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8 Things to Remember If You Love Someone With Chronic Pain

8 Things to Remember If You Love Someone With Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a condition that we all cringe when we hear, right? Imagine being a person that suffers from pain for more than 3 months. We also know there are many conditions which cause chronic pain such as back problems, arthritis, migraines and so on. It’s sad but not much more is said about how prevalent this condition may be. Unfortunately, it’s extremely common. Over 25 million people suffer from chronic pain in the US but a discussion of their problems goes under the radar. Chronic pain is not just physical – it’s an emotional journey. If you love someone that suffers from chronic pain, you will likely have to accommodate their situation as necessary.

Beyond the physical sensation of pain, here are 8 reasons why they suffer more than you think.

1. Chronic pain is invisible

Roughly 96% of illnesses are invisible meaning they do not have any external signals that point towards it such as a walking stick or wheelchair. After dealing with it for so long, they no longer grimace or cry every time they’re in pain.  It’s possible they look perfectly fine despite being in pain.

It’s easy for it to be ignored as a disability simply because it’s unseen. Therefore their problems can be subject to statements such as “just fight through it” which are dismissive. Chronic pain isn’t the same as the common cold or even a broken leg.

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2. It leads to depression

25% to 75% of chronic pain sufferers experience moderate to severe depression. This, in addition to being in frequent pain means it’s very easy to withdraw and stop engaging in day to day activities. It strains relationships with friends and family which in turn decreases their quality of life further. It is a vicious cycle that even affects how effective pain treatment is.

As Rachel Benner says, “it’s important for them to incorporate structure, activities, socialization, purpose and meaning into each day of their lives.”

3. They don’t know how it started

It’s possible to have pain without a clear origin or an injury that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Having a reason for an injury is helpful – you can be more careful next time. More importantly, it provides closure. Without a reason, prolonged pain becomes becomes completely meaningless and feels like terrible bad luck.

Bad luck should be missing the bus to work. Not years of pain.

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Suffering without meaning creates questions that demand answers. However, those answers either don’t exist or require a very long time to discover. Both possibilities have adverse effects on their mood.

4. They don’t know if it’ll end

Especially if the person is young, this causes incredible amounts of despair. They start to wonder whether they can handle being in pain every day for the next 10, 20, or 30 years.

Here’s the kicker – it is possible there’s no end. It’s possible they could have to suffer from pain for the rest of their lives and this becomes more real to them the longer it persists.

5. They blame themselves

There’s an expectation to have gotten used to the pain after a while the same way one might get used to a walking stick. It’s easy to self-criticize for not being able to do certain things you used to like stay out with friends or complete work on time. Sometimes, they’ll want to fight the pain and if they fail, they’ll blame themselves for not working hard enough. This can lead to self-loathing and feelings of guilt because they cannot live life at the same pace as their friends and family.

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Living exactly the same life as your peers is unrealistic when you suffer from chronic pain. The expectation to do so creates a burden they blame themselves for.

6. They aren’t making a mountain of a molehill

People often underestimate chronic pain. In combination with chronic pain being an invisible illness, they can often hear the phrase ‘you don’t look ill’ turn to ‘it can’t be that bad’.

We’ve all been in pain but it’s surprisingly difficult to imagine having a pain that lasts literally every day. It might be tempting to try motivating them using a pep-talk but it can result in guilt tripping which is be incredibly demotivating. It’s important not to use throwaway lines like ‘you’ll get over it’ because it distances you from the problem and isolates those with chronic pain.

7. It’s exhausting

Chronic pain requires a lot of energy. It’s like having four flat tires and half a tank of gas then starting a cross country tour.

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Every activity ranging from getting out of bed to washing dishes to waiting for the bus takes a significant amount of energy. As a result of this, they might have to cancel plans and end the day early. Loving someone with chronic pain means cutting them some slack or planning more low-key events with them.

8. They appreciate your support

Suffering from chronic pain can feel lonely and hopeless. The relationship between a person and their pain is dynamic. It can change from apathy to frustration to hopelessness over time. These changes on a persons outlook on life and their pain are difficult to deal with especially if they become consumed with frustration. The changes are unique for every person so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

As you can see, chronic pain is just as emotional as it is physical. Having a person who simply listens and tries their best to understand can make that journey much easier.

A supportive friend is invaluable.

Your support is treasured dearly!

Featured photo credit: rolands.lakis via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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