Difficult life events such as a serious illness or an injury inevitably lead to physical and emotional pain. However, as humans we have a tendency to attach negative thoughts and judgements to our illness and selves and this can increase suffering. Mindfulness has a helpful way of thinking about this; the original pain accompanying an illness is described as the first dart. The second dart is the suffering which comes from the layers we add onto the original difficulty.
Second dart thoughts and ruminations might sound something like this “ If I tried a bit harder I wouldn’t be in this mess”, “ If I was a bit fitter I wouldn’t have hurt my back.” We may also unwittingly create further pain through increased anxiety and body tension and further emotional distress through avoidance of friends and family or situations.
Noticing that we are caught up with negative thoughts, comparisons and judgements about ourselves can be the first step in reducing the additional struggle of an illness or disability. Recognising our feelings and talking about them with family or friends can be helpful.
In counselling you are likely to experience different emotions but you will have someone along side you which can bring relief and understanding and help you lead a more satisfying life.
Wendy Meniru, Counsellor/Psychotherapist
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