You have heard the saying, “attitude is everything.” When you suffer from chronic pain, your attitude plays a big part in how you feel and so it is important to develop a positive attitude in order to cope effectively. Like many of you, chronic pain from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia is a daily part of my life and I know that maintaining a positive attitude is something that is easier said than done. People who live with pain have their good days and their bad ones. When the bad days come, it is hard to be in a good mood let along have a positive attitude. Living with pain is bad enough but when you add a negative attitudes, things go from bad to worse pretty quickly.
So how do you develop a positive attitude from life is all about living with pain, doctor visits, weight gain and a whole lot of chaos? We have all had to cancel plans because we are having a bad pain day and even when do decide to attend to plans, our attitude gets in the way. I think the hardest thing for me during my RA/fibro journey has been the weight gain because I stress so much about it that it keeps me from enjoying life. Between medications and being inactive due to pain, I feel like I have no control. For others, it could be not being able to work, anxiety over money, and/or medical bills that create a feeling of lack of control but the fact is that the only thing any of us have control of is our attitudes.
Despite having my moments where the burden of chronic illness and pain are a dominating factor, I have learned to maintain a positive attitude overall. Here are some of the things that have worked for me in maintaining a positive attitude.
1. I count my blessings. I do this every day, with or without pain. I think about all the things in my life that are good, about my loved ones and about all things that make me happy.
2. I remind myself that the pain will pass. When a flare occurs, things do get worse but they eventually get better. Even when things don’t seem to get better quickly, I continue to hope that that will because hope is good medicine for the soul.
3. I find ways to distract myself. The human brain can easily mask pain through other activity. For example, you could read a book, watch TV, go for a walk or have a phone conversation with a friend to distract yourself from the pain.
4. I connect with others. I am so glad that there are support sites like the ones I advocate for so that no one has to suffer alone. You can also connect with others outside of support groups such as friends and family. If you need help, ask for it but do yourself a favor and do not go through a painful flare alone.
5. I decide to be positive. I tell myself that my attitude is the one thing I have control of. Further, my attitude doesn’t just affect me. It affects my children, my friends, my family, and coworkers. Even if I cannot be positive for myself, I know I need to be positive for others in my life.
6. I choose to see past my pain. I think it is so important to try to see past your pain whether through spiritual means, such as meditation or religious, such as prayer.
From personal experience, I know that developing a positive attitude is like winning half the battle of living with chronic pain. The fact is that none of us can change our situations. However, if we strive to give ourselves a way to live better, we can see positive change.