Living With Chronic Pain

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By Janice Feuerhelm

Chronic pain affects millions of people worldwide. Chronic pain is different than acute pain. Chronic pain is pain that continues long after the original cause. Chronic pain also has a psychological component that affects every area of one's life. The challenge of living with chronic pain can create depression, difficulty with family/friend relationships, loss of job, financial losses and a loss of self-worth.

During my counseling experiences with individuals living with chronic pain, I have discovered that there are key healthy attitudes that help someone learn how to cope and live with chronic pain. I teach persons with chronic pain how to adopt these attitudes and have had the pleasure of witnessing many reclaim their life again, in spite of chronic pain.

The following are three attitudes that CAN make a difference when living with chronic pain:

Optimism -- It truly does make a difference if you "see the glass half empty" or "half-full." People who are optimists try to find the positive in all situations. I recently had someone tell me that after their injury, they were able to discover new hobbies because they could no longer do the same hobbies as prior to their injury. They discovered a hobby that eventually led to a new career. I know it is a challenge to seek the positive in every situation. However, I have seen relationships grow stronger because of pain. I have seen families rediscover what's really important in their lives. I have seen people "slow down and smell the roses" because of their pain. Part of having an optimistic attitude is also believing that one can go on in spite of pain.

Determination - is another healthy attitude. Determination is an attitude that gives someone confidence to carry on. It is the attitude that says "I will not give up"; "I will not allow this pain to take over my life." Determination allows one to persevere. It is about finding new ways of doing things and not giving up. Determination allows one to separate their core self-worth from their pain. Determination is about seeking and finding hope in any situation.