By Julie Ryan
Recently I saw a meme on Facebook asking the question: "How can you be positive when you live with chronic pain?" There was a time when I would have totally agreed with that sentiment, but no more. These days I know that whether I feel positive or negative has little to do with my physical health. I have learned that not only can I be positive living with chronic pain, but that I have to be.
Whether you feel positive or negative is a choice that you make. Not only is it a choice that you make but it's a choice you must make repeatedly. It's a choice you often must make hundreds of times a day.
When you live with chronic pain it seems that there is every reason to feel negative, to live in the dumps, in the land of "poor me." It's easy to feel sorry for ourselves, to wonder what we did to deserve this fate, and to think that life will never get better. But, whether or not the pain improves, life can get better because life is about a lot more than the pain we are in. Life is about a million small things.
Life is about:
The people who surround us. We all have wonderful people in our lives. People who care about us, if we will let them… if we choose not to push them away.
The beauty that surrounds us. Look around. Look out your window if you can't get outside. There is beauty in nature, even on a cold, gray day like today.
The small things. Every day there are a million small things that make like worth living. Whether it's a bite of a favorite food, watching a favorite show, or curling up with a book.
Most of all, life is about living. Despite chronic illness we can still live. We are still here if we allow ourselves to be. It's hard when you are ill and you don't feel you have anything to give. You worry that no one wants to be around you because all you do is take. But, the truth is that you do have plenty left to give. You are an amazing person and people love you.
Whether you realize it or not you give back in a million small ways every day. With a single smile you give love. With a single message, you let someone else know that they are not alone. And, with every second that you keep going, you let yourself know that you are worth it.
I had to reach rock bottom before I was able to realize that I had a choice in how I felt. Until I hit bottom, I thought that I had no control over my feelings – that they were just there. But, once I realized I had a choice, I took control. I’ve learned that I can replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and that I can (in time) be a more positive person. I still have bad days when it takes everything I have to feel positive. But, I don’t live in those days anymore, I just visit.
So, how can you be positive despite chronic pain? You choose to. It doesn't mean that you are positive every moment of every day, it just means that you choose to be positive over and over again. When you run up against a negative thought you accept it, you ask yourself if it's a valid thought, then you do your best to replace that negative thought with a positive one. If you do that enough times the positive thoughts become easier and the negative thoughts come less often. And, soon you find yourself living a positive life despite chronic pain.
Julie Ryan, a regular contributor to ProHealth, is a fellow Fibromyalgia Warrior, freelance writer, and blogger. In addition to Fibromyalgia, Julie is currently diagnosed with Endometriosis, Migraines, Cluster Headaches, and Hypothyroid. She shares her journey, along with inspiration, and information on her blog at http://countingmyspoons.com