Discomfort and pain are things most people do not like to experience and, to a certain extent, because of this, we have many problems in life. Pain and discomfort are ways of the body to let us know that something is wrong. We should be very thankful for this mechanism. Imagine us not experiencing pain when our hand is on fire.
Some people, who experience much pain and discomfort, adopt another irrational rule of living.
I shouldn’t have to feel discomfort and pain. I can’t stand them and must avoid them at all costs
Here are some results of this rule:
- Taking medication for every small discomfort
- Not going to work because of minor cold
- Not sending the kids to school if they express discomfort
- Hysteric reaction to seeing blood
- Avoiding painful treatment, like dental work or surgery
- Depression – overreacting to things that do not function according to expectations
- Overeating to avoid the discomfort of hunger
- Smoking to avoid the discomfort of Nicotine withdrawal
- Drinking alcohol to avoid sadness or anger
- Using drugs to avoid overwhelm or feeling of failure
Don’t kill the messenger
One of my friends, Sharona, who introduced me to healthy eating and healthy lifestyle, said to me that when we get rid of pain, it is like cutting the cord of the warning bell.
I have kept this image in my mind for years. My body has guards all over. Whenever something is wrong or about to go wrong, they ring a bell, as hard as they can.
Every time I feel discomfort, I tell myself, “If my body is telling me I am dehydrated through headache, I should listen and drink, instead of taking a painkiller”. In other words, “Don’t kill the messenger”.
[By the way, my Reiki teacher told us that 90% of people’s health problems are caused by dehydration. Painkillers are no substitute for enough fluid – drink water!]
As I said before, the more pain we feel, the more we will try to avoid it.
When we lived in Thailand, Gal a pocket book, “The Path of Insight Meditation“. In this book, the authors write that many of our feelings are forms of fear and if we want to get over our fears, we should go through the full experience of hunger, fatigue, anxiety, discomfort and even pain. Gal did that for a while and completely changed the way he behaved when he was hungry by meditating through his hunger.
You can think feeling hungry like a small panic attack, “I’m hungry, I must eat something right NOW or I’ll starve!” Many people think they will not be able to handle being hungry, when in fact, if they stay in that feeling for a while, it will go away without eating.
Try this. When you feel discomfort or pain, concentrate on the pain for a while, and visualize your body sending armies of defense troops to heal the place. Slowly, the pain will lessen. This is called “meditation”. Keep practicing it – the results are magical.
Helping kids handle pain
When children feel pain, we can make it easier for them by helping them treat it as a warning bell rather than punishment. Here is a list of things you can do to help kids handle pain and discomfort:
- Teach your kids to have goals and go persistently towards their goals. People with targets handle pain and discomfort much better. They keep focus on the goal and do not make a big fuss of obstacles. Remember, they do not have to be grownups to talk about goals. Even a 4-year-old can understand what a goal is.
- Work on yourself. Kids are mirrors, so if their parents have this rule, they will more likely adopt it too. Be a role model to your kids.
- Whenever your kids have a cut and see blood, let them know that the body is sending small soldiers to close the wound. Say, “Let’s see how fast they put this glue that stops the blood from running and stops dirt from coming in”. This will divert their attention from the hysteric reaction to the blood into trusting the body to protect them.
- Kids often want something to eat just before it is time for a meal. When they say they are hungry, talk to them while you prepare the food, remembering to stay calm, and help them overcome their feeling of hunger. Send messages like, “It is good you are listening to your body when it tells you to eat, but we all want to eat together and have some family time over dinner”. Offer them a drink of water if they struggle, but know that over time, they will learn to work through the fear and urgency in their hunger when they need to.
- When your kids fall down, hug them, give them a kiss and encourage them to keep doing what they were doing before. Do not add any more pain by saying, “I told you…” Reassure them they are fine and tell them to climb the bike/skateboard/slide again.
- When your kids have physical discomfort, try drinking water, sleeping, meditating or doing something fun before you choose to medicate them. Long term, medication is poison. Keep it for really urgent matters and let a doctor decide when they are necessary and what to use.
- When your kids need medication, do not choose the nicely flavored option. Medication is not a treat. It is not supposed to be fun and enjoyable. You do not want your kids to think that medication is the solution to all their problems. When they say, “It’s yucky”, remind them that being sick is not fun and that medications are not supposed to be tasty – they are supposed to help their body help itself.
- When talking to kids about addictions, explain to them that the temporary relief of the pain or discomfort does not really make them disappear. Tell them it is still there, under the surface. If you had a fight with a friend, chocolate may help your feel better for 20 minutes, but the uncomfortable feeling will pop up immediately after the effect of the chocolate disappears. The bad news is that it will pop up a bit stronger. This is why addictions are hard – the addicted will look for more and more to ease what seems like more and more pain.
- One of the things I was told as a child when a part of my body hurt was “If it didn’t hurt from time to time, you wouldn’t know it’s there and you wouldn’t appreciate having it”. Compare a scratch on the arm to having no arm and put your kids’ discomfort in perspective for them.
I always say that avoiding pain at all cost would kill humanity. Imagine what would happen if all the mothers, after experiencing pain with the birth of their first child, decided not to bring any more kids into the world in order to avoid pain…
Without darkness, there can be no light
Thank you for reading the 12 irrational rules of living. I hope it has given you some insight into the human behavior and tips and understanding of what you can do as a parent to instill good rules in your kids’ mindset and attitude towards life.
This post is part of the series Irrational Rules of Living:
- Irrational Rules of Living – External Approval
- Irrational Rules of Living – Self Worth
- Irrational Rules of Living – Problem Solving
- Irrational Rules of Living – Right and Wrong
- Irrational Rules of Living – My Way or the Highway
- Irrational Rules of Living – Disempowerment
- Irrational Rules of Living – Anxiety
- Irrational Rules of Living – Avoidance
- Irrational Rules of Living – Dependency
- Irrational Rules of Living – The Power of the Past
- Irrational Rules of Living – Sympathy
- Irrational Rules of Living – Discomfort and pain