Finding What to Celebrate in the New Year, Even in Chronic Pain


It’s a new year. And for some of us with a disability and chronic pain, that can be a mixed blessing. We want to feel hopeful with others about what the new year may bring, but we can’t help noticing it’s not just another year. It’s another year in pain.

We can find it hard not to feel a little despondent. What do we have to celebrate, after all? We’re still alive, and that’s probably good, but we may have days we almost wish we weren’t. We’re still dealing with pain, we haven’t found the answers, and our healing is moving way too slowly, if at all. How long can this go on?

I’m Letting Things Slide Off My Plate

I know a new year may not feel like a true beginning for us, but there’s always an influx of positive energy at the start of any year. How can we tap into it when we’re still in pain?

Instead of asking ourselves why we’re not further along, why it seems like we’re stuck in the same place (or even worse off), maybe we need to take stock differently.

Maybe it isn’t how much more we can do, but how much less we demand of ourselves. Wouldn’t that be different?

Because for most of us in pain, we’re already doing everything we can to heal. Maybe it’s not so much about adding things onto our plate that we hope to accomplish this year in the realms of healing, but letting things slide off that no longer serve us.

Is This Really a Beginning?

So here’s my list of what I’m dropping off at the beginning of this new year, and I encourage you to make one too:

  • Self-recrimination and self-doubt.
  • Anything and everything about being a better person or pleasing others that really doesn’t serve my need to rest and take care of myself.
  • My schedule for healing, and hence my disappointments when it hasn’t happened by a certain time.

Here’s my list of what I’m adding in this year:

  • More kindness toward myself
  • More real, deep rest (giving myself permission to do nothing a lot more often)
  • More self-appreciation (living in pain is hard, I’m already doing great just getting up in the morning!)

Let’s make 2018 easier on ourselves by allowing some of our “have to’s” to fall away and only adding in what truly serves us as we move through this demanding and complex journey of healing our pain. Yes, this can be a new year for us too, if we choose.

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Getty image by Anya Berkut.


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