Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. Ah, that tried and true mantra all mothers teach their offspring when other kids choose to pick on them. Is it really true? Honestly? No. It’s been found that physical and emotional pain use the same receptors of the brain. In fact, recent research has indicated that some of the medications (i.e. Tylenol) used to treat physical pain also alleviate emotional pain. But, is numbing our pain a very smart thing to do? I don’t believe it can possibly be because when we numb our pain we miss the lesson the pain is teaching us. Unlike physical pain, where medication may be indicated to reduce swelling and to heal, our brains are not fixed in nature. (before we go further I want to stress, I am not talking about brain illness, I am speaking about the pain caused by the words or actions of another. I seriously don’t want to step on toes this time).
Though some believe a person’s personality is genetically preprogrammed, the science of neuroplasticity suggests our brains are malleable and can change and grow our entire lives, our experiences can rewire us. Reality is actually just a figment of our imagination because (in reality) it only relates to us and our views without our considering a world view. Our views that were founded in, here we are, our experiences. Both the painful and the joyful. As such, the more we know pain, in all of its varying depths, the more we appreciate the good things we experience. If we never felt bitter anger or abysmal disappointments and failures, what would be our grounding point, our standard of measure to know we are reaching a pivotally beautiful, happy apex in our lives? How can we truly appreciate the good unless we at first acknowledge and embrace that which is bad?
The point of all this, the take from? Instead of minimizing a child’s pain by nursery rhyming it out for them perhaps it would behoove us to explain, in a child’s terms why it is we ALL feel emotional pain at some point or the other. And when they wonder why they don’t act like, feel like, look like [insert any other falling short of the “us” crowd here], let them know that though we all have a brain, just like physical likeness, no two are exactly alike, so being “different,” being unique is undeniably a fundamental characteristic that gives us the potential for success in this world. If. Big if, we choose to embrace and learn and grow with our success AND our failures. Heck, I kinda think that’s what makes us the human that we are.
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