The Chronic Pain Experience – Stage 5 – Acceptance
Embracing Your New Normal
Finally, you are feeling the peace that comes with acceptance. You have realized the grief process you have been experiencing is unique to you. You are on the path to embracing your new normal.
You also may have discovered that grief is not a straight path.
There are some days or moments when you are at peace with chronic pain, and other times you are spinning back into some other stage of grief. This is normal. In a book titled “The Four Tasks of Grief” by Dr. William Worden, he gives us a clear understanding that working through grief is not a straight path but rather a trail full of twists and turns.
You will have good days and bad days. You will have good moments and bad moments. Accepting this reality is part of embracing your new normal.
Making Peace with “What Is”
There is an entire literary and artistic genre based on fantasy. If you think about it, as human beings we often turn to fantasy to relax our minds or to engage our imaginations. This may be a wonderful way to spend some of your time; however, fantasy does not provide a good coping mechanism for pain.
It is fantastical (like something out of a story) thinking to wait for your pain to stop before your life can resume. When we come to the realization that pain is here to stay, we can make peace with the reality of our situation and embrace what is good “ here and now”.
When the Apostle Paul was traveling around and writing most of the Epistles found in the Bible, he had what he referred to as a “thorn in the flesh”. That is a painful description. A big, thick thorn shoved into his body! I bet a few people reading this blog can relate to that!
In 2 Corinthians Ch. 6, Paul describes praying three times for this thorn to be removed. He also explains what he received from those prayers:
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor:6:9 -NASB)
Accepting your new normal is accepting that Christ’s grace is sufficient for you, and He is more than able to sustain you through this trial.
Holding the Whole Picture
We have been created in the image of God. Without a better definition, we describe God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three parts completely integrated. We are body, mind, and spirit – three parts completely integrated.
God is past, present, and future. God does not see one part of time as more important than the other.
We, humans, have a past, present, and future. As we accept our new normal, we are learning to put less emphasis on our past when we spent days longing for our pain-free youth. In addition, we need to learn not to spend our days fantasizing about the future.
We realize that we have a past, a present, and a future. All three have equal importance. However, we can only live in this moment. Our past and our future can be pulled into our minds to enhance our present experience, but not overshadow it. We learn to hold the whole picture and to understand all of our experiences are important.
You are Never Alone
When you factor in all the endless doctor appointments, pain medicines, sleepless nights, exhausting days and tearful moments, and feeling alone and crying out to God…
…you realize that you are not alone.
God is there!
He has heard your cry and He is invested in you. This is all very good news.
Hebrews 4:14-16 makes it so very clear.
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all – all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (MSG)
You Have Displayed Courage When Accepting Your Chronic Pain as Part of Your New Normal.
If you are at the stage of Acceptance and have not yet connected with a healing community, I am encouraging you to begin today. This is a critical step for ongoing support and embracing your new normal.
A healing community is composed of healing professionals, such as mental health therapists, lifestyle coaches, and other medical or alternative medicine practitioners who are committed to your ongoing health.
Your community should also include trusted friends and family that you can rely on, as well as support groups where you can share your experiences in an accepting environment.
If you have developed a healing community, keep nurturing those relationships. Keep your self-care on point by setting regular appointments, attending meetings, and making time to spend with friends.
We were meant to live life in relationship to others…“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. ~ 1 Thes:5:11”
The State of Acceptance and Support;
If You or Someone You Know is in the Stage of Acceptance Continue to Show Support in These Ways
Be gracious to yourself even when you are having difficult days.
Managing chronic pain means that you are going to have good days and bad days. Give yourself grace when you are experiencing a bad day. If your loved one is managing chronic pain, model grace by listening to them and encouraging them in loving, non-judgmental ways. Avoid words like “should” and “ought.”
Have an alternative plan.
When you, or someone you love, is planning to attend an event or outing, have a plan B in place. That way, if the chronic pain doesn’t allow you to follow through with your original plans, you can still enjoy some of the festivities by having an alternate plan. If you are planning a family bike ride and chronic pain won’t allow you to ride your bike that day, make plans to meet at the endpoint. That way you can celebrate with those who you had planned on seeing that day.
Stick to your self-care routine
When you are feeling at peace with chronic pain, you may think that this is a good time to scale back on your self-care routine. I am encouraging you to keep up with your self-care. You may be feeling good, and that is great news! However, your central nervous system is still in the fight and working hard to manage the pain. Give your body the support it needs, even on the good days. Your body will thank you.
You are still on your healing journey
Understand that you are still on your healing journey. Continue to be curious and courageous. This may be a good time to try something new and explore other healing modalities that you haven’t tried before. Sustaining your good health is your new job.
If you would like to try clinical hypnosis to gain the skills to manage chronic pain, contact me here and we will strategize together to help you plan your path of pain management.
*all picture are freepik designs”