Hold your cell phone up to your face, like you’re talking to someone… keep it there for 20 or 30 minutes, constantly holding your arm tight as you do. When you finally decide to put the phone down, your arm is going to be tired and sore. It’s going to hurt just to put the phone down.
The same thing is happening with my eyes and my new glasses. I’ve had these glasses for about 2 weeks now, and it hurts my eyes to use them. But I keep wearing my new glasses, forcing myself to adjust to them. I do this for the same reason that I put down the phone after an extended conversation; in spite of how much it hurts my arm to put it down, it is better to deal with that pain now than the constant and enduring pain of always holding my arm tightly closed.
Living With Pain
There are some schools of thought that say pain never really goes away. Instead, we learn to live with it. The pain that we experience becomes the new normal, a baseline of where we are at any given time.
I think this is true in some cases – like the way I used to focus my eyes, prior to having these new glasses.
I don’t think this school of thought is true in all cases, though. Putting down the phone allows my arm to relax and heal itself, for example. Once my arm has rebuilt it’s supply of energy and released all the things that had built up while hold the phone, the pain does go away.
Sometimes we don’t realize we’re living with pain, because it has become the new normal. It’s surprising how quickly things become “normal”, as well.
If the pain we feel is slowly onset, it can be like boiling a frog. We don’t realize we’re being cooked until it’s too late. There may be a sharp end or a crash coming up, but we don’t know it because we don’t recognize the pain.
I go through cycles on a fairly regular basis, with various points of stress in my life. When I work extra hours toward a project deadline, for example, I carry a heavy burden of stress. It is physically and mentally taxing. I quickly become accustomed to it, though and it becomes my new normal. I forget that the pain, the stress and the issues that result from these, are there.
At the project end, once the deadline is passed, or when the situation finally resolves itself, I crash. Hard. My body shuts down. My brain won’t think. I often get sick with flu-like symptoms, general fatigue and aches, and have to spend a week or more in recovery mode.
When I’m in recovery mode, I’ll stay home from work. I’ll watch movies and take naps during the day. I’ll eat extra food and let my work go unattended. I won’t answer emails often enough. I won’t attend meetings. I’ll call in sick, essentially. Because if I don’t, I put myself at even greater risk of an even larger and more dangerous crash.
Much like the time that someone spends in a hospital, after surgery or other medical procedures, the time I spend in recovery is important. It is time that my body, my mind, my motivation and my desire to continue working, needs.
What Doesn’t Kill You, Only … ???
This isn’t good for me. Not by any means. These cycles of stress – mentally, physically and otherwise – take a toll on me. Every cycle I go through leaves me with less than I had before. Less time, less motivation, less ability to care and do my job.
I used to tell myself that it was making me stronger. Maybe it was when I was a kid – late teens, early twenties. But the reality of what this is doing to me is sinking in, slowly but surely, year after year. And it’s not good.
No one should have to go through cycles of pain like this; building up, crashing, recovering and starting over again. It is a terrible way to live.
If I hold the phone to my face for too long, my arm hurts. I know the stress I am putting my arm through. When I am finally done holding the phone, my arm hurts more. It has to recover. This is pain that should be prevented. I should switch hands to hold the phone, use a hands-free head set or find another alternative.
I’ve spent the last however-many years straining my eyes to see. My eyes became accustomed to the stress, the pain and the difficulty of focusing. Now that I have my glasses, I have to accept this pain of allowing my eyes to relax. It’s like I’ve held my phone in my arm for 20 or 30 years, and now I have to put it down. But I know that if I allow my eyes to recover through the use of these glasses, that my eyes will experience less strain and pain over-all.
Recognize The Difference
Learning to live with pain is something that we have to deal with far too often. The death of a loved one, a friend moving away, relationships that end – there are some pains that will never go away, or take a tremendously long time to go away.
But that doesn’t mean we should learn to always live with every pain. There are some pains that can and should go away. We need to learn to recognize the difference in the pains we are feeling.