We're all uncomfortable at times. Here are 5 ways to get through pain. Whether it’s emotional, spiritual or physical there are valuable lessons to be learned when pain comes knocking. Although I learned these lessons while running, keep reading as I describe how they became all too real in a particularly difficult situation with my dad.
It’s Only Discomfort
The morning was beautiful. It was cool and the overcast sky blanketed the trees with a deep green glow. My first few miles running were spent with a good friend who kept both the conversation and pace going. Later, however, I began to feel pain. It’s only discomfort, I told myself.
As the pain began to settle in, I learned some valuable lessons.
1. Focus in - It helped when I narrowed my thoughts to the current moment. No thinking about the miles behind me or the miles I had yet to run. I focused only on that I was running in that moment.
Life Application – Focus on the present moment. Don’t project conclusions into the future. Don’t make up stories. Take the facts for what they are.
2. Use What You Can to Ease the Pain - I ate GU with 2 miles to go. GU is a supplement of amino acids used to reduce mental fatigue and decrease muscle damage. Boy did it help!
Life Application – Is there a friend to help you ease the pain or listen to your troubles? Do you have a family member or friend who will stroke your hair or rub your back when you're ill? As you face difficulties, do you have a spiritual partner that will pray for you so you’re not alone? Take advantage of whatever you can to ease the pain. What's your GU?
3. Allow Perception to Trump Reality - My legs hurt, no doubt, but they didn’t really hurt that bad. I began to focus on how good they felt. My breathing was even and there was no tension in my upper body. That overshadowed the pain in my legs.
Life Application - How are you looking at your situation? How could you perceive the facts of the situation in another way to focus on the good?
4. Be grateful - I was so grateful for the day. My stomach was feeling good, the weather was perfect, and I had the strength to run the miles. Gratefulness has many health benefits.
Life Application - There are so many things to be grateful for. It isn’t natural for me to see these things so it'll take some practice.
5. Pain is a good teacher - We learn when we are uncomfortable. The biggest life lessons I have learned came from struggles.
Life Application - The trick is to tune into those lessons and move on with them as a weapon in your arsenal instead of dragging them around like an anchor tied to your ankle. Allow pain to teach her lessons instead of focusing on the hurt that was necessary.
. . . and then a funny thing happened
Right after I wrote this blog, I got into a difficult and awkward situation. I panicked and didn’t handle it well. Tears swelled up and self-doubt creeped in. I couldn’t recall what I had just written.
Let me back up for a second. I often say, I’m an accountant, which announces to the world that I’ll organize and document anything you want but don’t ask me to act as a nurse, chef or warm fuzzy hostess.
My dad has recently suffered several small strokes and his normally sharp and witty personality has transitioned to a confused yet happy soul. The catheter hung from his body without being taped to his leg for support. Urine was leaking out of the bag. Panic chased away my clear thinking. Under the bright lights of the bathroom, I scrambled for my cell phone and called my sister – no answer. I called the caregiver – wrong number. I called my other sister – Eureka!
Focus In - The first thing that needed to be taken care of was to tape the catheter to secure it to his leg. This meant I had to leave the urine on the floor and step over it the best I could. I also had to be firm yet gentle. No Dad, don’t touch anything. I’ll take care of this.
Use What You Can to Ease the Pain – My sister was available even though she was on vacation (thanks, Mary Lou!). She was very comforting and walked me through the process calmly.
Let Perception Trump Reality - I let my perception of the situation get totally out of hand. This was awkward and I didn’t want to do it. I felt sorry for myself and struggled to maintain my composure. Once my dad was back in bed, I started to cry as I cleaned up the bathroom. I didn’t refocus my perception to trump reality. My self-indulgent tears came so easily.
Be Grateful - This is something that I didn’t do at all. Be grateful? I’ll need to practice this daily so it becomes a habit that I can use during the inevitable difficult times.
Pain is a good teacher - What was the lesson here? My dad was unconcerned with how awkward this was. His thinking was disconnected which is so sad to see. He needed help and I learned I was able to give it whether I wanted to or not.
Discomfort will come, how will you handle it?