Living with Chronic Pain

Rethinking Chronic Pain Limitations


Chronic pain oftentimes limits individuals on what they can and cannot accomplish. These limits may become normal, creating a phenomenon known as experience avoidance. This results in turning down opportunities due to the pain. It can cause people to stop thinking about what they truly want, how much they want it, and the disappointment that will culminate if they cannot do it.

While experience avoidance can protect individuals from emotional and physical pain, it comes at a high cost of living in fear, losing belief in the power to make choices, and missing out on opportunities. This causes the avoidance of discovering what matters most in life and if it may be worth the discomfort.

How to rethink limitations

There will likely be fear and discomfort involved when rethinking limitations created by chronic pain, but it is an important part of living a meaningful life. Tips to transform limitations into opportunities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rethink limits that result from experience avoidance instead of what chronic pain actually hinders. Think about what is really wanted in order to live a full life. Determine if saying “no” is anticipated due to habit or actual inability.
  • Acknowledge the potential challenges of transforming limits into opportunities. Many emotions will be involved when discovering what matters and is wanted. This is especially true while living with chronic pain.
  • Give up the idea of doing activities as a person without chronic pain. Instead, think about going after what is wanted despite the chronic pain. Individuals with chronic pain can still reach their goals.
  • Be flexible and create solutions. Those with chronic pain may have to adjust how they reach their goal. Making small or modified steps toward what is wanted is better than not pursuing it at all.

Additional sources: Psychology Today and Psychology Today

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