The ugly truth in the world is, people love to gossip. But, they love to gossip about others, not themselves. So when the dynamic changes and the conversation becomes about yourself, for most people that is hard. I mean, we are told, “don’t brag,” and things like, “people are just being polite when they ask you how you are feeling, they don’t really want to know,” then we begin to wonder, is it okay to talk about how we feel?
Now that my co-workers know that I’m “sick” they ask me how I am feeling every morning. Some mornings I feel like it’s obvious how I’m feeling by the way I waddle in…late for that matter. While other days as I’m sitting at my desk as they walk in it’s not so obvious. I always say the same thing, “okay for me.” Then the other day my boss asked, “would you rather I didn’t ask you how you were feeling?” I wanted to say, “YES! PLEASE stop asking me!” But, instead I said no, it was fine. The reasoning I didn’t tell him to stop isn’t a simple one though.
Because I over think everything my first thought was, maybe he is asking to gauge if I’m lying. Of course that’s not right, he is asking to be polite. So in return I must tell him it doesn’t bother me that he asks. But it does. Why? Because when people ask me how I’m feeling, I begin to focus my attention on how I’m feeling, which usually makes me feel worse until I can redirect my attention. It’s like when people tell me to think about my breathing, then I begin to hyperventilate, breathe off course, hold my breath, it’s just something that when I think about it, I just make it worse. But thinking about how I feel, it all of a sudden makes me realize the radiating pain in left arm.
But shhhhhh. No one really wants to know how you feel. I dread going to the doctors where they ask you to rank your pain from 1 to 10, like there is a Richter scale for pain that everyone knows. Let me tell you something, I know it’s not a 10, because I’m not dead. I assume 10 is pain so horrible it is deadly. I give 7 as my average annoying painful normal, and it was 8.5 when I couldn’t leave the bed. But how do I really know? No one hands you a chart and says, “here are the pain number levels.” It would be much easier, but they don’t. Yet we are asked, what our pain level is, never knowing how much worse it truly could be, and hoping to stay at a 7.
But back to the ugly truth of gossip, the vein of our society’s communication, gossip is acceptable, talking about your “condition” not so much. Even if you are asked, think about your response. Does it really matter to this person? Do they really want to hear about how your left side is numb today? Do they really want to hear about the Charlie horses you are experiencing in your arm and foot simultaneously? Or would they rather hear, “I’m okay.” I’m not saying don’t ever tell anyone, I’m saying find the right people to tell. Find an old friend, a new friend, a support group, find other people like you, or not like you. Just don’t not tell anyone, because when you focus on the pain alone, it hurts way more, and it doesn’t need to.