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How to accept your chronic pain

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Accepting your chronic pain seems a strange concept – why should you accept something that you hate, that you don’t want, and what does it even mean? I’ve had my chronic pain for nearly seven years now. Only when I accepted it, and changed my mindset, did I start to learn to cope better and carry on doing the things that I enjoy. Here are my thoughts on how to accept your chronic pain.

What we focus on determines what we become

When you first think about accepting your chronic pain, you think it is a negative thing; that you’re giving in and being defeated by your chronic pain. But when you start to think about it a little more, you soon realise that once you accept your chronic pain, you have the key to the rest of your life.

Once you accept your chronic pain, 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 why this has happened to you. Accepting your life as it is, is a must. You can’t get on with the rest of your life until you do.

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 you are working towards that goal.

It is also highly likely that you’ll need some help and support getting to that point of accepting your life with your chronic pain. And that’s ok. There is no excuse not to get any help, or access to people who are further along their chronic pain journey than what you are.

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Here are my suggestions on how you can learn to accept your chronic pain

Learn more about what it means

For me, this was the starting point. I was having trouble understanding what my pain was, why I had it, and I wanted to know more about it.

I searched online for advice, help, and for a better understanding of chronic pain in general. When I was ready to take the next step and focus my time and energy more, I chose to read a book about chronic pain. I learnt so much and it really helped me change my outlook on things. In everything I read, there was always a huge focus on accepting things as they are now.

Two books that stand out if you are struggling to accept your chronic pain are ‘Beyond Pain: Conquer your pain, reclaim your life‘ [aff link] by Anjelo Ratnachandra, and ‘The Pain Companion‘ by Sarah Anne Shockley.

Stop asking ‘why’

The pain journey is like the change curve or the grief cycle; you have to go through certain stages to get out the other side. And at some point you need to learn to stop asking ‘why’. Why me? Why is this happening? Why won’t this pain stop? Why does my life have to change?

The focus instead needs to be on the ‘how’. How can I make things better for myself? How can I move forward? How can I get through this? How can I help myself?

Set a deadline

For me, I knew that if my surgery didn’t work, then I would have to accept my pain and change my outlook and mindset. My surgery was my deadline. I was at this point about 6 months before my surgery took place, and it prepared me for the realisation that I’d have my pain forever. It still wasn’t easy, but mentally knowing that there was a cut off point made it all the better and simpler to deal with.

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One step and one day at a time

Accepting your pain won’t happen overnight. It will also feel like you are taking two steps forward and one back all the time. But each step and each day forward is progress. Don’t beat yourself up when you have bad day. See it and accept it as part of your pain management, and it will all feel part and parcel of the process.

Focus on the positives

No matter what our situation in life, there is always something to be positive and grateful for: being alive, the sun shining, fresh air, food on our plates. When we start to learn to focus more on the good things, we begin to accept things as they are. This soon has a knock-on effect and our whole outlook on life and our mindset begins to change

A huge inspiration for me with this was my partner. She bought me a Happy Box when I was having a tough time learning to cope with my pain. Every day I wrote down at least one thing that made me happy that day, and I put it in my box. At the end of the year I tipped out all the bits of paper and was amazed at how many there were. It made me so happy reading them all again and reflecting on how far I’d come and remembering the different things that I’d done, seen, eaten, felt, enjoyed…you get the picture.

Read my other blog posts on this:

Finding the positives of chronic pain

Why chronic pain can be a good thing

Learn to use your energy wisely

Wasting our energy on the why questions and being negative is not useful or helpful. Chronic pain is both physically and mentally draining and it is important to use your limited energy wisely. Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t, and make sure you do what you can to help yourself.

Your thoughts

Have you accepted your chronic pain?

Are you struggling to accept your chronic pain?

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4 thoughts on “How to accept your chronic pain

  1. Caz / InvisiblyMe says:

    Acceptance is such a tricky one with chronic illness and chronic pain. I see it as a constant work in progress. An interesting aspect with the cut-off point/deadline, definitely something for others to think about as I can see that being a useful strategy and way of looking at things. I do think that reaching out for support, whether with another person or in a book, can be a really important part too. Thanks for the reading recommendations; I’d heard of the Pain Companion but not the first one, and I’ve not read either so I’ll make a note. You’ve made some great points on a very difficult subject!
    Caz xx

    • Alice says:

      I like your point about it being a ‘work in progress’, Caz. And thank you for your feedback on my post – it was an interesting one two write as I wasn’t sure what response I would get.

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