I can’t tell you how many times some random person has offered unasked-for advice on ending my chronic pain, or a professional healer I just barely met in a social setting has assured me (the minute they find out I have a physical challenge) that they can make me pain free.
Has this happened to you? It just happened again for the umpteenth time yesterday, so I felt I wanted to address it here.
We Appreciate Your Concern, But...
Thank you so much for caring. Truly.
We respect and honor that you really want to help us get better, and that you may even be experts in your field. Please respect and honor that we are also experts - experts in living with our specific conditions and pains.
You probably don’t know that we get people telling us how to heal ourselves all the time. And that puts us in the position of having to constantly say no, of having to justify not taking all of that advice or hiring all those healers who want to massage, balance, or re-align us or fill us full of some miracle supplement.
How Can I Put This?
We tell you about all the things we’ve already done, how chronic pain is different and not that simple, not so easy to deal with. This puts us in the very strange and uncomfortable position of constantly having to defend the pain we’re in, which is a really unpleasant feeling, and not one we enjoy.
Can you imagine? You’re walking around with a broken leg in a cast and people keep coming up to you and giving you advice for how to treat smelly feet or what to do for a hangnail. You have to keep explaining over and over again that a broken leg is much worse than that, it takes a lot longer to heal, you’re already doing everything you know how to do, and, thanks very much, but that advice isn’t really applicable.
Can you imagine how exhausting that would be, especially if the person offering the hangnail treatment is insulted that you aren’t as excited about it as they are?
Curb Your Enthusiasm
I’m sure it’s entirely unintentional, but it’s kind of an insult to our intelligence and motivations, and minimizes the incredible challenges inherent in actually coming out the other side of pain permanently. You’ve implied that being in pain is wrong, therefore we’re wrong, and you’re going to set us right.
Being in pain is not where we want to be, but it is also not a deficiency of character. If we could be out of pain, we would. We are not resisting healing. We are in chronic pain.
Maybe Try This Instead
First, if we haven’t sought you or your advice out, ask our permission to talk with us about our chronic pain. Please don’t start the conversation by telling us what we should be doing.
Second, if we’re open to talking about it, find out what our specific condition is, how it affects us (don’t assume you know), how extensive it is, how long we’ve had it, and what we’ve done already.
Third, if you still feel you have something to offer, ask our permission to present whatever piece of advice or healing modality that may be. Please don’t be offended if we simply say, thanks, but no thanks.
Fourth, be honest. If you’ve helped other people, great, we may want to hear about it, but don’t make wild claims about how you can heal us almost instantly when no one else has been able to in years. Chronic pain is complex and long term, that’s why it’s chronic, it doesn’t lend itself to quick fixes.
Fifth, be gracious if, after hearing what you have to say, we decline to work with you or take your advice. Please don’t assume that it means that we don’t want to heal. I’m sure you believe that your method or supplement or diet or exercise is the right one, but so does everyone else. Pushing it on us makes us as uncomfortable as someone pushing their religious beliefs on us. We can make up our own mind, thanks.
Thanks For Not Sharing
In summary, know that we appreciate your caring, but please give us a break with all the advice. Don’t feel bad if we decline to call your favorite massage therapist or book a session with you as a healer. We’re already working full time on healing.
Thank you for your concern. Really. And the best advice we can give you in regard to offering your services or advice? Wait until we ask for it.