We may feel victimized by our conditions, pharmaceuticals, invasive procedures, the impersonality of most institutions, or our own bodies. We may feel we are at the mercy of an interlocking system of agencies and organizations, one or all of which may not present a caring or compassionate face.
Medical and insurance forms, appointments, tests, procedures, and legal hearings don’t take into account that we are not at our best mentally and emotionally, that we are in terrible pain, or that we have very little stamina, yet we may feel blamed if we are not on top of the situation or able to answer questions clearly and accurately.
Sometimes, being ill or injured feels like it has become a crime committed by us.
Believing that others are responsible (or guilty), places them in the position of power and you become the victim. I declared myself at the center of my own emotional and physical well-being and recovery. I decided not to accept an outside source as the final authority, no matter how credible. I knew that I was the one who would ultimately heal myself anyway, regardless of the method used.
That decision alone, while not bringing with it an instantaneous and miraculous cure, at least afforded a measure of relief and a feeling of having more access to different choices rather than living entirely at the mercy of outside authorities and systems.
Noticing What We Can Control
I noticed the decisions I was already making and congratulated myself for them. I also looked at the ones I could take back that I had handed over to others because I didn’t know I could make them for myself, or I hadn’t felt I had the knowledge or strength to make them.
Instead of following along with everything suggested by medical practitioners without question, I took more authority back for myself and became part of the decisions about medications and treatments.
Choosing Our Own Healing Path
I researched alternative therapies, natural healing, recent research and the latest medical breakthroughs. I read blogs and stories about how other people were coping with my condition, and how some had made improvements or found ways to cure themselves.
I looked into what I could can do for yourself: how improving my diet could help healing, how I could think more positively, what herbs and supplements might be beneficial, how I could reduce the amount of stress I was under, and how I could possibly get more restful sleep.
Some of these things made only small changes in the amount of pain I was in, but it doing them gave me a greater sense of direction in terms of finding ways to live with and ease pain. It felt empowering to make my own choices instead of putting my condition and my pain at the helm all the time.
Living with constant pain can make you feel powerless and it’s easy to feel that you have lost control over your own destiny, but thinking of yourself as a victim of pain or a victim of circumstances does very little to help you move toward whatever healing is possible for you.
Deciding to take control of whatever is in your power to make choices about, taking responsibility for your own healing path, and making conscious choices toward increased well-being on a daily basis can help relieve feelings of victimization and powerlessness and allows us to be more fully available to whatever new information and new possibilities may come our way.
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.