“The problem with complaining about your health is that it tends to draw us to the actual experience of illness…” A complaint Free World
Language is everything to me.
The way I think and speak and especially the way I talk to myself about pain becomes ever more important. Over the years, I have worked with clients on the words they use to express their physical and emotional pain. What makes them feel worse or better.
This is also a daily practice for me since I have Trigeminal and Occipital Neuralgia, Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis, and Fibromyalgia to name a few. Many of us with chronic pain have a hard time thinking about anything other than when is the next flare going to hit? How long will I be out this time?
Anxiety tends to increase with these thoughts.
Does this ring true for you?
Do others treat you as fragile or ill?
What I noticed as the diagnoses piled on was that others treated me as if I was fragile or ill. I don’t feel sick day to day. You know. Like when you have the flu, a bad cold or pneumonia. I have no fever. I am not sick. I am not ill. I am not weak. I am not fragile. I have chronic pain and sometimes I have flares. The flares die down. If I pace myself and follow my own rhythm, I can have a full life.
This twist of language helps me feel stronger. More powerful. I can take care of myself except when I need help. I ask. AND IT TAKES TIME. Be patient and work on this daily.
Click here for a great site on “The power of language in self talk for chronic pain.”
Change your language.
You can start by listening to yourself as you speak to others about your pain. Are you the first one to bring it up? Are you and your diagnosis the main part of the conversation with others?
Just notice. No judgment.
Listen to the words you tell others about yourself. Listen to your own thoughts about your body. Write them down. Now make two columns: 1. Words that support me. 2. Words that make me feel worse. Weaker. Sicker.
The following steps are from the University of Wisconsin-Madison under Chronic Pain: Using Healthy Thinking:
- Stop. Notice your thoughts. When you notice a negative thought, stop it in its tracks and write it down.
- Ask. Look at that thought and ask yourself whether it is helpful or unhelpful.
- Choose. Choose a new, helpful thought to replace a negative one
Change your words and change your life.
Gail Sinclair, Master Hypnotherapist, Certified Nutritional Consultant, & Karuna® Reiki Master Teacher, works diligently to teach others how to Thrive with Chronic Pain™. She lives with persistent pain and refuses to let it be in charge of her life (and accepts that some days it is).