A couple of days ago my oldest son cut his back while playing outside. It seemed deep enough to warrant the cut being cleaned out and a band aide. Now, my son doesn’t deal too well with the thought of pain. He freaks out if he knows pain might be coming. He asked if it would hurt when I cleaned it. I told him that it was only water but that it might hurt a little. He started to freak out and kept on saying, “This is going to hurt. This is going to hurt.” This seemed like an opportune time for some wisdom. I said to him, “Don’t feel the pain before it happens. Maybe instead of telling yourself how much this is going to hurt, you should tell yourself that you can do this.” He started repeating, “I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.” After we had finished he told me that it didn’t hurt at all. Funny how that goes. He built up the pain in his head for no reason.
How many times do we feel the pain before it happens?
It’s not just physical pain, but emotional pain as well. Have you ever just kept on telling yourself something bad is going to happen in a relationship? Have you ever preemptively pushed someone away because you believed they were going to hurt you? Or, pushed someone away because you believed you were going to hurt them? Have you ever avoided potential conflict because you rehearsed how bad it could go? Have you ever not enjoyed a moment because you didn’t want to be disappointed later? Are you always waiting for the other shoe to drop?
I believe this is a way of feeling pain before it happens.
Brené Brown in her book, Daring Greatly, writes, ““We’re trying to beat vulnerability to the punch. We don’t want to be blindsided by hurt. We don’t want to be caught off guard, so we literally practice being devastated or never move from self-elected disappointment.”
So, while I try to pass wisdom to my children, I have to remember to listen myself.