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In this blog post I share a simple tip that can help change your whole mindset about chronic pain and start to look at things a little differently to help you start to cope better with your chronic pain.
If your first question when reading this blog post title is how can I do this then you’re already on the right path on your chronic pain journey. If your first question is why should I do this then you probably need to read the following two posts first before reading this post:
Now, first things first, I’m not saying that your pain will go away if you do the things I suggest and I write about here (or in any other of my blog posts). The fact that you have chronic pain unfortunately means that you are in it for the long haul. Instead it is about doing what you can, when you can to help you cope better. And the first step is learning to ask the right questions to know how you can help yourself.
I have good days and bad days with my pain, just like most of you will too. Some days when my pain is bad, I don’t care what anyone says about trying to help myself; I just need to do what I need to do, and focus on my self-care and own priorities. But in between those days, I have times where I feel energised and motivated to do something I enjoy: some distraction, or exercise, or something creative to help me get through the pain and the day. And it all began when I started to change my mindset.
Who is this post for?
Anyone who has chronic pain!
It doesn’t matter if chronic pain is new in your life, or if you’re a pro and you’ve been living with it for years. (And what I mean by pro is that you’re used to the pain, but it doesn’t mean it no longer hurts.) We all need a nudge and reminder at times to change how we think or to kick start us in the right direction again to help us cope better.
The chronic pain journey
Living with chronic pain is a journey, and at some point you will go through the stage of asking the why questions. But, as you’ll find, you are unlikely to get the answers to those questions, even if you are lucky enough to get a diagnosis and understand what is causing your pain.
The image below can help summarise the change curve journey that we all very often go on during different scenarios of our lives. It’s not specific to chronic pain, but does give you some idea of the different stages and emotions that you may go through. Click the image to read more on the website where I got the image from at insights.com.
What not to ask
The time when you are likely to ask the why questions is during the denial stage. Questions similar to the below may regularly pop up in your mind:
- Why me?
- Why is this happening?
- Why won’t this pain stop?
- Why does my life have to change?
- Why do I have to have this pain?
Get it out your system and ask yourself those questions, but then stop. Do not ask them again if you can help it.
The key to asking better questions is acceptance
You are likely to go through the next few stages of the change curve in the diagram above before you get to this point, but the crucial part to aim for is acceptance.
Only when you hit this part of the curve and you accept your chronic pain, can you learn to focus on the future, use your energy more wisely, and start taking back control as much as you can. You are no longer fighting against what has happened (as in the cause of your chronic pain), nor are you challenging where you are in life, and asking a load of why questions. Accepting your life as it is, is a must. You can’t get on with the rest of your life until you do.
“We cannot change anything unless we accept it”Carl Jung
Getting to the point where you fully accept your pain can take time. It can take years, like it did with me. But the important thing is that you are aware and understand that you are working towards that goal.
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What to ask instead
So now you’re starting to move back up the curve and you’re wanting to take control again. You’re starting to feel a little more positive and your mindset is looking at what you can do, not at what you can’t. Now you begin to ask the how questions:
- How can I make things better for myself?
- How can I move forward?
- How can I learn to distract myself from my pain?
- How can I build pain management in to my day-to-day life?
- How can I take one day at a time to help me cope better?
These questions will lead you to find the answers to help you help yourself. And these how questions are that step forward.
When you focus on the stuff you can’t change, you are wasting your very limited energy supply on the wrong things. Chronic pain is draining – mentally and physically. You need to learn learn to use your energy and focus wisely and ask questions that are going to help yourself.
The one action you can take away from this blog post
Do you want to do a little more each day to hep yourself cope better with your chronic pain?
Get your copy of my 30 page book and after a month you will start to understand more about chronic pain, learn what you can do to take back control, and cope better with your chronic pain than you have before.