Hope. It’s a small word with profound impact. A lot like love, or stop. When I talk to people about accepting chronic pain, very often I hear “Oh but I don’t want to give up hope.”
Fair enough – I don’t want to stop hoping either, but at the same time, if I’m thinking about NOT being where I am right now, not feeling what I’m feeling right now, I’m also not enjoying what IS.
Acceptance is not about saying everything is hunky dory. It is about being willing to do what needs to be done, even if it’s not pleasant, so that what is important and valuable in life can be achieved.
So when it comes to looking for a cure, I want to ask some hard questions.
How many times have you gone in to see a treatment provider, and hoped that this time it will be The One That Works?
And how many times has it actually worked? For more than a short time?
And what has the cost been?
Time sitting, waiting to be seen. Time waiting for it to work. Time between appointments. Money to pay for treatments. Money to fill the car with petrol to get to and from appointments. Time away from people you love. Attention away from being present with family, friends, loved ones. The emotional rollercoaster as hope rises, then despair falls.
There’s no special time to stop looking for a cure. It’s always an ongoing process of deciding how much to invest in an uncertain future outcome versus being fully present in what is here and now. How much energy to spend looking for something else versus spending that energy on doing things you value, or working towards doing things you value.
If those questions leave you feeling a bit uneasy, I’m sorry. Because when I say there is a cost to treatment, the costs are always present in everything we do. Sometimes these questions leave people feeling really upset and distressed. People think I’m saying “Just give up. Just leave things the way they are.” I’m not. I am suggesting that looking for a cure can get in the way of taking those small steps towards living a quality, value-filled life right now.
There is help if you want to learn to live well despite your pain. If you want to begin taking small steps where you are today, rather than waiting, hoping for “normal” to return. Usually you’ll find this kind of help from an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psychologist or social worker skilled and experienced in chronic pain management. Or you can keep reading this blog, I’ll be posting each week. Drop me a line and I can cover topics you’re especially interested in.
Elbert Hubbard is thought to have said this: Positive anything is better than negative nothing. Do you want to walk on the sunny side for a bit?