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Why I Need to Focus More on My Achievements as a Person With Chronic Pain

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I had a few days where I had to leave my comfort zone and just relax and rest. If you know me, I’m not a fan of resting and being still for too long. I’m the definition of an over-thinker and having an invisible illness such as chronic pain has only intensified my roller coaster of thoughts.

After 10 years of searching for a cure for my chronic pain and finally finding a way to manage it and live a life that makes me happy, it’s very difficult for me to step away from the routine I am so accustomed to. My day usually begins around five in the morning with stretches and exercise. Of all the tools I use to manage chronic pain, exercise is definitely one of my favorites and most useful. It helps with my chronic pain and my subsequent anxiety. I stay busy throughout the day, which is quite easy to do with a 4-year-old daughter, work and running a home that I am proud of.

My other favorite tool for managing my chronic pain naturally is the utilization of distractions. I train my brain to not think about pain and am usually quite successful in this exercise.

However, for the past few days, I’ve been forced to rest in bed, which on one hand has been difficult. I want to play with my daughter, run my errands, make dinner and finish the damn laundry that has been sitting in the laundry room for two days. I don’t enjoy being vulnerable and relying on other people to help me and do things for me. I begin to feel guilty and frustrated, and the little control freak buried inside me comes out in the silliest ways one can imagine. For instance, I find it difficult to walk into my daughter’s playroom because I know it is not organized the “Jessica” way.

On the other hand, the past few days have been a great lesson for me. I have had to let things go and find distractions that have nothing to do with exercise and/or activity. I have caught up on my favorite television shows and books, and I even went back to my gratitude journal and began doing the exercises in the book “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. 

I’ve read this inspiring book but have never attempted to go through the workbook that accompanies it. The first three assignments were quite simple for me. I was asked to write down 50 things I am grateful for like having food in the fridge to being blessed with a beautiful, happy daughter.

In second assignment, I had to write down the five things I want in my life more than anything. Number one on my list was to have more children (no brainer there).

The third exercise was to write down the things I wanted to work on within myself to find more inner joy. Ironically, this was the easiest exercise the workbook asked of me. I wrote down so many things that I ran out of room on the allotted page. 

Sadly, the fourth exercise was much more difficult than I thought it would be. The exercise asked me to write down five things or more that I loved about myself. I came up with two right away: being empathetic and funny. I even felt a little guilty about writing down “funny.”

It took me longer to find five things I am sincerely proud of about myself than it did to find 50 things I was grateful for. No one else needs to read my simple abundance workbook, so why was I so hesitant to write exactly how I felt about myself? 

Yes, there are things I want to work on and am working on, but there are more than two things about myself that I am proud of. However, I felt a ridiculous sense of guilt putting them down on paper. I learned I need to own the things I feel good about regarding myself and my life. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, especially with chronic pain. I have a lot to be proud of and shouldn’t feel ashamed for feeling good about those things in my life. I focus more on the things I need to work on than the goals I have already achieved.

I believe this to be true: No matter where we are in our journey with chronic pain, or life in general, we should be more focused on our gifts than our downfalls. The more we focus on the good in ourselves, the easier it will be to work on the things we know need some help with.

None of us are perfect, and chronic pain can make life incredibly difficult at times, but we all have special gifts that we need to start putting more focus on.

Follow this journey on No One Gets Flowers for Chronic Pain.

Originally published: October 4, 2016
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