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Coping With Pain
Posted Nov 1998

The following was taken from Lifeline, The Newsletter of the National Chronic Pain Outreach Association, Inc., which was taken from "Winning with Pain" by Harris M. Mellwain et al., an excellently clear and detailed guide to the medical treatments and self-help strategies which have proven effective in alleviating suffering in a wide range of painful conditions.

Coping With Loss of Control

Chronic pain can cause loss of control over aspects of your life. You may have noticed that those facets of life that once depended on your abilities, ideas, or strength no longer do. Instead of being in control of your destiny, you may feel that the pain controls every aspect of your life; you are simply a puppet on a string.

There is a fine line between what you think you cannot control and what you absolutely cannot control. The key to dealing effectively with pain is to make sure you understand this distinction.

  1. Make a list of things you want to change in your life. With the help of your doctor, mental health counselor, family and friends, start applying yourself to the areas in your life that you still have control over.

  2. Learn to adjust. If you are no longer able to work and must give it up, do not get stressed over the situation. talk to someone about your feelings and fears, and learn to channel these feelings in another direction that you do have some control over.

  3. Ask for help. If you need help in an area that you have lost control over, such as cleaning your home or driving to the doctor, ask for assistance. It is not a sign of personal failure to get help from anyone; we all need help from someone; we all need help at some time in our lives.

  4. Set goals each day to tackle a new area that you have lost control over. Perhaps you have been unable to clean the house due to chronic pain. Start with one room and try to tackle one project; for example, washing the dishes instead of trying to clean the entire kitchen. As you accomplish new projects, weigh the amount of pain you are experiencing. If you can continue, try another small task. Soon you may be able to regain control over some areas that were isolated by pain.

  5. Take baby steps in achieving control again. Remember, taking one small step at a time, then another and another, will let you regain control and confidence over the areas in your life that have been out of reach for some time.