What does someone in pain really want? I think, deep down, they just want to feel better. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it? You bet. While conceptually this seems pretty straightforward, one must dig a bit deeper to find the complexities of simply feeling better.
Most folks with chronic pain believe that the way to feeling better is to get rid of their pain. On the surface, this would seem to make sense. If the pain is gone, then so should all the negativity that comes along with it, thereby getting us to the place of feeling better. This basic assumption typically dictates the decisions made by those in pain as well as the recommendations made by those who treat pain.
The focus, goal, and endpoint for all those involved in this process are to make the pain go away. Every treatment, every test, every doctor visit is done with the hope that a solution will be found that ultimately takes the pain away. Both patients and doctors typically see this as the necessary process that must take place, but often to the point of forgetting that the real goal is simply feeling better.
What I have come to learn over the years is that this basic assumption is not only an unnecessary step to feeling better, but can actually drive folks further away from obtaining relief. Most chronic pain sufferers have learned the hard way that there aren’t lasting magic solutions out there to cure their chronic pain. They have also learned that the medications that they thought would make their pain go away really don’t do such a good job of that, either. When everything is said and done, spending lots of time, energy, and money on treatments that don’t eliminate the pain forever can be an exacerbating experience that will only make things worse.
What is needed is a major cognitive shift toward the realization that relief or feeling better can and will occur even if the pain is still there. Once those struggling with chronic pain accept this concept, then simple endeavors like going for an outdoor walk, laughing and making others laugh can start to have the same positive effects as they have for everyone else. Suffering, which is an emotional reaction to the pain we experience, dissipates as we rethink our strategy for feeling better.
Because sometimes living abundantly is our best medicine.