is true for emotional pain. Sometimes it’s easy to understand and alleviate an unpleasant emotion. Perhaps you feel afraid walking alone on a deserted street, and fear is telling you to take a different route. Other times, emotional pain is more complex. We may find ourselves feeling sad every day and not know why.