Psychological pain is not always visible, particularly if the person has mastered the art of the cover-up.
Psychological pain is not always visible, particularly if the person has mastered the art of the cover-up. iStock

How are you really? We are great at hiding the truth

I'm grateful for the fact that I don't have any major, ongoing or chronic health challenges or problems at the moment; a few niggles here and there but overall, great.

I do my best to remember that most of the time, yet it's easy to take it for granted. In fact, it's only when something out of the ordinary happens that I truly appreciate just how much my body supports me. You may be able to relate to that.

A recent example is when I was walking in a sandy riverbed and slightly turned my ankle as I walked over a small rock that was buried and out of sight. It wasn't anything major. I was wearing a good pair of supportive walking boots and I didn't think much about it at the time because it wasn't causing a lot of discomfort. However, that particular day we ended up walking about 12km up and downhill and over uneven ground and by the end my foot certainly let me know how unhappy it was with pain and swelling.

It was obvious to anyone watching that I was in physical pain because I was limping and walking strangely. Doing that created further pain in other parts of my body that were compensating for the injury and it was very uncomfortable.

Yet visible signs of physical pain are not always there for others to see unless the person experiencing it is wincing and limping like me. Those who live with chronic pain do not necessarily have any outward signs and therefore it can be easy for others to misjudge them or make assumptions about their ability or choice to do or not do something.

And it's not just physical pain. Many people experience psychological pain and turmoil at times for myriad reasons. From losing a loved one, a relationship break-up, being bulled or harassed, experience of trauma, being made redundant, having a secret addiction, being diagnosed with a chronic or terminal health condition, it may be one major or many small things that are causing the pain. Again, it's not always visible, particularly if the person has mastered the art of the cover-up. Smiling and attempting to convince everyone that you're fine, doing OK or everything is great may help temporarily but doesn't help in the long term.

My point is that it's important for all of us to remember we don't know who or what someone else is or isn't going through and how they experience life; only they know that and they may be reluctant to tell you the truth.

We all need to be better at checking in with ourselves, our friends, families and others to find out how they really are, particularly if we are seeing and hearing one thing but our intuition is indicating something different.

Rowena Hardy is a facilitator and coach at mindsaligned.com.au


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