Let’s start to pay more attention to understanding and empathizing with those who are dealing with mental and physical changes, columnist Loretta LaRoche says. Telling them, “Oh, you’ll be just fine” when their faces are grimacing with pain does not reek of understanding or caring.
I always seemed to be able to set goals and achieve them to some degree. When I first began teaching stress management and doing motivational talks, I would pump people with tons of reasons why they could do anything they wanted to if they tried. I look back and feel a certain degree of regret at not being more compassionate, but we are often “too soon old and too late smart.”
Over the years I have tempered that message due to the realization that not everyone has the biology or temperament to reach for the stars, or the desire. In the world of motivation much of the rhetoric is focused on ways you can realize your dreams if and when you start to remove your negative thoughts and become more positive. I certainly can recall sharing that message especially when I was fairly young and had no major health issues. What I am beginning to realize as I age and find myself dealing with multiple joint issues is there is very little rhetoric on how individuals are supposed to motivate themselves when they are compromised by depression, or are suffering from physical pain.
I used to go out into my garden and weed, dig and plant from dusk to dawn on my days off, keep the house clean, shop for food, cook, and then get up and go to the airport. In the last few years I have had to reduce my activities due to needing both knees replaced – and possibly a shoulder – and the pain that comes from those problems.
I am basically an optimistic person but I have never had lessons in how my body was going to deteriorate, or how aging was going to affect my energy. Yes, there are folks who look and act younger than their peers, and my hat goes off to them, but why do we not speak to the fact that life is tenuous at best and our minds and bodies can start to rail against us for a myriad of reasons. There is a sadness attached to this that is never discussed or allowed for very long since you’re supposed to hurry up and have a positive thought.
Well, I will certainly attempt to be upbeat as I go through the replacement process, but let’s start to pay more attention to understanding and empathizing with those who are dealing with mental and physical changes. Telling them, “Oh, you’ll be just fine” when their faces are grimacing with pain does not reek of understanding or caring. My mother used to say, “You’ll see,” when I told her to exercise when she didn’t feel well. Well, I did! And once again she was right.
Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the website at www.stressed.com or call 800-998-2324.
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