How Well Do You Tolerate Pain?

bandaidI have a high tolerance for pain. I’ve always been proud of my ability to plow through discomfort in order to get a job done. It makes me feel “tough” and “independent.” It’s also frequently required of a mother. We all know that the world doesn’t stop when we get sick or injured. We must still get our kids to school, prepare meals and do laundry.

However, my resolute “toughness” was recently called into question. My back gives me trouble now and then. At its worst I am unable to move without significant pain. Other times it is a nagging jab that restricts my movement but is tolerable. I was chatting with a friend a while ago and mentioned that my back had been bothering me for a few days. She suggested I see someone about it.
“Oh, no.” I replied. “It’s not that bad. I can still walk.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone. Then with a hint of sarcasm in her voice she said “Yes Carrie. You should definitely wait until you can’t walk before you do something about it.”
Hmmm. At what point does strength and self-reliance become just plain stubbornness? You see, pain exists for a reason. Pain is our body’s way of telling our brain to “make a change – and make it fast.” It lets us know that something is wrong. If we ignore it, bad things can happen.
Emotional pain works the same way. Chronic negative emotions, like anger, fear and sadness, are symptoms that something is amiss. We can think of them as a “check engine” light that lets us know it’s time for a “tune-up.” And, just like ignoring physical pain can lead to more serious physical problems, ignoring emotional pain can also lead to bigger concerns.
So, what about you? Do you need a tune-up to keep things running smoothly in your life? Don’t ignore the problems and “tough it out.” Make your well-being a priority now and avoid bigger issues down the road.

 

First Published 2010

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