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HR Future Lite November 2014 Cover
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Home Editor's View How good are you at handling pain?
Editor's View

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How good are you at handling pain?


Pain, both physical and emotional, is a reality that many people have to deal with. There’s a good side and a bad side to pain. It’s therefore important that we learn to listen to what our pain is telling us so that we can respond appropriately.

We all have to deal with pain at some stage of our lives, whether it’s light and of nuisance value or whether it’s severe pain that puts us out of action for a time. For some, pain is only of short duration, known in the medical world as “acute” but for others pain can be a long term challenge, known as “chronic” pain.

Pain is one of the most important messengers our bodies possess and this is what makes it so important that we listen to what our pain is telling us. People who ignore physical pain, dismissing it as a nuisance and thinking that it will go away are not doing themselves a favour. When all is well, the body will operate in a pain free manner, so when you experience some form of physical pain, it’s wise to establish exactly what’s causing the pain as it could be alerting you to something of which you otherwise would not have been aware.

Continuing to ignore the pain will therefore allow the condition causing it to get worse until, in unfortunately too many cases, it’s too late to do anything about it. This happens in many cancer patients who ignore their pain for too long. When they eventually see a doctor because the pain has just become too much to bear, the cancer has had time to progress so far that it has spread to the organs and there is very little any doctor can do to save the patient.

Emotional pain works in the same way. If you are experiencing emotional pain, you are being sent very clear signals that all is not well, usually in your relationships with others. The pain might be as a result of difficulties you are experiencing with a partner, child, friend or colleague. If you continue to ignore the pain, you will simply be allowing the problem to get worse and worse until, like the doctor with the cancer patient, there’s very little, if anything, you can do to fix things.

We also experience pain in the workplace, called “organisational pain”. Again, such pain is sending you or whoever is in charge some very clear messages that something is wrong. If the pain is ignored, there may well be a tragic series of events triggered.

We would be very selfish and insensitive if we were to ignore the pain that others are experiencing. If we are in a position to do something to alleviate their pain, we need to do so, even more so if we have been part of the cause of their pain.

Experience has taught me that most people don’t have a very high level of consciousness when it comes to pain, whether it’s their own, or someone else’s. I urge you to raise your level of consciousness when it comes to pain. Think about the challenges you have been dealing with both in a personal or professional capacity. Start to listen to what the pain in your body, your heart or your organisation is telling you. Listen to what the pain of others is telling you.

Once you have heard the message of the pain, identify the real cause of the pain or get professional help to do so and then set about addressing the problem that has been causing the pain. Pain is not the problem – pain is the symptom, so using a painkiller for your head, heart, department or company just to get it to go away for a bit will not eliminate the cause of the problem. By having the courage to face the root cause of your pain as soon as possible, you will greatly increase your chances of successfully eliminating it. By leaving it unattended, you increase the risk of disaster.

Have the courage to become more conscious of pain when it occurs, and move swiftly to address its causes and you will encounter more success and fulfilment than you thought possible!

Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net and a leadership renewal coach.        

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