When pain is chronic, when it won’t leave no matter what we do, we often blame ourselves. What is wrong with me, we ask, that I can’t heal? Maybe I haven’t done enough, haven’t tried hard enough, must have made a mistake somewhere along the way to have ended up in this pain. This is all wrong, life is wrong, and maybe I am wrong.
While disliking pain is understandable, it’s important that we don’t transfer that dislike, anger, and even hatred onto ourselves. It’s not conducive to healing and can serve to keep us stuck in both physical and emotional pain.
So how do we move on from there?
I found that the most helpful thing I could do for my well-being and to support my overall healing was to find ways to move away from the anger, resentment, blame, and fear of living with pain. I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to heal my physical pain when I was in so much emotional pain. I made a conscious effort to renew my sense of joy and pleasure in life and not wait for pain to leave before I did that. In fact, I felt it was imperative not to wait so that I wouldn’t slide into depression, hopelessness, and despair. I chose to renew my sense of self worth and self trust through loving myself more, even in the midst of pain.
Below are are listed the approaches that worked for me. I call them "steps" to delineate them from each other and to give you a kind of game plan for getting back in touch with yourself if that is needed, but they do not have to happen in any particular order. Some will be easier than others, but I have found all of them to be necessary ingredients in coming back to a state of grace within myself while still living with pain.
Step One: Don't Let Pain Define You
Step Two: Extend Kindness to Yourself
- ask for help when you need it
- rest often
- reduce or throw away your to-do list
- allow your body and emotions the time they need to heal and trust yourself in that
- acknowledge what you’re going through and give yourself a break from trying to keep up with everyone else
Step Three: Know That Healing is Your Current Job
Step Four: Extend Kindness to Your Pain
Step Five: Enjoy What is Here Now
Step Six: Give Yourself Credit
Step Seven: Take Yourself off the Hook
Finding ways to love yourself through pain not only makes the path a little easier and less stressful, it can help lift physical symptoms. When you come through the other side you will have gained something valuable: wisdom, compassion, insights, kindness, and greater trust in life and appreciation for who you are and the journey you have made.