Monday, September 22, 2014

Got Pain? Put A Band-Aid On It!

I hate the saying “no pain no gain”.  I think it insinuates that it’s somehow noble to suffer through pain, or even worse, that seeking relief from pain is somehow a sign of weakness.   I've had people tell me, “Why should people get counseling because of this or that, part of life is experiencing pain”.  I hear “death and grief are just reality”, “life is meant to be stressful”, “everyone feels sad”, etc.  I want to challenge all those thoughts.  Yes, trials will arise, but accepting the pain and suffering through them doesn't have to be part of it.

As most of you know, I recently returned from a challenging hiking experience.  As someone who is not into physical challenges, it required a lot of pre-planning and training.  One thing I learned is that foot care is extremely important.  One little pebble that feels like a small nuisance can turn into a huge painful blister.  During the hike at nearly every stopping point, I’d take off my shoes and inspect my feet to make sure there were no signs of redness or rubbing.  If there was any sign of a problem, it was immediately addressed with ointment or blister protection Band-Aids.  The thought being, I’m going for endurance.   Yes, I could continue to ignore that little tender spot except in the long run that tender spot will bring me unnecessary pain.  Could I push through a blister?  Sure, but why endure that pain if there are ways to comfort it.

Will life present hardships?  Sure, I agree that part of the human experience is unexpected turns in the road, situations we didn't expect, losses that are painful.  What I challenge is the idea that when those hardships occur, we somehow benefit from “pushing through the pain”.  I challenge that a better approach would be to prepare for them, get support when they do occur, and use whatever skills or resources are available to you to ease the pain.   If you need some extra support or skills to help, that’s where counseling might come in.  I always say counseling is a sign of strength, not weakness.  It’s an aware person, one who is monitoring their own health and can identify what they need, that seeks counseling. 

Life is about endurance.  We want to enjoy the journey, not suffer through it.  So the next time I hear someone says “counseling is just a Band-Aid” – I’m going to take it as a compliment.  Anything that relieves or prevents pain can’t be all that bad.  Have a great week!