Pain has a tendency to want to mess with our minds.
It chips away at reluctant hosts with thoughts of weakness and worthlessness, and tries its darndest to make people believe that life sucks.
In it’s most ruthless state, pain creates fear. LOTS of fear. It scares individuals into stopping the things that they love doing the most. It lulls them with false promises as it whispers into their thoughts: if you stop doing the things that make you happy, the things that you love the most, I *will* go away.
The thing is, when pain starts talking this way, it is not to be trusted.
Throughout my more than ten years of living with rheumatoid arthritis, I fell multiple times for these false promises that the pain so often presented in an attractive light. Each time I cast aside the things that bought me joy with each new day, all in the hope that doing so might be *the* thing that would finally make the pain go away, I found myself in a place where I only hurt worse.
I found myself in a dark, scary spot that is unimaginable to many, but which–sadly enough–is all too familiar to many of us who live with chronic pain.
A couple of years ago, after years and years of trying anything/everything to make the pain go away, I decided that I would start tricking my mind.
Instead of telling myself that life sucked, I started telling myself that life was beautiful…just the way it was.
Instead of telling myself that the pain HAD to go away, I started telling myself that everything would be okay…even if (and when) the pain continued.
Instead of telling myself that I was weak, I started telling myself that I was strong.
Instead of telling myself that I was sick, I started telling myself that I was healthy.
Instead of telling myself that I could no longer do x and y, I started–immediately–figuring out just exactly how I *would* do x and y.
And instead of telling myself that feeling scared was a normal response to each new day, I started telling myself that fear had no place in my life.
When I started rewiring my thoughts–or, as I referred to it, “tricking my mind”–I couldn’t help but ask myself (and others who were close to me): am I just fooling myself? Am I just leading myself down a path of denial and unfounded optimism; won’t I just end up in another dark spot, as I have so many time before?
No, you’re not fooling yourself, they told me. You’re doing what you need to do to survive.
Having followed this new path for much of the past couple of years, I’ve discovered a place that is brighter than anything I have known before, either with our without the constant pain.
I find myself in a place where the pain–the very thing that used to hold me back–now motivates me to go out and live life to its fullest, each and every day.
And I’ve come to realize that what I was doing all along wasn’t tricking my mind.
I was tricking the pain.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!