Updated: Aug 9
Being told your body isn't properly functioning is scary. There are a plethora of emotions and thoughts that might run through the brain. Even without an exact diagnosis, the uncertainty of feeling better one day can seem overwhelmingly out of reach. So what does a person with chronic pain do? How do they cope and move forward in life with chronic pain?
There is one mindset shift that can help improve overall wellbeing. This coping method will allow a chronic pain Warrior to begin looking at life's cup as half full rather than a glass half empty. Mindset is the only tool we truly have within ourselves to feel better, do better, and be better for ourselves. Keep reading to find out how to shift mindset and better cope with chronic pain.
Emotions That Prevent Recovery
The way we react to life's stressors, people, personal thoughts, and pain can affect the way we experience life itself. Emotions like overwhelm, anxiety, sadness, anger, and frustration can cause increased stress and put the brain in "fight, flight, or freeze" mode. This mindset and emotional reactions can be the difference between healing and managing chronic pain versus becoming swallowed and controlled by chronic pain.
On the other hand, a mindset that promotes emotions of calm, control, and patience can lead to eventual recovery. However, choosing our emotions and the way we react to pain is not very simple.
Read the next section to learn how to better control emotions to improve overall wellbeing and reduce flare-ups.
Radical Acceptance and Healing
Taking radical acceptance of a diagnosis will allow for a better reaction to flare-ups, triggers, and daily life stressors.
To take radical acceptance means to view life as it is, with no judgment. By letting go of judgment, a person can reduce stress and overwhelming thoughts that are caused by comparing the past to the present or worrying about the future. Realizing that life happens, and we cannot control what others do and what becomes done to us.
Practicing this mindset shift can help calm the mind. A chronic pain Warrior can now become the observer and confidant to their mind and body, rather than being the victim that is being attacked by life itself.
Attitude Can Change Everything
As mentioned earlier, the way we perceive life affects our painful experiences. Attitudes that overwhelm the mind and cause it to feel threatened by the way we look at the world, address stressors, and respond to flare-ups can train the brain to think it is not in a safe space to heal. Constant negative reactions and thoughts about life as it is now, how life will be affected due to a diagnosis, and comparisons to the past, will hinder the ability to recover and manage symptoms.
Enjoy this quote from Charles Swindoll that inspired me to write this blog in relation to pain management:
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes”
- Attitudes by Charles Swindoll