How does pain turn into happiness?
Mindfulness for Chronic Pain
"The pain should finally go away!" - This desire for freedom from pain is all too understandable. Chronic pain is not only an uncomfortable physical sensation, it is also a strain on the psyche. Mindfulness is an important tool to alleviate mental suffering around chronic pain.
What is mindfulness
To be mindful means to be consciously attentive in the present moment. But what is that supposed to be good for? Often we are completely different with our thoughts. We may be in a café with a friend thinking about the next day at work. We sit in front of the computer in the office and fantasize about after work or the next vacation. If you suffer from chronic pain, you probably also know this phenomenon: You are on a birthday or going for a walk, but your attention is actually focused on the pain. Unfortunately, applying mindfulness to pain does not happen by itself. If we are not mindful, we simply miss what is happening.
Can you only experience happiness through freedom from pain?
How can we increase our quality of life with mindfulness? Many of us see happiness as something to look for in order to find it. This perception of happiness means that many people spend their lives looking for happiness. They see it as a failure if they don't find it. With chronic pain, it is often the case that sufferers think they can only be happy again when they are pain-free. The crux of the matter is, unfortunately, chronic pain persists, so it pays to find a way to be happy despite the pain. This also makes it easier to bear the pain. Practicing mindfulness with pain is a good way to do this.
Happiness is always there - even when you are in pain
For a better quality of life despite chronic pain, it is necessary to change your own view of personal happiness: Happiness is not something that we can achieve through freedom from pain. Think about it: were you always happy before the pain started? Are people always happy without pain? Just imagine that happiness is a summer rain. Small, warm, light drops that fall down and sometimes just land very gently on us. If you don't have to find or bring about happiness, this summer rain, how can you be happy?
Mindfulness for Chronic Pain: Better Quality of Life
Imagine that you live your life in the open air and that the little raindrops that represent happiness sometimes land on your body. If you are constantly thinking about why you are in pain and how the pain might go away, do you still have the time and attention to notice the droplets on you? If we are not in the moment with our thoughts, is there a risk that we will not perceive happiness because we are too preoccupied with worrying about the pain? Applying mindfulness to pain brings you back to the perception of every little "drop of happiness".
Mindfulness takes practice
Focusing on the moment and experiencing present happiness - that sounds good, but it takes practice. We are simply not used to focusing on the now. Most people find it difficult to be mindful at first, so being mindful of pain can be a challenge at first. But we can train our conscious attention like a muscle: the more we use it, the stronger it becomes and the easier it will be for us to be mindful. But something else besides the lack of practice makes it difficult for us to apply mindfulness to chronic pain.
Mindfulness requires letting go
Often times we have thoughts of something because we want to use it to control things. Often, however, the opposite is the case: as we ponder problems, we hold on to them. This is especially true when the problem is currently unsolvable. You can find out more about the difference between solvable and unsolvable problems in our blog article on reducing stress.
Perhaps you have the subconscious assumption that if you just spend a lot of time trying to get rid of it, you can master your pain. Of course, it makes sense to first look at possible solutions. But if you have already done a lot, you can regain your quality of life by giving up control step by step, accepting it and being mindful of the everyday moments of happiness. You can also find more about acceptance and control in our blog article: What helps with fibromyalgia?
HelloBetter Training Chronic Pain
If you want to learn more about mindfulness for chronic pain, practice acceptance and systematically regain your quality of life, you might be interested in our online training chronic pain. You can find more information about this and how to register under the link above.
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