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Living with Chronic Pain

» Mental Health Library » Disorders & Conditions » Pain Disorder » Featured Article

By Janice C. Feuerhelm, LPC

Janice C. Feuerhelm, LPC

Chronic pain affects millions of people worldwide. Chronic pain is different than acute pain. Chronic pain is pain that continues long after the original cause. Chronic pain also has a psychological component that affects every area of one's life. The challenge of living with chronic pain can create depression, difficulty with family/friend relationships, loss of job, financial losses and a loss of self-worth.

During my counseling experiences with individuals living with chronic pain, I have discovered that there are key healthy attitudes that help someone learn how to cope and live with chronic pain. I teach persons' with chronic pain how to adopt these attitudes and have had the pleasure of witnessing many reclaim their life again, in spite of chronic pain.

The following are three attitudes that CAN make a difference when living with chronic pain:

Optimism It truly does make a difference if you "see the glass half empty" or "half-full." People that are optimists try to find the positive in all situations. I recently had someone tell me that after their injury, they were able to discover new hobbies because they could no longer do the same hobbies as prior to their injury. They discovered a hobby that eventually led to a new career. I know it is a challenge to seek the positive in every situation. However, I have seen relationships grow stronger because of pain. I have seen families rediscover what's really important in their lives. I have seen people "slow down and smell the roses" because of their pain. Part of having an optimistic attitude is also believing that one can go on in spite of pain.

Determination  is another healthy attitude. Determination is an attitude that gives someone confidence to carry on. It is the attitude that says "I will not give up"; "I will not allow this pain to take over my life." Determination allows one to persevere. It is about finding new ways of doing things and not giving up. Determination allows one to separate their core self-worth from their pain. Determination is about seeking and finding hope in any situation.

Commitment is the attitude that says, "I am committed to my life and the lives of others." I will not isolate myself because of my pain. I will allow others to help because it is their gift to me. Commitment is about dedicating one's self to personal growth. It is using the experience of pain as a way to allow one's self to grow spiritually, physically and emotionally. The commitment to others is about trusting in the relationship. It is a trust that creates a special bond in the relationship and determines the depth of the relationship. Living with pain is a great test of relationships.

These three healthy attitudes can and will make a difference in how one copes with chronic pain. It can be the difference between living one's life or simply existing in isolation with chronic pain. Which one will you choose?

For additional information regarding chronic pain, please visit the American chronic Pain Association's web site at

About the Author...

I have a private counseling practice located in Arlington and Fort Worth, Texas. I specialize in working with person's with chronic pain, depression, past history of sexual abuse, families, and couples.

Last Update: 9/15/2008

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