It is pretty obvious that we learn from emotional and physical pain. It is a great teacher.
However, I have to remind myself sometimes it teaches me the wrong lesson. That is to say, we learn to cope in positive ways and negative ways. We learn positive habits and negative habits. Often when we are learning to cope we are all on our own for the process so we do what works, so of course we sort of just figure it out as we go along. Sometimes I think the severity of the pain gets to us and then pain can just teach us some lessons that don’t do us any good in the long run, but they seem like the right lesson at the time.
I make a perfect example of what I want to demonstrate. When I leave the house I get a migraine. Or the migraine I have gets much more severe. Therefore I do not like to leave the house. Therefore I do not leave it often. Therefore I became a hermit. Pain taught me to Avoid. And avoidance is the one lesson we do not want to learn, even though it seems like that is exactly the lesson pain teaches us.
In general, I would say I do not avoid much of anything. I do a Lot with migraines. But give me the choice, and no, why would I do something with a migraine. It is very unpleasant. So things like socializing got cut out for necessary things like work. Yet this is not good coping I learned, much later, unfortunately. Because we need to socialize and have leisure time to have balance and it helps with our mental and emotional well-being. So well I didn’t avoid necessary things I cut out what I deemed unnecessary. And this, in the long run, made me feel worse. Isolated. Depressed. A hermit.
It felt like the right thing to do. Pain taught me I had limited pain tolerance and energy to go around. I needed to choose how to use it. I didn’t consider the value of what I was discarding. So I isolated myself which did me no good. I had to learn to slowly socialize again in small doses and in a way that was appropriate for my health.
I have other examples, but when it comes down to it, it is what is pain teaching you? How did you learn to cope? Was it a positive change to your life? Are you adapting well to your chronic condition? Is your mood also being maintained? Do you have negative coping strategies and if you do, do you think you could find a way to replace them with positive coping strategies?
Pain is a great teacher. Just remember sometimes it tells us to not do things. To stop. To avoid. When instead we should be looking at it more of how to plan, how to adapt and how to modify.
Just something I was thinking about today with this whopping migraine.