That’s not a bad thing if it gets us through another day. But sometimes we get stuck in our story and can’t get to the next step or level in healing. Getting stuck can make us think there may not be a next step, or a next anything.
Here are some of the common tales we tell ourselves, and thoughts on how to get unstuck when they stop serving their purpose.
It's Only A Flesh Wound
But we can’t stay in denial forever if we want to move on in life. We have to face our situation head on, even if it means accepting the fact that moving forward means we are moving forward with pain for a time. Maybe a long time.
Keep My Seat, I'll Be Right Back
On the other hand, if we sit in this story overly long, we may be avoiding some things we really need to deal with: That life has changed, that we may need to make some accommodations for the pain we’re living with, that we may have to look at how pain is affecting our work life and our relationships over the long haul.
We may also be ignoring medical or alternative approaches that could really help us because we’re choosing the story that we’re not going to be doing this for long, so there’s no need to develop a long-term plan for living with pain.
It's kind of a tricky business - how to create a story that is both positive and realistic at the same time. We want to believe there's hope for moving beyond this soon, at the same time that we avoid ignoring what really does need to be dealt with right now.
The Answer Is Just Around The Corner
When we tell ourselves this tale, we could be missing out on all the small, but important, things we can do right now to increase our well being because we’re absorbed with searching for the one true answer: Rest a lot, drink a lot of water, eat healthfully, laugh more, stay as stress free as possible, stay connected with friends, journal or make music or dance to express what we are going through and not let it pool up inside.
We don't have to let go of hope for new developmnets and possibilities on the horizon, of course, but we also want to remember that healing is an everyday kind of thing that often happens in small increments over time.
There Is No Answer
This is when we need to remind ourselves that there is probably no single answer to chronic pain, that the answer is – no matter how hard this can be to accept and live with – what we are living day by day. Our life has to become the answer, even as we keep open to new possibilities for recovering more of our functionality and more of ourselves as we move forward in life.
Pain Is Bigger Than Me
Yes, it may be everywhere we go right now, but it is not the totality of who we are.
We want to be careful not to confuse ourselves with our pain, and to remember to find ways to experience pleasures and joys alongside of it wherever we can.Pain is an unpleasant experience we’re having, but it is within our experience of life, and it is not all of life or all of us.
Stories That Heal
Maybe it becomes the story of how healing isn’t some unknown point in the future, dependent upon one right answer, but what we do everyday. It becomes the story of finding ourselves again when we thought we were lost in the pain, and the story of allowing our healing to take the time it needs while maintaining the balance between acceptance of our current limitations and positive action toward a less painful future.
It becomes a story that focuses more on where we’re headed than what’s wrong right now. And it’s a story we’re free to modify, enlarge, or swap out for a new one as soon as it becomes outdated or restrictive.
Sarah Anne Shockley has lived with nerve pain from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome since 2007. She is the author of The Pain Companion: Everyday Wisdom For Living With and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain and Living Better While Living With Pain. She is a staff columnist for Pain News Network.