Quantity

"On a scale of 1-10, rate your pain."

Every one of us has done this at some point in our lives. We rate our pain.


A messed up side effect of our reductionist approach, we generalize this scale so it extends well past its semi-useful diagnostic purpose to encompass how we weigh our emotional pain. And then we add comparison.


My sadness is a 5, but that person's distress is a 9.


I hate that my partner leaves their wet towel on the bathroom floor, but they had a long day at work. I dislike the car that I have, but some people don't have a car at all so I should be happy with what I have. I can't stand the way my mother talks to me, but at least she's in my life. I hate that I lost a leg, but there are starving children in the world.


I've watched a friend put off therapy for years because they wanted to "leave it for the people who really need it." My last partner was so filled with self loathing for "being evil" (requires a long explanation that would dive way off point) that they would not move forward in their mental health. I have grinned through pain, physical and emotional, because I did not want to burden others and add to their problems. And let's not start on the number of clients I have worked with who delay disclosure of dysfunctions and traumas because "they're not a big deal."


Pain is a Qualitative experience, not an Quantitative one. Pain is never relative. "First world problems" are just as real to those experiencing them as any other problem.


By Quantifying pain, we assert that there is a scale of importance, that some pain is more worthy of attention than others. This is a massive lie that holds many people back from finding the help they need, from creating the life that they want, from having the experiences that would make their souls fly.


We minimize our pain so we do not appear dramatic, or self centered, or ungrateful.


We minimize our pain to virtue signal.


No one can assess another person's pain level. If it is a pressure that can be lived with or not is determined only by internal standards.


We must stop automatically minimizing pain by comparison. "It can't be that bad." "I've been through worse." "There are other people who would love to be where you are."


But most importantly, we have to stop doing this to ourselves.


Own your pain. And if you want to change it, change it. Fuck anyone who says otherwise.

© 2020   Rhiannon Seymone