We have the great honor and great privilege of being human. However being that we are only human, we must come to terms with our own mortality and our own limitations. We must treat ourselves with love, respect, care, compassion, and grace, even when faced with aspects of ourselves that are difficult to appreciate.
When there is something that is causing us pain or discomfort, or if something is limiting us in any way, it is only natural to want to find an immediate solution. While some problems may be easily fixed, unfortunately for others, there is simply no quick fix and in some cases, no fix at all.
This may sound disheartening and this may sound dismal or hopeless, but just because there may be no available solution, does not mean that the only option is to suffer. This concept proves especially beneficial and pertinent to those who experience chronic pain or suffer from chronic illness.
We all deserve to feel our best and to function as the best version of ourselves. And to function as the best version of ourselves, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to accept ourselves as we are and to not hold ourselves to unreasonable expectations or demands. We are after all only human.
We must view ourselves as perfectly imperfect and remain free from judgment. Don’t push, don’t force, don’t demand change. Instead, acknowledge, appreciate, and accept.
Living with chronic pain or illness can seem like a life of inescapable suffering, a burden too heavy to carry, and completely intolerable. But you don’t have to live in this negative frame of mind.
While a mindful approach to chronic pain and illness is not a cure, it can be a maintenance tool that can drastically enhance your quality of life.
As a sufferer of migraines and endometriosis, I have found myself all too often thinking things like, I can’t do this, I can’t live like this, this will never end, I will always be in pain, this is the worst pain I have ever experienced, I don’t want to live like this anymore….
What happens when we get caught in these negative thought patterns is that we begin to fixate of what is wrong, we begin to panic, and our mind begins to suffer along with the body rather than guiding the body through the suffering.
Negative thinking is hard to overcome but if we can begin to train the mind to be a place free of judgement, to be a calm center for control, and to be a rational zone for positivity, we can greatly decrease the amount of physical suffering we endure.
The first step is to simply breathe. By oxygenating the blood, we flood the body with endorphins, which naturally help to decrease the amount stress and pain we experience.
Inhale…. Exhale….Inhale ….Exhale. To calm the mind and stop your thoughts from racing say this to yourself as you allow deep breaths to fill the body.
Put a count to your breath, 3 counts in and 3 counts out.
Imagine inhaling peace, calm, comfort, and acceptance… Exhale pain, negativity, stress, and anxiety.
Once we begin to control the breath and use it to our advantage we can then begin to meditate on something more positive. Find the good around you and let go of those things that you cannot control.
Call to mind something for which you are grateful today.
Recall a treasured memory.
Imagine a picturesque or soothing scene.
Find something beautiful that you have taken for granted (something in nature, something in your own home)
What is something that you have done that you are proud of?
What defines you? Truly defines you? Who are you, for you are surly more than your pain, your illness, or your disability?
If you are having trouble calming the mind and body with breath or positive thought, try a beneficial distraction. When we approach ‘distraction’ in a mindful way, we are not telling ourselves we are not allowed to feel a certain way, we are simply giving our self the opportunity to consciously turn our attention to something more beneficial.
Go for a walk. Actively look for the beauty and peace that surrounds you in nature.
Call a friend.
Read a book.
While we might not be able to fully cure our chronic pain or illness, there are often various things we find that can help ease the symptoms or severity. Find what works for you. Maybe it’s mild exercise. Perhaps yoga or stretches help ease pain and discomfort. Maybe a massage, or a warm bath prove beneficial. Perhaps giving yourself extra time to rest or making certain dietary or lifestyle changes can help in some way. The key is to actively seek out any triggers that you may be aware of, and then explore different methods of alleviating the pain or discomfort as best you can.
Just because we live with chronic pain or illness, does not mean that we must allow it to control us. We are beautiful and worthy and when we approach our limitations with compassion, we can achieve a better quality of life and overall wellbeing.