It’s easy and entirely understandable to feel somewhat defeated when you’re living with chronic pain. When it hurts to move – and even to rest – it can be very extremely hard to enjoy life.
And although I understand and literally feel your pain, it’s imperative that you never, ever, ever give up. If you abandon pursuing activities, finding happiness, and setting and achieving goals, you let the pain win. You give away all your power to your illness. Once this happens, your chronic pain begins to define you, setting in motion a vicious cycle that can make it very hard to make any headway towards those things in life that really matter.
Of course, all of that is easier said than done. Saying ‘keep going’ is automatic for those who aren’t living with pain. The questions you need to ask are: How you can keep going despite your discomfort? How can you push yourself forward when you feel like quitting? The answer is to have confidence, perseverance and the knowledge that you can do it. The key is to give yourself lots of ‘little wins’ throughout the day that amount to noticeable results.
Changing Your Expectations and Goals
If you are in serious pain every time you try to run, then you probably aren’t going to be the next Usain Bolt. But rather than dwelling on the things you can’t do, you should instead fixate on the things you can. Maybe a walk around the block or from the chair to the couch. If you can’t walk, crawl. And, if you can’t crawl, perhaps you can push yourself in a wheelchair (or get someone to help). If physical activity is not an option (and I empathize completely), try to learn a new language or write an article. The key is that you can do something – anything – to make yourself proud.
Gamify Your Progress
Just as you might change what you do for fun or a sense of achievement, you also need to recalibrate the bar as to what you consider an accomplishment. Setting small goals and logging your process can allow you to turn your recovery and pain management into a fun and exciting game, whether that means counting steps or taking your medication and supplements on time. Either way, there are apps like Strive, which rewards you with points for creating a virtual world when you walk, and Mango Health, which enables you to accrue points and gift cards for taking your medications on time. This may sound simplistic, but gamification has proven results when it comes to both the psychological aspect of recovery and adherence to a routine.
Hold On to Hope
Finally, and perhaps most importantly: hold on to hope. While you might never be completely free of chronic pain, it’s almost guaranteed that there exist thousands of treatment methodologies, medications and exercises you haven’t yet tried. Keep looking. Keep trying new things and you might find you still have a shot at improving. Plus, you’ll have something even more important – a positive outlook, higher self-esteem and a glow that results from knowing that you’re living your life on purpose and making the most of your situation, the best way you can.
Hustle on, warriors, hustle on!