People with chronic pain sometimes experience negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves. Recently, a reader wrote to me, saying:
“My back problem has made me feel useless. I can't do many of the things I used to do and I just don't like myself anymore.”
Living with severe pain can be a trigger for depression, a sense of loss of who you are and who you will become, and a belief that you can't manage your pain or your life. It is true that pain often changes people. You may have lost some of the positive abilities that defined you. These losses are powerful and sad. And coming to grips with them is a process that will likely take some time. But, your pain is not who you are and you still have many positive characteristics.
Don't Let The Negative Overwhelm the Positive
While you are adjusting to any temporary or possibly enduring losses or changes that are part of your chronic pain, don't forget that you sti
ll have positive qualities. Remembering the positive may help you to cope and may decrease depressing thoughts. It can be easy to focus on the negative at the expense of the positive. In fact, when we experience negative emotions and thoughts, it actually makes it more difficult to notice, recall, and appreciate the positives. Take some time to review what you still like about yourself. Click here to print out an exercise to help you recall your positive features. If you have trouble getting started, ask a family member or friend to tell you what they like about you.
About the Author. Dr. Linda Ruehlman is a social/health psychologist and researcher, co-founder of Goalistics, and Director of the Chronic Pain Management Program, an interactive site that helps people with chronic pain to manage their pain and live richer, more effective lives.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is provided as an educational and informational resource only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional psychological or medical advice.