Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If a Tree Falls...

If you're the parent of a toddler or pre-schooler, you know about this behavior in kids. Your kid falls down, but only starts to cry as soon as all the grown-ups rush to her side to ask, "Oh! Are you okay? Poor baby!" Many times, if nobody notices, the kid just gets up and carries on playing.

I remember seeing Josie do this when she was younger. Unless she'd really hurt herself, I ignored her. If she started to cry for attention, I sang her a song I learned as a kid: "Nothing's impossible if you try, and if you fall, you must not cry. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again." Now, she doesn't bother to cry for sympathy. She's probably sick of hearing that song.

I think we adults sometimes do this as well. We moan and complain and even feel more pain when we think somebody's around to give us sympathy.

I've been reading other cancer blogs that mention all kinds of side effects and pains that I've been lucky enough to escape. But some of these pains I read about make me wonder if I should be complaining too.

Don't worry. I'm not going to start moaning and groaning just because I have an audience. But it made me think. Do we sometimes intensify our own pain when we see it recognized and validated by others? If no one were around to give us sympathy, would we be more likely to just pick ourselves up and get on with it?

I know there's legitimate pain out there that should be treated with medication and counseling. But I wonder if we're too quick these days to believe we have a problem just because mass media and the self-help section at the bookstores tell us we do. If some of our pain, physical and emotional, didn't have a label, an official stamp of recognition, an audience, would we be more willing to deal with it ourselves?

It's a twist on the age-old philosophical question, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" If we fall down and cry and no one is around to hear it, do we really feel pain?

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Yes. It does make a sound. So should we.