One major thing I’ve noticed about being in chronic pain, especially as it started to get worse, was how quickly I lost myself. From what I’ve read, I’m not alone in this feeling, and to be honest, it probably isn’t that surprising. To go from being an able-bodied adult, who loves to be active and adventurous, to suddenly not being able to do all the things you like is difficult, to say the least. That self-love, and self-reliance all adults are supposed to have (though many, including those who are well, don’t necessarily have them) became harder and harder to have. Instead, dependence on relationship (romantic and non-romantic) and a bit of self-hatred (the thinking that I must suck, since my body does) overflows the brain. There are tons of posts I could do (and probably will at some point) on self-love, self-care, self-awareness, etc, in regards to dealing with chronic pain, but the one I want to start with is simple: how to retrain your brain back to its old way of thinking, or perhaps, for some, this is just developing a new way of thinking altogether.
Image from: http://rebloggy.com/dinosaur%20doodle%20self-care/search/bestmatch/page/2
I get it, affirmations can seem lame, and to be totally honest, they kind of are. I could sit here all day and tell myself I’m beautiful, I’m smart, I’m kind, I can get through anything, but it’s not going to change how I feel about anything. That is, unless I start to believe it. Saying the affirmation is the first step, truly believing what you’ve said is the second, and much more difficult step. This becomes even harder, when in addition to chronic pain (or rather, a coexisting symptom of chronic pain) is anxiety and/or depression. Talking to a therapist or psychiatrist is also a good idea if you’re experiencing these types of emotions. I do, and it helps deal with the underlying issues that causes these feeling to come up, even if the issue is just, “I’m in pain all the time!” Belief that saying affirmations will help is important. My therapist also has suggested using affirmations. No one is saying that you have to say them to yourself everyday, though as I quickly found out, if you start saying them regularly, even once a day, they will become part of your mind’s daily mantra without even trying.
The extent of my painting talents.
There are so many you can use, and my suggestion is to pick ones that you relate to. I tried out a bunch, and even use an app called Pacifica, which has affirmations as part of it’s “relaxation” and mindfulness section. I came up with the above three myself, and even painted them on a dollar store canvas, and put it in my room. Every time I think the pain is too much, or I’m having anxiety, I try to remember these, and to say them to myself. I am (strong). I can (get through this). I will (live a successful and fulfilling life). Affirmations are not going to cure any pain, emotional or physical, but they can be a great part of a much larger healing plan. Just be open to a mindfulness journey on your chronic pain path. It could be more helpful than you’d think.