As I was driving the other night, I had my music on shuffle and a track by Five Finger Death Punch came on – “Sham Pain”. Maybe not to everyone’s taste but the message here I feel is a critical one.
The track explores the dichotomy of not fully acknowledging our troubles by trading them off as not being SO bad… because x, y, z.
Well honestly, troubles, if left to brew, become bigger troubles, and I believe this to be the very idea behind this song, and it’s a powerful message!
Let’s do a deep dive into “sham pain” and what could be meant by this term.
In anyone’s career, in just about any industry you care to mention, things go wrong! There are aspects you don’t like about the work, problems overwhelm you or there are parts of your work that just plain aren’t “you”. These are challenges that face us all and there’s pretty much no avoiding them. They’re part and parcel and they’re here for the long haul!
Beyond that, there’s the unexpected and the dream vs the reality type scenarios. Ultimately, endless variation of possibility which informs our day to day experience of life.
So what do we do when we hit problems that cause us pain? We start to shrug them off by comparing them to our gains. Hey, it’s not so bad because this is my dream job. Or I don’t mind feeling so down about X, because this is what I always wanted to do. Or even, this comes with the territory, if I want to be a successful X, I’m going to have to suffer this, it’s not so bad…
It’s not “SO” bad! … Isn’t it?
Well the reality is that if you’re suffering something, anything, you’re going to be worse of as a result of that suffering. And I’d go so far as to say that you don’t need to “suffer” it, you could “experience” it. Offload, share that burden with someone else. Explore what it means to be “suffering” from your troubles and find a way of coming to terms with it in a way that benefits and strengthens you!
Most pain is your body’s coping mechanism for trauma, either physical or mental. If you can learn to lean into it, you’ll become a much stronger person as a result. This is the basis of helping others. If we have lived experience that we have learnt to cope with, then we can use that learning to untangle and reveal the truth of the experiences of others.
So “sham pain” can be used to describe a level of suffering you endure that you don’t give due credit to. You excuse it, minimalist it, marginalise it, all in the name of trying to cope with it in an unhealthy way… by measuring it against a positive in your life.
Well I’d be the first to stand up and say there is no light without the dark, but that’s not exactly what’s happening here. More like, we’re giving authority and permission to our negativity, weighed against what we perceive to be the positives that have been born out of suffering.
I ask – why do our positives need to be attached to negatives? That’s not health thinking!
The mental pain, the anguish that we suffer in life, is relative. Relative to our lived experiences and relative to our ability to process and cope with what we’re experiencing. It’s a cocktail of many different factors all adding up to what constitutes YOU!
You don’t need to justify your pain, if you don’t want to! Pain doesn’t need justification, it’s pain. It’s already there for a reason, you’re under no obligation to give it a second reason to be and it certainly doesn’t need two explanations.
I am hurt because X happened…
Is so much clearer and un-muddled than…
I am hurt because X happened, but that’s OK because Y happened!
The simple reality is that these are two different events, tied together to create a sense of balance. Perhaps to cancel out guilt or a condition of worth.
You are hurt because X happened, yes!
You are happy because Y happened, yes!
Try not to join them together!!
The trouble we so often have is giving a piece of our happiness over to our sadness, in order to balance the scales. Happiness need not be tied to your sadness and vice versa. They are mutually exclusive and can remain so. I imagine that we do this out of a certain sense of guilt or maybe it’s our locus of evaluation or perhaps even our internal conditions of worth. Regardless, you own your happiness, and your pain is most certainly not created by it.
In closing then, don’t become a victim of the “sham pain” epidemic – you don’t need to marginalise your negative emotions. It is dangerous to do so. There is nothing “sham” about your pain, mental or physical. Instead, consider talking it through with a skilled helper – someone willing to listen and to understand what you’re experiencing. The power to learn and grow is already inside you.
It might be difficult at first to accept that your pain is real. It might be difficult to accept that your pain is valid. These are all conditions of worth that are worth exploring in greater detail. A journey you can go on to discover the truth behind your thought patterns and the way to view and experience your own life. It’s complex stuff, but the effort you put in to self discovery can change your life and the lives of those around you, forever!
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