Many people will say that what’s worse than the pain is how pain has
robbed them of their ability to engage in meaningful activities, like
going to family picnics, school events, reunions, social dinners, or
working outside the home—all of the things that once brought them
pleasure in life. Over time, people may lose their connections,
meaning, and aspects of their identity. And, without those important
doses of pleasure, pain grows exponentially. As people withdraw from
life because of the pain it becomes harder to focus on anything else.
Empowering life beyond pain is all about reconnecting with the aspects
of your life that are meaningful to you. It’s also about having
compassion for where you are right now.
Maybe you were a competitive athlete and because of your chronic
pain you are no longer able to compete or exercise strenuously. There
may be a tremendous amount of suffering in the loss of your former
life and abilities. Empowerment is about focusing on what you can do,
right now, and working to expand that. Maybe you can sit outside and
enjoy the peacefulness of nature. Maybe you can walk in the grass
barefoot and experience movement and sensation in your body in a new
way and build an appreciation for that. You can learn to work with
your body and respect its limits, such that you are able to be more
active on a consistent basis and avoid the “crashes” that come from
trying to push beyond your physical limits.
Empowering life beyond pain is an active process. Rather than
waiting for pain to get better or relying on doctors to fix pain, it’s
about moving forward with what you can do, right now. Setting
meaningful and achievable goals, learning and delivering good
self-care practices, using skills to self-manage pain and stress, and
learning to be kind to your body and yourself as life moves at a
slower pace than you expected are key to effectively managing pain.
The very act of engaging in active pain management shifts your energy,
intention, and mental focus towards the positive.