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Which is worse: The anticipation of pain, or the pain itself?

Which is worse: The anticipation of pain, or the pain itself?  Puzzled

Pain comes in many forms, but the worst is the pain of anticipating the actual physical and mental pain. This is especially true for any future pain that is coming your way because there is enough time for your brain to think about what is going on. For all emergency situations there is the ancient part of the brain that protects us with the tried and true fight, flight, or flee modes. Just waiting for the pain to come around can be extremely dreadful inflicting even more pain than there needs to be.

What can you do to deal with this situation a little bit better? Instead of using your intellect to labor over what could be, use it to think about coping strategies instead. The following list has a few of them in stow for you; please remember to share this post with friends and family who could benefit from a little shot in the arm, pun intended:

  1. You face a fierce and difficult telephone call. First gather all the facts you need to have a educated conversation. Plan out the goal and the best and the worst outcome of the conversation. Take a deep breath before you make the call and for really difficult cases get out of your seat and keep standing while you speak. Introduce your plan and then let the counterpart state their case. Go from there. Stay on the phone unless the conversation is about who you are instead of what you do. Ask for a time out then and make sure to reconvene.
  2. You face a difficult one-on-one conversation. This is the same as 1. with the caveat that you may want to meet in a neutral place. Think about your own safety too and make sure you can get out of the room really quick if need be. Make sure you make good eye contact and that your posture and gestures convey that your intentions are sincere and genuine.
  3. You face a difficult doctors visit. This is one of the few times when Googling whatever concerns you may not be the best first step. Ask yourself how much you trust your doctor. If you trust her, mentally prepare for the worst, but expect the best outcome.
  4. You face an operation. This is a tough one, but the same mental jogging and preparation needs to take place here too. Share your thoughts with friends and family as well as your medical support team. Do it often and consistently. The more you verbalize your thoughts and intentions, the faster you will get over the fear of what will happen to you.

Disclaimer: Whatever you choose please realize that these are YOUR choices not mine. My thoughts are a mere guide, but YOU are responsible for anything you choose to do. When in doubt contact your health care or emergency care provider.

The common denominator with pain is that the actual painful part is usually really brief. Once you are engaged in the painful conversation, operation, etc. typically you will start to feel better because there is help on the way or the conversation is bearing fruit. This is not unlike climbing a mountain where the uphill part is the rising fear of anticipating the dreadful act. The top of the hill is the time that your intellect takes control of the situation. Take comfort in the fact that the downhill part is surely coming as things start to look up.

There may be smaller or bigger uphill portions to come in the middle of your journey, just like a roller coaster, but there is always another nice downhill part coming for you. Bigger question is when that will happen. Good thing is that we do not know what the future brings so do not be afraid of the things that have not even happened yet.


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