seeking pleasure avoiding pain|Our behaviors are coping mechanisms. Seeking pleasure or avoiding pain require life-long choices towards harmful or healthy behaviors. | photo courtesy@tangojuliette

Seeking Pleasure or Avoiding Pain


The influence of our senses supports our need to cope and celebrate life. We don’t need a doctor to prescribe certain sensations. What’s needed is simply observing our behaviors when seeking pleasure or avoiding pain.

Through childhood I walked hard and loudly. I sucked my thumb while twirling my hair.  Comfort equated to being tucked in tightly or to be nestled up in a corner. I loved forts. On the swings or playground bar I hung upside down. I excelled in sports requiring heavy muscle pressure like softball, volleyball, and soccer.

All those pleasure-seeking sensations were coping strategies to manage feelings that I was told by my elders were bad. Each was a simply way to respond to what most wouldn’t classify as dangerous. Although, my nervous system recognized them as such.

Occupational therapists categorize the behaviors I deferred to as sensory seeking. Non-age specific seeking behaviors include: repetitiveness, cravings, pressured touch (e.g. tight-fitting clothing), heavy muscle activity, mouthing (e.g. lip or tongue obsessiveness), sucking, biting, jaw clenching, and a self-abusive nature.

After I quit smoking in my early thirties, my patterns changed. At first I was avoiding pain through what occupational therapists refer to as avoidance of sensations. Events, environments, or even social interactions were activities I slowly withdrew from.

Other sensory seeking behaviors may include rigid routines, self-talk, aversive sensations. While I purged nicotine, a few obsessive-compulsive behaviors emerged in order to block out pleasure memories. When I failed at rigid routines I resorted to aversive sensations. Around this time I realized I suffered from anxiety.

Shame may come with sensory seeking behaviors. Feeling ashamed defies what the body is naturally seeking to cope.

While awareness set in of my behaviors so did the reality of the medical setbacks they would bring. Attention to sensitivities for action planning may improve health and well being. Our behaviors are coping mechanisms that guide us through minor to extreme life changes. Spending habits, conflict within work environments and the type of relationships we engage in mirror how we handle sensitivities.

Change is difficult, yet knowing your sensory-self softens life’s adversity with life-giving behaviors.

GIG Design | Emotional Lifestyle

DESIGN^sensory craving | little stimulation for better rest with consideration to achieve your best self if with an insatiable drive for enhanced sensory experiences

DESIGN^interceptive | walk a labyrinth to overcome negative, avoidant, aversive, or defensive behaviors from discriminative or evaluative sensitivities

DESIGN^joint and muscle | ping pong movements reduce negative, avoidant, aversive, or defensive behaviors through joint compression and muscle traction sensitivities