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Melody T. McCloud M.D.
Melody T. McCloud M.D.

Never Underestimate How Much Someone Hurts

Hearing the pain can keep anger at bay

In the "First Do No Harm" (healthy relationships) chapter of Living Well, Despite Catchin' Hell(which everyone can read, not only Black women/men), I include eighteen medical "pearls of wisdom" to help readers heal and bolster their interpersonal relationships. A dear friend (who's had a lot of pain in his childhood, and adult, life) really loves this one, excerpted below:


A friend once informed me he was "almost finished with chemotherapy." When he volunteered the details, he told me, "It took six months for them to make the diagnosis. I kept telling the doctors about my pain, but I don't think they believed me! Initial tests didn't show anything and they'd always just tell me to ‘go home.' Only after six months of my insisting that I had severely intense pain did they finally seriously pursue a workup...and found I had lymphoma."

As a physician (and as a friend), I was upset as I thought about how much valuable time was lost in his case. Months of suffering and pain he endured could have been avoided, and his treatment could have begun so much earlier, had his complaints been taken seriously and earnestly evaluated. That gentleman is now dead.

In affairs of the heart, pain is oftentimes as much a part of the relationship as are love and glee. The very thing (and person) that can give you so much pleasure and joy can likewise cause an equal degree of pain and emotional distress.

For this reason, it is very important that you never underestimate how much someone hurts. Just because you can't see the pain--or you feel that what your spouse or friend says hurts them shouldn't hurt because after all, it doesn't hurt you--doesn't mean the pain is not real and extremely palpable to him or her. What hurts them to the core may not even ruffle one feather of yours. But don't be insensitive. If someone you love actually has the courage to tell you, "This has hurt me," make sure you actually hear what's being said...and not just the formulation of the words, but the heartfelt, pained emotions behind those words.

Have you ever noticed that when there has been some argument or breakdown in communication between you and your loved one or friend, it's because one of you has experienced pain? If the expression of that pain is ignored, and the emotion is actually minimized by your loved one, then another more volatile emotion usually erupts--anger.

Anger, in most cases, is the lashing out at another person, the result of a feeling of not being heard, which leads to further frustration and deeper pain. Unfortunately, we seem more able to hear, see, and feel another person's anger, yet often turn a deaf ear to the expression of pain that preceded it. Upon hearing the anger, erroneous and misplaced judgments generally surface: "Why are you acting so mean?" "You don't have to get nasty about it." "You're being a witch."

If you know your loved one to be a sincere person and not a manipulator, train your ear and your heart to hear their pain, to validate their pain...and its degree. The sooner you appreciate another's pain, the sooner the emotional issue can be identified, and the sooner the healing can begin.

For more relationship pearls of wisdom, see the E-Book First Do No Harm: how to Heal Your Relationsbips Using the Wisdom of Professional Caregivers.

Be Healthy, Be Blessed...and Live Well!

Copyright 2011 Dr. Melody T. McCloud. All rights reserved. Okay to share link with author credit.

About the Author
Melody T. McCloud M.D.

Melody T. McCloud, M.D., is an obstetrician-gynecologist and the author of First Do No Harm: How to Heal Your Relationships Using the Wisdom of Professional Caregivers.

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