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The title of this post sounds a little bizarre. You’re probably thinking how can any form of pain be a good thing? I was thinking the exact same thing 6 years ago. But over time, the more I have learned to accept my pain, the more I have learned that fate has brought me here and I can see the positives of how my life has changed.
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Now I’m not saying chronic pain isn’t a negative thing – of course it is. It causes our bodies and minds to struggle on a daily basis; it causes anger, frustration, and at times hopelessness and isolation; it causes us to change over time and become different people to who we were before the pain began. But when we change our mindset and think about our pain differently, we can start to see things in a more optimistic way and pick out the benefits that chronic pain can have on our lives.
Change your mindset
It can take a long time to accept our chronic pain and get to this point of seeing the positives, but anyone can change their mindset if they want to. I recommend 3 books to help with this:
Read my blog post Everyone with chronic pain must read this book
Read my blog post Why we must not let chronic pain stop us doing things we enjoy
Some of the positives of chronic pain
You learn to realise what’s important in life
Having chronic pain makes you look at things differently. You feel a lot of frustration, and wonder why this is happening to you. But among the negative and questioning thoughts you can learn to see the good things and people around you. The support of your family and friends shines through, and you soon learn to realise what’s important. You learn to look at things with a different perspective and the majority of the stuff you worried about before isn’t as important.
For me, I’ve realised that there is nothing more important than family.
You learn to appreciate the little things
I talk about this in my weekly gratitude posts. How being grateful for the smallest things can really change our mindset and improve our overall wellbeing. People with chronic pain often have long journeys to get a diagnosis, or take a while to learn to adapt and cope with their pain. If you start to pick out little things that make you feel happy or that you are grateful for, you soon see that all these little things add up and create more positivity in your life – probably more than what you realise.
I learned to appreciate the morning sunlight; the way my dogs make me smile; when my partner texts me during her busy work schedule. And much much more. I write down one thing for each day and pop it in my ‘Happy Box’. Sometimes it’s something big (when I climbed the O2) and sometimes it’s something so small (having my first lie-in for months). But all these little things add up and when we make a note of them and look back and reflect, we realise there is so much to be grateful for and happy about despite having chronic pain.
You get to meet amazing people
New chapters in life allow us to meet new people. A new job, moving to a new town, or joining a local club or doing some volunteering. It’s the same with chronic pain. You get to meet new people at pain management groups or by joining support groups online or face-to-face. The opportunity will always be there, we just need to embrace it and be open to getting to know new someone new.
I now have people in my life who I would never have met had I not got my chronic pain. I’ve purposefully made sure I connected with others with chronic pain, who understand what it’s like and ‘get it’. I’ve met one of my best friends through having my pain. We have such a laugh and get on so well, but can also provide that true empathetic support and understanding on our bad pain days too.
opportunities to learn new skills and hobbies
A lot of people turn to crafting, art, or writing to help cope with their pain. It’s a useful distraction and often seen as a mindfulness activity to help prevent dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. These hobbies can form new skills that we would never have had the opportunity to do before having chronic pain.
I started doing adult colouring when I was recovering from my surgery. It gave me something to do that I really enjoyed and gave me something to focus my mind on. I could also see my achievements in my colouring book and this made me feel like I was being productive and creative at the same time.
I’m now also developing my writing skills by working on my blog. I’ve always wanted to be a writer of some sort (one of my life-long goals is to write a book). Hopefully over time my blog will turn in to my own business too – something else I’ve always wanted to have. I’m also learning lots of new skills through my blog work – website creation, editing and scheduling, image design. All this has come about because I have my chronic pain.
Focus on self-care
More than ever, people with chronic pain or chronic illness have to focus on self-care. It’s essential to dedicate time to manage pain, fatigue and other symptoms caused by your health condition or disability. You have to put yourself and your needs first. People on the go all the time, don’t always have this luxury.
Before I had my chronic pain, I’d be on the go all the time or I’d do nothing and just worry about stuff – work, something I’d said to someone, a future task I had to do. Now I have to make time to lie-down to manage my pain, or have a long hot bath to ease my muscles, or go for a walk which helps me keep moving and has so many other health benefits. I still worry about things, but the time I have to manage my pain allows me to manage my anxiety too. I give myself space and time to focus on me and try to relax.
What good things have come about from your chronic pain?
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