Are you living in the future? In the time when there will be a cure, or a treatment that will make everything better? Or do you live in the past, rehashing old trauma; remembering all the bad things that have happened to you? Or maybe you live in the past, dreaming of the days when you felt GOOD; when you could work all day and still cook dinner when you got home.
I’ve been in all those places, over and over; and you want to know what they taught me? That I’ve spent a big portion of my life missing out on my “now.”
My past is over. The good and the bad are gone, they live on only in my head and in how they’ve shaped me. The only power the painful times have is the power I give them to affect my present. If I obsess over the wrongs that have been done to me in the past, or the things I’ve lost; it prevents me from being able to enjoy what I do have.
The future? There’s no guarantee that there IS a future. If I’m walking home from work worrying about what I have to do when I get here, I don’t see the roses blooming, I don’t smell the sweet honeysuckle that grows beside the sidewalk or hear the beautiful bird song.
I can walk home focused on what I’m going to do when I get here, or focused on how tired I am, or how much my back (neck, hip, knee) hurts; and the more I focus on the pain, the more I hurt; the more I focus on all the things I have to get done, the more stressed I get.
My other option is to acknowledge the pain and what needs to get done, then focus on how good the sun feels on my skin or how sweet the honeysuckle smells. I can choose to focus on the beauty of the roses, or the pain of the thorns. It seems such a small thing, that choice; but it’s actually huge. It’s the difference between having a good day, or a painful one; the difference between being stressed out or relaxed. The pain is going to be there anyway, it’s always there; but if I choose to focus on the beauty I will be happier than I will if I focus on the pain, and in the end, isn’t that what life is all about?
The biggest thing I’ve learned in this journey is that positive thinking won’t cure my illness, but it sure as hell makes it easier to live with.
- Mind Control: Coping with Chronic Pain (psychologytoday.com)