What can I do to help myself?

You are the only person who knows what it’s like to have your pain. No-one else can feel it, can know what you think about in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep, can remember who told you what, and no-one else can do the everyday things that need to be done to help you take control of your life.

How do you “get on with life”? How do you help yourself?

I’ve written about this before here – what would you be doing if pain wasn’t such a problem?

Let’s take “cook my own meals” as something you’d be doing if pain wasn’t such a problem. It can seem an enormous task – first you have to decide what you have in the cupboards, what you need to buy, what you want to eat, how long it’s going to take to cook it, and when you want to eat it. Yet even when writing this list of steps down, I can see ways to begin the job.

Great saying: All you need to do to finish things is keep starting them until they’re done.

What this means is – let’s begin by looking in the cupboards. What’s easy to prepare today? Does it matter if it’s not 100% healthy if you haven’t been preparing ANY meals for a while? Does it matter if it’s a convenience food if it gets you one step closer to cooking your own meals from scratch. Is the aim “cook my own meals from scratch” or is it “cook my own meals”?

Check in with what your mind’s saying when you begin working out what steps to take first. Does your mind say “How dumb. How stupid. Normal people just make dinner and here I am having to stand in front of the cupboard and decide what I’m going to eat.”

Just a moment: what was your goal again? That’s right, to “cook my own meals” – nothing in here about cooking meals in any particular way, nothing about judging yourself as normal or not normal. Take a moment to thank your mind for making a commentary like that and bring that sense of frustration or shame or guilt with you, and make some room for it. You have chronic pain. Chronic pain means sometimes you need to do things differently. It’s neither dumb nor stupid to make something to eat. Remember – people used to think that having running hot water and electricity was “being lazy”!

Before you do anything more – ask yourself “why do I want to cook my own meals?”

Why is it important? It could be because it’s a small way to get control over a difficult situation. or because you really want to be successful at something today. Or maybe because you enjoy pottering in the kitchen. Whatever the reason, notice your mind’s attempt to hijack you by judging your efforts as “dumb” or “stupid”. It’s your mind’s way of dealing with the contrast between what you used to do (or thought you HAD to do) and what you’re doing today. If you can successfully turn what your mind is saying into background noise, it won’t have such an impact on you. So here’s a silly thing that works to stop those harsh words becoming emotionally-laden: try saying “stupid” at least 15 times. Yes, you saw that – 15 times. Out loud. Stupid, stupid, stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid,stupid.

Notice something?

The word stops meaning anything. It becomes a set of syllables, a bit of noise, the movement of your lips and tongue against your teeth and the roof of your mouth. The words lose their power.

Now try standing in front of the cupboard and look at what you have there – even if your mind shouts “STUPID” at you, I’ll bet it doesn’t feel the same. You might even giggle at it a bit.

That’s one way to deal with mind chatter as you go about taking control not of your pain, but of your ACTIONS and your LIFE.

Good luck!


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