Six Myths About Pain
When we lose someone, we really don’t know what we should do. This is because we are taught how to behave in specific situations from a very young age. We were taught how to get things, how to speak…but no one taught us what we should do when someone we care about leaves us and we become completely overcome by pain.
Here we explore six inaccurate beliefs that society, as well as our families have deeply instilled in us for coping with pain. Do any of these sound familiar?
Do not confuse suffering with love, nor overcome pain by forgetting…
– Margarita Rojas-
1. Get over someone by dating someone else
We should never, EVER try to replace something that meant so much to us. Although another relationship or partner will eventually come along, it will never be the same. Why try to escape from our pain? Are we so weak that we aren’t able to deal with it?
2. If you suffer, you suffer alone
When someone cries, they are left alone and when we are suffering, we want to be on our own; this is what we have been taught. You should never cry in public, repress your feelings!
When experiencing pain, if we want to cry we do it in a private place. Showing our emotions publicly is shameful. Sadness doesn’t invite company the way that happiness does. The effect of all this is that we are conditioned to believe that sadness is not a good emotion. However, in reality, it’s only considered “bad” by those who are made uncomfortable by someone else’s sadness. For the rest of us, it’s just an emotion like any other that is impossible to avoid.
3. Time heals all wounds
This is another common saying and it suggests that everything will be forgotten with the passing of time and that the pain will disappear. In truth, that depends on the person who left and what they meant to you.
The idea that “time heals all” has some truth, since, in most cases, after some time, we are no longer as sad as we were when the pain was fresh. However, this does not mean that we have been “healed.” A mother whose son has died will probably never be able to heal the pain that her loss has caused. Years and years can pass without the pain ever fully disappearing or being able to completely recover. For this reason, it’s more accurate to say that, with time, we learn to live with the pain.
4. You will feel better in a week
Does pain really go away within a specific timeframe? Pain is personal. For some, it may last only a week, for others, months and others, even years. Playing it down and saying that it will go away in a specific amount of time is insensitive and can cause additional hurt to those who are suffering.
We don’t forget that we have lost someone. The amount of time it takes will depend on the individual. We are not going to get over the pain when we want to, we will get over it when we are ready to.
5. You just need to distract yourself
Distractions will soothe and cure us, according to popular belief….wrong! Being busy doesn’t distract us anymore than it can heal our wounds. Our emotions cannot be fooled. We can postpone our pain, but we can’t get rid of it. Sooner or later it will return and, often, with much more force.
Accept your pain, let it flow. Don’t try to distract yourself from your feelings. Accept it, feel it and come to terms with it. You can’t reject something that is natural and inevitably must pass. Although you may not want it, although you may rebel against it and although you may ignore it, the pain will still continue on.
6. Be strong!
We often feel we need to hold on and be strong after a loss so that we don’t completely break down. In reality, those who follow these principles are, in many cases, the first to breakdown. Why? Because they keep the pain inside. The put on a strong front while inside they are hurting.
Loss causes weakness that can be frightening. We often try to hide it so that people don’t notice. Why aren’t we able to show our weaknesses? Why do we put up a strong front that we actually don’t have? We aren’t made of stone! We feel, we worry, and we suffer. We are better off leaving false appearances behind.
Many of us are profoundly influenced by these six societal beliefs about pain. Were you able to identify with any of them? Have you ever felt the need to avoid your feelings, distract yourself from your pain, try to be strong when really you’re feeling weak? We need to come to terms with our pain and avoid these beliefs that actually make us more vulnerable. Pain doesn’t weaken us, it makes us aware of what we care about most.