Seeing Chronic Pain Flare Ups As Learning Opportunities
August 19, 2016 by Steve Grinstead
August 19, 2016
Whenever I experience pain, I find it very helpful to ask: “What is my pain trying to tell me?” I believe that pain is trying to tell me that something is wrong and that I had better find out what exactly is wrong and find a way to fix it. Today I want to see my pain flare ups as learning opportunities. Please check out my video blog below and then read the remainder of this post.
To understand the language of pain, I first must understand how the pain echoes and reverberates between my physical, psychological, and social dimensions of my life. Pain is truly a total human experience that affects all aspects of human functioning.
When it comes to my pain management, knowledge is power. Once I know what is really going on with my body and mind I can start to take action to effectively manage my pain. In fact, I’ve found that it’s crucial to stop believing pain is my enemy and embrace it as my friend. I know this is easier said than done. Many people I’ve shared this with have looked at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that if they want to have the kind of relief that I’ve learned to have they must make peace with their pain and that pain is their friend. They tell me—very strongly in some cases—that they can’t buy it, but nevertheless it is true.
My Three Most Important Action Steps
1. Stop Believing Pain Is My Enemy!
2. Make Peace With My Pain!
3. Start Embracing Pain As My Friend!
I have been living with my own chronic pain condition for over thirty two years now. I still have periodic episodes of pain flare ups where I need to put into practice all that I’ve learned. Like everyone living with a chronic pain condition some days are better than others, but even on the bad days, one thing is certain – pain does not control my life.
This peacemaking was something I had to resolve for myself early on in my own chronic pain management journey. I always ask people suffering with chronic pain this question – are you willing to make peace with your pain or do you want to continue to suffer?
In essence what I’m asking them is: are you willing to do what is necessary to make pain your friend and move on with your life? As you might imagine and perhaps you’re thinking this yourself, they looked at me like I’ve lost my mind and have told me so in no uncertain terms! Nevertheless the question opened the door for a deeper level of healing to begin.
When I was willing to consider that my pain could be more of an ally than an enemy, the next step to developing an effective chronic pain management plan was to learn all I could about my pain and how to intervene in an appropriate way that continually improves the quality of my life.
Below are just some of the non-medication based pain flare up activities I use or have used over the past 32 years—though not at the same time and not necessarily in this order.
Meditation And Relaxation Emotional Management Massage Therapy Physical Therapy Chiropractic Treatment Acupuncture Biofeedback, Hypnosis Yoga/Tai Chi Diet/Nutrition Prayer Sweat Lodges Self-Help Groups TENS Units, Rolfing/Hellar Sleep Hygiene Music Swimming Hydrotherapy Pain Journaling Art Therapy, Acupressure, Ice / Heat Guided Imagery
There are many more choices out there including safe and effective medication and medical interventions. Find what’s right for you. Make a list of three or four of these you are willing to learn how to effectively implement and find a couple of accountability partners to help you.
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