Skip to main content

Living with Chronic Pain: Discovering Gratitude

Living with Chronic Pain: Discovering Gratitude "It can be difficult to feel thankful when you live with chronic pain.  Because pain may interfere with important areas of life, you may have suffered some difficult losses. Over time, you may have become more resentful and less thankful.   But, if you take the time to notice, you may find that there are relationships, activities, and experiences to be grateful for, even though you have chronic pain. With practice, you can discover gratitude again and experience the many benefits of feeling thankful."

I know what you are thinking:
As soon as someone suggests you should think about all the good things and things you should be grateful for... you might want to bitch slap them. Especially if in that moment you are in a great deal of pain.

Well, as the wise poets of Monty Python once said:

It is in fact easy to be resentful and bitter. Or feel like you lost a lot of your life to pain. Or compromised on a lot of things. Given up on a lot of things. You can see how things could have been a great deal different. But they aren't. So we do have to deal with that fact. And part of that is just acknowledging one awesome or positive fact every day about your life, not the what if life.

Fact is it takes something like three positive thoughts to replace one negative one. So I think those of us with chronic illnesses and chronic pain face an uphill battle as it is. It is difficult. We have a fine facade sometimes, but it is difficult to keep our inward mood balanced and up and maintained. We know all the things to boost our moods... listen to music, take a walk, sleep well, eat well... and more tips and tricks. But it can be a real struggle. Yet one thing is to simple reflect on our day and note one thing we are thankful or grateful about it, or our lives, at that moment and write that down. Does not seem too much to ask in the scheme of things right? Like we often say 'it is a bad day, not a bad life' so we must be able to pull out one thing a day about our lives we are grateful for.

Drs. Robert Emmons and Robin Stern study the therapeutic effects of gratitude. They say that gratitude is “… an affirming of goodness or “good things” in one’s life and the recognition that the sources of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self”.

According to Drs. Randy and Lori  Sansone, feeling thankful is: “The appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation”.Dr. Alex Wood and colleagues define gratitude as: “Involving a life orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in life”.

And basically exercising this has merit. "The idea of gratitude as a “general state of thankfulness”  or a “life orientation” is interesting. It suggests a way of life in which you regularly focus on what is positive and less on what is negative, on what you can do  rather than on what you can’t do, and on what you have rather than on what you don’t have. People who genuinely feel grateful on a day-to-day basis tend to report greater well-being, better functioning, and less depression. The better you feel overall, the better you will manage your pain."

How do you cultivate your inner gratitude? Some people have a gratitude diary. And they write something they are thankful for in it each day. Helps you focus on something positive you get from each day. And it can literally be anything. Today I was thankful my spouse cooked supper. And that he brought me home a coffee and a chocolate chip cookie on his way home from work.... just because. When he does those small things just because, it means he is thinking of me and it gives me that warm fuzzy feeling. And I am grateful for a considerate spouse.

And here is "a Gratitude Worksheet. Take your time and work your way slowly through the worksheet.  Click here to see an example."

It is a good idea to write it down as well. There is something to contemplating what we are grateful for and then every day writing down something. Getting into that practice. It might be for you the perfect time is first thing in the morning. For me, not grateful for too much then. Don't really have a functioning brain. So for me the perfect time is in the evening as I am preparing to go to bed.

A few of mine the last week have been...

I am grateful the weather as turned nice. Seems we have a wee break from the winter. Thanks winter!

I am grateful for low pain days. I suspect the fine, stable weather might be why I am thankful for a rather nice low pain day today. A nice pain free gap too before the migraine hit. And when it did, it was rather tolerable. Much thanks for tolerable days!

I am grateful for some good tunes. I am trying out ways to relax before bed and today mellowed out with some sleepy time tea and retro 80's tunes. Put me in a downright good mood. And nice and sleepy too. 

I am grateful my spouse cooked supper today. To be honest I was pretty knocked out today and really could not think of anything to make. So thanks my awesome man! You rock!

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Signs the pain is getting the best of you

100 Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

There was a site that had this and I had linked to it on Tumblr but it is gone. So I had to hunt down someone who found my post and posted the whole thing in a forum. Anyway it is around but I'm posting it here so I will not have to hunt it down to reference it. Now we all know the major symptoms are the wide-spread pain, but our pain isn't just muscle pain... it can be nerve types of pain as well, and the fatigue and the insomnia. And even among symptoms there are some far more frequent than others, but it should be said we have categories... like the cognitive dysfunction, which is a broad one that has more than one symptom and we often just say fibrofog. The insomnia... more than one sleeping disorder. So the list is interesting.

__ Fatigue, made worse by physical exertion or stress
__ Activity level decreased to less than 50% of pre-illness activity level
__ Recurrent flu-like illness
__ Sore throat
__ Hoarseness
__ Tender or swollen lymph nodes (glands), especiall…

Getting through the high intensity pain flares #Blogboost

The crowded me out of the brain. Making no room for anything else. Distraction was impossible. You feel almost frantic with the pain but must be still.

What do you do? To get through it when you have no distraction?

I ask me this as I am really in the depths of a 9 level frantic level of pain right now. Hoping maybe some writing will be a distraction, but it isn't. As I said, the pain crowds the brain. I have to focus real hard to write and my head isn't clear. Too much pain to focus well. Things become quite difficult to do. 

I will say this: We cannot function. We have to just cope with the pain.

But we are Immersed in the pain, we what do we do?
We can and should rest and get through it the best we can. Here are some of the things I do to get through it.

Relaxation breathing: I can't meditate when in high levels of pain. It just makes me think about how much pain I am in. Just not a good idea. But I do do relaxation breathing. I close my eyes. I focus on my breathing. I even…