How Small Goals Help to Get Your Life Back from Chronic Pain

For just about everybody in chronic pain, the aim and goal is to become pain-free. I understand because it was exactly the same for me when I had chronic pain, back pain and sciatica for so many years.

However, having this as a goal puts pain squarely in your target. Every time you feel pain, you feel like you’re further away from your goal. In fact, strangely, it actually works to stop you from progressing.

What’s the goal that will ultimately get you to be pain-free?

Aim at life instead of pain.

Aim at living more fully, spending more time with your loved ones, feeling those moments, (even if they are rare,) when you are comfortable, have gratitude for the things that are going well in your life, even if they’re small. It’s looking for the things that pain has taken away, and getting them back again.

Chronic pain is a big thief. It steal so much from your life.  Looking at those things and working your way toward starting to get them back because there is a growing evidence that pain has become hardwired into your pain system. It can replay like a stuck CD in the pain processing circuits of your brain.

Even as your body heals, you continue to feel pain. The more you fill in the edges of your life with good experiences, you take small steps towards a goal that you have control over. Say to something like, “I am going to walk two to five minutes a day.” So you do that.

Now, once you’ve done that, I’m going to walk five to seven minutes a day. You create small little goals, which will move you towards getting your life back. This is actually true. This is the best way to literally get your life back after chronic pain.

It’s not the only thing you should be doing. There’s a lot more based on the latest pain science that you can do to actually reprogram and to turn down your pain. As an overall goal, it’s incredibly useful, it’s a much more useful and actionable goal than becoming pain free.

If you actually work at getting your life back, if you start bringing all those things that you’ve lost back into your life, the wonderful thing is that your pain will start to improve.

There’s a beautiful quote from Viktor Frankl. He was a psychiatrist and a philosopher. He was an Auschwitz survivor from civil war. He lived through the horror of the death camp of Auschwitz.

He wrote this. I’m going to read it because I have in front of me.

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you’re going to miss it. For success, like happiness cannot be pursued, it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause that is greater than oneself, or as the by-product of one surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success, you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do, and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run. In the long run, I say successful falling precisely because you’d forgotten to think about it.”

So that’s Viktor Frankl, a very wise man. So here, substitute success and happiness with being pain-free, and you get the picture. If you focus on those things, which are attainable in small increments, in small steps, you can work towards that.

Then once you get your life back, being pain-free will ensue, it will follow but it will follow because you haven’t focused on it. The more you focus on pain, the more it will be there.

What I’ve given is sage advice from a very wise man and adjusted his advice about happiness to getting your life back and not focusing on pain. Therefore, by so doing, being pain-free will ensue, will follow precisely because you forgot about it.

Now, this is one very powerful method that you can use to get better from chronic pain. Because it’s a complex issue, chronic pain multi layered, there are many other things that you would need to learn about and then put into action, which will aid you in this journey.

Here’s where to learn about getting your life back from chronic pain:

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