I was reading an article titled “It’s Not Your Fault: Dealing With Guilt After a Lung Cancer Diagnosis” by Nathan Pennell, MD, a medical oncologist at the renowned Cleveland Clinic. His article was about how people feel guilt and get blamed for their lung cancer diagnosis.
While reading, I had thoughts of many of my clients’ similar stories of how they felt guilty or were shamed by their family members or friends for their ‘illness’ or diagnosis. Surprisingly, I’m not talking about those with cancer, but conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraine headaches and low back pain which are some of the most common conditions I treat with myofascial release therapy.
It seems our society is obsessed with asking ‘why’ and postulating endlessly on who’s fault something is. Those questions serve no good purpose, and in fact, they hinder the healing process when someone is already hurting with physical or emotional pain.
Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you can be a positive influence for them. Those with pain are already asking themselves what they did wrong or what they should have done differently or why did God allow this to happen. Don’t add to their pain, especially when there’s no medical reason for it. The condition simply ‘is’.
Be supportive and helpful when needed without enabling their pain behavior. For example, a person may grab their neck as they get up from the couch and the spouse responds by telling them to sit still and they will get what they needed. This only enables the pain person to stay in that role. Instead, add encouragement that they can do it themselves and positive reassurance that you understand.
Offer love, compassion and humility when interacting with a person in pain and remember, it’s not their fault!