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How to have a chronic pain mindset – Part 2

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Mindset is a bit of a buzz word at the moment. The Google definition of mindset is the established set of attitudes held by someone. I believe that this is a big part of learning to cope with chronic pain. In this post I talk about some of the ways that you can have a chronic pain mindset.

Catch up on Part 1 where I talk about being positive and grateful, appreciating the little things, and focusing on what you can do, not on what you can’t.

Control the stuff that is within your control

We often find that we focus on the things we want to change, as they are the things that frustrate, anger or annoy us. Like having chronic pain: we don’t want it and we want to change it.

“Why won’t my pain go away?”

“I want to do [activity] but I can’t because of my pain.”

“I miss the old me.”

Instead, we need to change our mindset and learn to think differently to help us help ourselves. The negative thoughts and things we can’t control will still be there, but try focusing on what you can control instead, and see how you feel.

“I’m in pain, but I will still go outside and enjoy the sunshine.”

“I’m struggling today but I will read a book to help distract myself.”

“I can’t meet up with my friends because I’m in agony, but I will accept it this time, not get annoyed or upset more than necessary, and will see my friends soon.”

Don’t compare yourself to others

Chronic pain affects everyone differently depending on what that pain is, what causes it, and how we cope with it. Everyone’s pain journey is different.

Someone with the same pain as you may have had it for 15 years, whilst you’ve only had it for 6 months. We all react differently to pain, and we all learn to cope in different ways.

It’s also not a good idea to compare yourself to those who don’t have chronic pain. This will do you no good. Plus, like with most chronic pain conditions that are often invisible, you don’t know what other people are going through as, more often than not, you can’t see it. So you can’t judge someone and compare them to yourself.

Be flexible and adaptable

I love planning and getting things in my calendar; things to look forward to. Chronic pain in unpredictable. Despite these plans, I often have to cancel things or change what I’m doing because I’m having a bad pain day.

I’ve learned over time to accept this. Sometimes I get a little frustrated, especially when it impacts on my partner, but the both of us have got used to this and we adapt things as we need to.

The more annoyed or angry you get, the more hurt you’ll feel, and this can make your pain worse. It takes time to learn to be flexible and adapt to each day, but again, focus on what you can control instead.

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Focus on your strengths

This is another good tip for anyone, not just those with chronic pain. We are often encouraged to increase our knowledge, skills and understanding of things we aren’t so good at. But I don’t agree with this. We are never all going to be good at everything.

Obviously we all have our strengths, and doing something we are good at or that we enjoy doing releases endorphins and makes us feel good. Endorphins are also a natural pain reliever so we should all be encouraged to do more of what we enjoy to help us cope with our chronic pain.

We need to identify and understand what we are good at, what our strengths are, and build on this. Often our strengths, are things we enjoy, so it makes complete sense to do more of the good stuff.

I like to think I’m good at writing, so through my blog I am learning more about it; I also really enjoy doing my blog, so this helps encourage me and motivate to get on with it (except when my pain takes over and I need to give myself a break).

I enjoy cooking. I’ve had no training in it, but I’ve tried new recipes over the years and (again, I like to think) I’ve got quite good at it. The combination of enjoyment and strength is one that should not be ignored.

Accept the bad days as well as the good

Don’t fight the bad days. Learn to accept them and go with the flow. Easier said than done, I know, I’ve been there.

On these days, it’s important to use some of the other tips in this and Part 1 to help you cope better on the day. There’s nothing wrong with being upset, frustrated and angry on bad pain days, but don’t allow this to take over. Do what you need to do, and then find the best way for you to cope.

Other posts you may find useful

The benefit of talking about your chronic pain

11 simple ways to cope with chronic pain

My ‘new life’ – suddenly earning to cope with chronic pain and disability

Progress not perfection

I don’t think anyone will ever learn to accept and cope with their chronic pain 100%. We are never perfect at anything.

It’s about progress – doing something every day to help you learn to cope better. The little things; the big things.

Don’t beat yourself up if you get things wrong, or take a step backwards. We all do that, it’s life. As long as you know you are doing what you can, that is all you can do.

Take one day at a time – but plan for your future

Your life isn’t over when you have chronic pain. It can often feel like that in the early days. Time, understanding, and you being in control of your mindset will mean that you can live the life you want.

This tip is a bit contradictory. But we need to take one day at a time and learn to accept and cope with things, but plan for our future to keep us motivated, inspired, and have things to look forward to.

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Your thoughts

How did you feel when you read this post? Did you agree? Did you disagree and get annoyed?

Do you do any of these things and feel your mindset is much better than it used to be?

Have I missed something? Share other tips that work for you.

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4 thoughts on “How to have a chronic pain mindset – Part 2

  1. Caz / InvisiblyMe says:

    So many good points & suggestions. Sometimes I think we need reminders to do these things, like accepting the bad days, looking at what is in our control etc, as we can otherwise get caught along in a cycle of frustration with chronic illness. Being more flexible still trips me up quite a lot as I find it hugely annoying but it’s a constant work-in-progress trying to ‘go with the flow’ a little more. Great post!
    Caz xx

  2. zenda says:

    I could have written this to be honest, as i believe all you have written. I think stressing about the fact i have a chronic illness makes it worse, so i have accepted it and its limitations. I always find things to do on my computer just helping others deal with their pain or life helps me to think about others.

    since being on the chronic illness group it makes you realise just how many people are suffering and some terribly, and i think to myself really what do i have to complain about.

    I am 68 and have had a wonderful life. my memories keep me going, and so do my animals and my family.

    Just sitting outside in the sunshine is great. I look for the acheivements in my life they can be tiny, like just getting up out of bed, or sorting rubbish out. It never has to be a huge thing.

    Never ever be hard on yourself. If your in pain then complain if it helps. You should never have to apologies to friends and families why you cant go out to be with them. You cant and that is that. If they are friends then they should understand and not make you feel bad about it.
    There is nothing wrong in having a duvet day and just overdosing on films or t.v. series lol.

    Life is good with a chronic illness its just we have limitations but doesnt mean we cant have a life. xxx

    • Alice says:

      Hi Zenda. Thank you for this wonderful comment. You explain it so well – we have a life, but with limitations. Animals are great aren’t they; they give us a purpose and love us no matter what ?

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