A couple of years ago my son slipped while using a school sewing machine and broke the needle off inside his finger. We sat waiting in hospital emergency with the needle protruding from the middle of his fingernail. But fortunately he wasn’t in any real pain.
A young intern came to have a look at it and told Jules he’d have to have an injection to numb the finger so that the needle could be removed. Jules asked how painful this would be and the intern said, “Like a bee sting for 30 seconds.” Well, that did. Jules started whimpering and then howling his head off. This “imagined pain” scenario went on for about 10 minutes with everyone (nurses, intern and me) trying to console him. Eventually the actual surgeon came along and suggested a tranquilizer. Once the pill had worked its magic he then gave Jules 3 quick injections in the base of his finger which he hardly felt.
Within minutes the needle was out of his nail and we were on our way home. For the next few days Jules felt like a war hero. “I like injections!” was his revelation.
So why am I telling you this?
Whenever you’re in pain or upset, ask yourself, “Is this clean pain or dirty pain?”
What’s the difference?
Clean pain is real pain. A needle stuck in your finger.
Dirty pain is self created. By your own thoughts and perhaps vivid imagination.
(For example, worrying that the pain of an injection will be so bad that you’ll pull away and end up with 2 broken off needles stuck in your finger instead of one.)
Dirty pain lasts much longer than clean pain. Sometimes a lifetime.
But it usually dissolves quickly when we can catch ourselves at it.
Or as my dad used to say, “Why worry? It may never happen!”
There are a couple of really good systems to help you see dirty pain: Continue reading