Advice and Pain

Everywhere you click now you read things like: “10 things not to say to someone with (insert affliction here).” Sometimes it’s just 5 things. There are lists upon lists of things not to say to people. And definitely do not give unsolicited advice. That’s apparently a big no-no. But what if this perceived protection and (what feels like) rehearsed empathy are actually hurting us?

As someone who has put her foot in her mouth as a matter of routine her entire life, I think I can understand the nice idea behind the daily deluge of “what not to dos” out there. Trust me when I say, I am sure I could use a filter. But I think, at some level, we might be losing out. What happens when people are too shy to offer their words of advice, love and support in a natural, unfiltered state? I don’t know the answer to that. That’s rhetorical…

If the people who impacted my health had abided by some of these new social rules, I wouldn’t have improved as much as I have. I am certain of that. If I only accept advice that I seek out, how am I getting to information beyond the scope of my every day thinking? The best pieces of advice that helped my health, I never asked for them. That’s probably most likely because I didn’t know to ask. I can tell you the odds of me asking about qi gong before I ever heard the term qi gong, are probably slim to none.

Perhaps you’re one of those people who believe we meet others for a reason. What if those others feel muzzled by social norms about what is appropriate to say? And in a world that has become less and less connected personally, maybe causing people to overthink their genuine words of support and assistance is doing even more damage.

Of course, I want to always be kind but I know periodically I hurt people’s feelings. Hopefully motives shine through.  I can’t help but think that this sudden intolerance for the words of others might just cause us to miss out on that thing, some new information that could help us overcome pain. I am thankful that certain people in my life didn’t adhere to these lists. I would not be where I am now.

Am I turning into Andy Rooney?

2 thoughts on “Advice and Pain

  1. Hey Andy :). Perhaps the whole idea behind most of articles about ” how to be compassionate in your verbal exchanges with someone with a chronic pain syndrome is just that….
    I don’t think it’s going to cause folks to prohibit their exchanges, stifle their honesty- it’s because we have become a performance based, self centered bunch, for whom a few may benefit from the anvil- sized quantity of self- help articles and advice columns target….gosh, I’d love to have at least one Mz Manners generated question posed from my co workers about what it’s like to live with chronic pain? And then, scramble around furiously looking for my football sized filter!

  2. You might be right. And i love your comment! thank you for taking the time to leave it. This is great (well, not the reality of it): “we have become a performance based, self centered bunch, for whom a few may benefit from the anvil- sized quantity of self- help articles and advice columns..” Well said. I am pretty sure that your filter is better than mine. I might have used other words. 🙂

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