Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Pain Scale

Have you ever felt like you didn't have the right to be hurt or upset about what happened to you? That other people have had it worse, so you can't possibly complain about your situation?

If so, you're not alone. Many survivors feel that they aren't justified in their feelings of rage, loss, or betrayal because your story could have been worse.

From birth, we learn that everything has a rating. It's a "good try," or "not good enough," or "perfect." We have our best friends, our enemies, and everything in between. 

It's human nature to try to make sense of things we encounter in our lives, and one way we make sense of our world is by putting things into ranked categories. 

But that doesn't work with pain, and here's why.

Pain cannot be compared. It's not an objective measurement. Two people can experience the same pain, and to one it's excruciating, and the other it's a passing irritation. 

Pain doesn't only "count" at a certain level of severity. Even if you could measure pain objectively, at which point can you declare it sufficiently valid? Who has the right to say for another person if it hurts enough? 

Fact is, pain is pain. Your hurt is just as valid as someone else's, and it matters just as much. 

Accepting the validity of your own pain...and that you have as much right to be hurt as someone else does...is a path to healing from it.

It's easier said than done. Hearing the truth doesn't just take it away. But what does help you is to start living it.

How To Ditch The Pain Scale

Evaluate your pain on its' own terms, not compared to someone else's.

Accept that you have a right to feel what you feel based on what happened to you. 

When you feel the urge to rate your pain, ask yourself why it's important that your pain be lesser than someone else's. 

Have you ever written off your hurt by saying "someone else had it worse?" Was that helpful to you or not?