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Sometimes chronic pain can stop us doing the things we enjoy and love to do. I went through a real bad patch a few years ago when I said no to doing things with my partner and my friends. This affected my happiness, my relationship, and ultimately my mental health. I had no life and I was miserable.
Things got much better when I changed my mindset, focused on the positives, and decided it was much better to be in pain and happy, rather than be unhappy and in pain.
I started doing the things I love to do again and I got my life back. It’s not easy, and everyone’s pain is different. For some people, their pain literally takes over their whole lives and the smallest things can be such big challenges. But it is important to to find something you enjoy and carry on doing it.
Chronic pain is exhausting
Chronic pain changes everything – what we do, how we do it, how we think, our energy levels, our concentration, our perception of things, the list goes on. Our pain is often invisible to others but it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
“Just because I’m used to it doesn’t mean it no longer hurts.”
People with chronic pain use coping strategies to get by and carry on their daily lives as best as possible. This can be exhausting; we put a lot of energy in to planning ahead, changing our behaviours so that we hide our pain from others, and making sure we plan our energy and pain for the next day. This can make us tired before we even start actually doing things.
You must choose your happiness over your pain
Deciding to do something is the first step. Finding out how others carry on doing things they enjoy, despite their chronic pain, is a very good second step. You must choose to be happy and not be defeated by your pain.
I learnt a lot about getting my life back and how to cope with my chronic pain in the book “Beyond Pain: Conquer your pain, reclaim your life” by Angelo Ratnachandra. I read this book before I had my surgery and it really helped me to think differently and to learn to accept my pain. My whole mindset changed once I knew that my surgery hadn’t worked and that I had to become friends with my pain and learn to think differently.
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You can still say ‘no’
On my very bad pain days I do still have to say no. Sometimes there is no specific trigger that makes it a bad pain day, but I just have to go with the flow on the day, and not be too harsh on myself when things don’t go to plan. It’s about balancing pain versus life, and overdoing things one day can really affect things the next day.
I have learnt over the past few years that having chronic pain and still doing a large majority of the things I enjoy is much better than having chronic pain and not doing the things I enjoy. Sometimes these things may only be small – reading a good book; having a mammoth Netflix session; getting organised with my blogging; going out for a coffee with my partner – but I am doing something that makes me happy and that gets my endorphins going. I’d rather be happy and in pain, than miserable and in pain.
How do you carry on doing the things you enjoy?
Was there a specific moment that made you change your mindset?
Do you still struggle to focus on your happiness?
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