All of us living with pain have to become masters at this. We have to learn to walk the path in the middle of extremes.
How Much is Too Much?
We learn to live as positively as possible, while not pretending everything is fine, (never talking about our pain or expressing it) or going to the other end of the spectrum and becoming someone who lives as a victim awash in powerlessness.
We learn to walk the middle path of honoring our emotional selves and our feelings about being in pain and how that limits our lives. We learn that shoving them back down again can just cause more pain later.
Saying Yes, Saying No
We learn to be able to find ways to continue to participate in life while still living within our physical limits, somehow finding a balance between over doing it and making ourselves worse or becoming a shut-away.
We have to learn to say no without becoming overly negative. Instead, we learn to say it from a place of self awareness and self respect. No, I don’t want any more advice, thanks. No, I will not be available today. No, I do not choose that treatment right now.
And we learn to say yes to ourselves. Yes, to taking it slow. Yes, to being alone when we need to. Yes, to help when it’s offered. Yes, to doing things that feel nurturing and healing. Yes, to what we need in the moment, even if it’s an unpopular choice with others.
Becoming Masters of Balance
In a way, it’s our spiritual path. Becoming more aware of ourselves and our own needs in balance with those around us and in balance with the demands from our condition.
All of us who live with chronic pain become adepts at walking that middle road. We become masters of balance, saying no when it matters and saying yes to ourselves, which matters even more.
Sarah Anne Shockley has lived with nerve pain from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome since 2007. She co-produced and directed Dancing From the Inside Out, a multi-award winning documentary on AXIS Dance Company (integrating wheelchair and able-bodied dance). She is the author of The Pain Companion, The Light at The Center of Pain, Living Better While Living With Pain, and 30 Days of Living Better While Living With Pain.