If you are dealing with a chronic sickness or acute disability you may think there’s nothing you can do to make yourself feel better or decrease your pain.
“Whatever happens,” the thought goes, “I’m still going to be sick.” Maybe that’s true. Counseling doesn’t necessarily cure physical diseases or decrease pain, but we know more and more how the brain and body interact and health in one area is beneficial to the other.
So if you are suffering from a physical ailment and seem to pooh-pooh the idea of trying out counseling, I’d challenge you to give it a try. How is therapy different than talking to someone you know? Or having a conversation that includes venting to a friend or complaining to your partner?
Well, first, I’m not even sure I’d call it a conversation. Therapy is a way to tune you into what you’re feeling—especially if you’re not aware of the full feeling (spoiler alert: we’re usually not)—and to help you express it. And there are people who come to me because of a strong feeling (like anger), OR because their partners tell them they’re not assertive enough, OR because they’re “passive aggressive” OR sarcastic—and they often end up finding out that they’re actually storing some of these feelings (resentment, sadness, fear, vulnerability) in their bodies in the form of backaches, headaches, stomach issues, and unexplained pain.
This is pain that may be decreased once you’re able to express what you’re holding in.
So think about it, and while you’re considering it, here are a few more ideas for decreasing your pain while managing with sadness and depression and chronic illness:
- Use social media for good, not evil: Connect with online communities in as positive a way as you can. Maybe you’ll find a group focused on your injury, or perhaps it’s a group that likes to talk about a particular show, movie, or book you like–join the conversation as unabashedly as you can. If you’re having trouble expressing how angry you are at the pain in your leg, maybe you can point it toward your favorite character or some really bad writing this week.
- Use technology for good: If you have video available, use it to connect with people who make you laugh. Whether friends, co-workers, or your nieces and nephews–Facetime them, Skype them–let yourself be seen.
- Be Direct: With both depression and physical illness, most people are really uncomfortable about not knowing how to relate to you. They’re afraid to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing. So help them out–let people know that you want them to drop by (if you do). Let them know that you’ve been really craving some good food–and someone to eat it with. Tell someone to bring over Settlers Of Catan and teach you how to play. If the idea of this is filling you with dread, start small: tell someone you’d welcome their company and that on Thursday you’re pretty open.
- See Your Therapist…virtually: More and more of us are providing an option to see clients online, and there’s a lot of good research saying that it’s effective. If you’re in therapy, talk to your therapist about it. Many counselors have started using this technology in response to clients who request it for these reasons. (If they’re hesitant, tell them to give me a call and I’ll walk them through how to get started). If you’re not currently in treatment, most of the directories use this as a search term when seeking a counselor. I have a part of my website that talks about Online Counseling and how it works.
The Second Arrow
There’s a Buddhist story I like to tell where a man is hit with an arrow. Not a few seconds later he’s hit with a second arrow in the same spot. The pain increases so much more after this second arrow. That second arrow can be the emotional pain that makes the physical injury so much worse. In a simplistic way, it’s what happens when we stub our toe in the middle of the night. We’re dealing with real pain. It hurts!
But add the part of you that’s cursing yourself out for leaving that thing on the floor–that makes it a whole lot worse. The blame, the anger, the shame, the fear, the loneliness, the whatever compounds against the part of us that simply pains in the first place. The pain is bad enough–why do we make it worse?
Let’s take a look at where your energy is going and if it’s being wasted on self-blame, pity, petty anger, or irritation you can learn to redirect it towards the honest-to-goodness physical healing you need to do. And that may mean that you need to connect with some self-compassion (which is different than self-pity!)
Originally published on Park Slope Therapist
Here are more ways to become a part of The Good Men Project community:
Request to join our private Facebook Group for Writers—it’s like our virtual newsroom where you connect with editors and other writers about issues and ideas.
Click here to become a Premium Member of The Good Men Project Community. Have access to these benefits:
- Get access to an exclusive “Members Only” Group on Facebook
- Join our Social Interest Groups—weekly calls about topics of interest in today’s world
- View the website with no ads
- Get free access to classes, workshops, and exclusive events
- Be invited to an exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” with other Premium Members
- Commenting badge.
Are you stuck on what to write? Sign up for our Writing Prompts emails, you’ll get ideas directly from our editors every Monday and Thursday. If you already have a final draft, then click below to send your post through our submission system.
If you are already working with an editor at GMP, please be sure to name that person. If you are not currently working with a GMP editor, one will be assigned to you.
Are you a first-time contributor to The Good Men Project? Submit here:
Have you contributed before and have a Submittable account? Use our Quick Submit link here:
Do you have previously published work that you would like to syndicate on The Good Men Project? Click here:
Join our exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” — where community members are encouraged to discuss the issues of the week, get story ideas, meet other members and get known for their ideas? To get the call-in information, either join as a member or wait until you get a post published with us. Here are some examples of what we talk about on the calls.
Want to learn practical skills about how to be a better Writer, Editor or Platform Builder? Want to be a Rising Star in Media? Want to learn how to Create Social Change? We have classes in all of those areas.
While you’re at it, get connected with our social media:
However, you engage with The Good Men Project—you can help lead this conversation about the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Join us!
Do you want to talk about how to have richer, more mindful, and enduring relationships?
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
Photo credit: Shutterstock ID 304486634