Living with Chronic Pain

Helping Individuals With Chronic Pain Deal with Disappointment

Source: Mayo Clinic

Disappointment occurs when hopes or expectations are unfulfilled. Individuals with chronic pain often experience disappointment due to various reasons. For example, pain or fatigue renders them unable to attend an event or participate in an activity, or a new treatment option is not as effective for them as it is for others. Disappointment happens due to a challenging diagnosis or not receiving a diagnosis.

How to help someone with chronic pain deal with disappointment

There are steps a loved one can take to help prevent unhappiness when someone is disappointed. Here are four ways to help an individual with chronic pain deal with disappointment.

  • Listen to them and validate their feelings. It can be easy to brush off someone's disappointment or to try to fix the situation. However, one of the most important things a loved one can do is to listen and acknowledge their feelings without being judgmental.
  • Help them adjust their expectations. Disappointment occurs when reality does not match predictions. Although it is impossible to change reality, such as the fact of having chronic pain, expectations can be adjusted. For example, if disappointment occurs due to being unable to attend every soccer game of a child, going when pain levels are low or only to a few games is a compromise.
  • Remind them to focus on what they can control. Feelings of disappointment over something outside a person’s control is unproductive. Remind them to focus on what they can control. For example, an individual has no control over the effectiveness of a new medication; however, they can control how often they do physical therapy exercises or utilize temperature therapy.
  • Seek an alternate solution. In certain situations, it may be possible to remove disappointment with a different solution. For example, if they cannot go to the movies due to pain, invite a few friends over to stream the movie from the comfort of home. If they are disappointed that they can no longer work their full-time job due, help them find a part-time job or a volunteer position that is flexible and compatible with their abilities.

Additional source: The Mighty and Child Mind Institute

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