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Overcoming the emotions accompanied by chronic pain

Updated on December 27, 2012

How to be a victor and not a victim

Let's face it, pain is difficult: especially for those who must deal with it on a daily basis. Believe me, I know. For past six years, I have walked through the valleys of despair and depression. I know how debilitating of chronic pain. Yet, I have refused to let my pain claim me as a victim. I will not let my pain define who I am as a person--rather I have disciplined myself to let my person define my pain.

Often times, I believe people do not know how to cope with their pain--a lesson I am still learning. There are a host of emotions working inside the person: anger; anxiety; depression; frustration; hopelessness, helplessness to name a few...the emotions tend to overwhelm and, yes, override the emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being of a person who must endure the sad effects of pain. It is hard to really discern what it is more dreadful--the pain or the emotions that develop as a result or possibly both. Since people do not understand the struggles that plague the soul, people with chronic pain begin to question whether their pain is real or imaginary: they doubt their existence as a person; and they to seclude themselves first from their social networks and then the mainstream of society.

What is a person to do? How are they to deal with the difficulties before them? From experience, I have learned to first sort out what emotion is dominant. Is it anger: fear; anxiety; depression. Once you have defined which emotion is the dominant emotion, then a person can define a plan of strategy. For instance, let's say anger is at the root of the problem. Ask: what is it that is making me angry? Is it that you can not do the things you once did? Is it that your quality of life has suffered as you have suffered? Do you define your self-worth as a net result of both? If yes, what can you do to change your attitude before your self-esteem is completely deflated?

Well, years ago, I was a very active father with my daughters. Both girls were very athletic. Both played fast pitch softball: both were good at what they did. My oldest daughter was a pitcher. I would literally spend hours working with her form. Some days she was on her game--other days she was off. I remember encouraging her to learn from the last pitch thrown. There was nothing she could do to change something that already took place, but what she could do is reevaluate what she did wrong and correct. So, what does this have to do with chronic pain. It is simply this...the field of play is not so much played on the diamond, or the court...it is played in the mind. Once you permit chronic pain to take you...you are already at a disadvantage.

Rather than focusing on what you can't do anymore; focus on what you are capable of doing. Furthermore, take what knowledge you do have in a particular skill and begin to teach those who are willing to learn. For instance, I love to build...literally build things. Physically, however, it is demanding. I have learned to recruit my wife, my daughters, and my friends to help me with projects around my house, their houses, or somebody else's house. My job description is to prepare, plan, and explain how things must be done. It is amazing how you can a person with very little knowledge about a particular project and see it to completion. Finally, and this is the most difficult, you must admit that, yes, your are not in control of your body...yes, your body has a mechanism within it that dictates when you have gone too much...pretty much like a car when the gas light comes on...listen to your body, but always remember that while the pain may take control of your body, you refuse to let it to control of your mind.

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