I recently saw a Facebook post by another massage therapist who specializes in working with people in pain. He noted his top three reasons why people don’t get out of pain for the long-term. The reasons were:
- Lack of proper communication with the body
- Poor mindset “fix me” mentality
- Lack of personal responsibility – there is always something else to do
These are his words not mine. And they got me thinking a little bit. My immediate reaction when I read these reasons was, “I know I respect him, but this guy has clearly never lived with chronic pain.” I felt this way not because his points were wrong but because of the way he phrased them. Maybe I was just having “one of those days,” but the post sounded so darn judgmental.
This list also made me think about what makes a client’s experience different when they work with a therapist who has experienced chronic pain of their own. Here’s how I might have phrased these ideas differently because of my own experiences with chronic pain.
My top three reasons why people find it so challenging to resolve chronic pain:
- A lot of my clients have never had anyone guide and teach them how to re-connect with their bodies. Most of us who live with chronic pain find that we separate mind and body to some degree some of the time. This comes from living with the intensity of pain, and is an instinctive coping mechanism. Some of us started using is coping mechanism decades ago, so reconnecting to our bodies takes time, healthy methods, and a very patient teacher. It can be done with a teamwork mentality: the client, their body and a trained therapist (MT, PT, etc.).
- The world of medical care that we live in fosters a mentality of “quick fix,” especially if a pill can be given to “solve” a problem. Many people who live with chronic pain have lived inside this approach and system for many years. And yet they often find it to be unsatisfying and frustrating – mostly because the pills don’t always work. People with chronic pain also turn outside the medical system to alternative healers. And many healers in both systems encourage an approach where they want to be responsible for someone’s well being. Frankly, it’s job security … even if it might not help the client or patient escape the “fix me” mentality. There are also many patients who want to participate in the healing process. They have found that being present and working together with the healer brings better results in the long-term. But it takes a mindset shift – coming from the patient – to start this process. If you think you might be ready to start this shift, check out a blog I wrote about mindset and chronic pain.
- Most people who live with chronic pain would do almost anything and pay almost anything to find a solution and return to normal life. Many of them can’t even remember what their former “normal” life was like. I can’t tell you how many different healing ideas, devices, therapies, and diets I have tried over the last two decades. Some have helped significantly for a long time. Other methods have cost a lot and needed an extensive time commitment, without bringing much result. Friends and family (plus the occasional complete stranger) often suggest types of treatment to me. And honestly it can be exhausting and draining to try everything. My advice is to keep your eyes and ears open. Trust your gut when you hear about a new idea. Don’t overtax yourself trying too many things at once. But never, never, never give up. You can find relief. It is ultimately up to you. And never ever let someone else make you feel guilty because you haven’t yet found the right treatment plan yet. Take a break from searching if it wears you out. Get help and use your support system.
<rant over> Thanks for listening! And more importantly, I hope I was able to give you some good ideas and express the compassion I truly feel for people (like me) living with chronic pain.
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