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Roles People in Your Life Play When You Have a Chronic Condition

 Power of Pain Foundation October 07, 2014

By Barby Ingle, Chairman, Power of Pain Foundation

Creating a support system in your life when you are suffering with chronic pain is a must! Your support system can be comprised of your family, friends, a support group, health care providers, and caretakers. Surrounding yourself with people who are both emotionally and physically supportive can make a difference in your daily life. You may also find it beneficial to map out a plan of action with your support team so that a daily routine is established and maintained. This can serve to minimize stress levels when unexpected changes in plans arise.

Changes Both Inside and Out

When you have chronic pain, making life as stress free as possible is important. As you learn to adjust to your physical pain, you are also adjusting emotionally. The people around you and in your support system may also be experiencing an emotional adjustment. As they do, you may find that the interaction between you has changed and not always for the better. Some people cannot handle watching someone else in pain and feel bad that they cannot fix it. They may tend to react by avoiding you. Or they may compensate by babying you, or to the other extreme, bullying you. The reality of your new situation is that as these changes are taking place on the inside, you must also deal with the outside. You can make positive changes with dealing and communicating honestly with others in your life and the new roles assumed by you and them.

Learning How to Cope With Your Situation
Transforming your world, so that your emotional resources work together with your outer influences, will help you with your new daily reality. Changing your approach to situations and your perspective can help you see things from a different angle. You can prepare and react to the new roles that those in your support system have adopted. Learning to use the people in your life to better your situation will also help them to stay positive, and they can then play larger roles in your life, whether this means embracing offers from some or backing off from others. Limiting your time, discussions, or interactions with particular people in your life will help everyone cope with stress of your new disability.

Look at your life as being different, not over. Try arousing your hidden inner potential by trying new activities, learning new subjects, and working to create balance and harmony between how you feel and what you can do. Bring out the good qualities that you have hidden inside you by experiencing the freedom of being your genuine self. When you’re in pain, it is hard to be anything but your true self; it can expose the raw side of who you are.

As being one who lives with chronic pain, the pain has helped me gain self-knowledge, avoid unnecessary detours in life, and cultivate love and goodness in myself and in those I choose to have around me. By my learning to manage pain, fear, and anger, I have been able to create new circumstances and enjoy a better life quality, allowing those around me to also become better people. Paying attention to how you are living and reacting has many positive advantages. It has helped me become the person I want to be towards others in my life as well as become more spiritual. It has been helpful in refining my values. Living in pain has given me the chance to experience real satisfaction and happiness, to forgive myself, and to love and embrace myself on a grand level.

Help Them Help You
To let your family, friends, and caregiver know what they can do to help you, make a list of what needs to be done. Decide what items you can do yourself on the list and what you need assistance with. Responsibilities that need to be considered include: cleaning, cooking, laundry, mail drop off and delivery, pet care, planning meals, shopping, social activities, and transportation. Friends and family may find it beneficial to map out a plan of action with the patient’s participation so that a daily routine is established. This reduces stress levels and minimizes unexpected changes in plans.

Try to stay active and maybe join a support group or seek psychological counseling if appropriate. Some people even reach the point of ultimately counseling others who have chronic pain. Some people find benefit in getting involved in volunteer work, which allows them to set their own hours and feel that they still can contribute to others instead of just focusing on their own condition.

It is important to discuss concerns with family members, friends, physicians, or support service professionals (e.g., psychologist, social worker), in order to take advantage of options that are available and may actually lead to pain relief and improvement in the overall quality of life. It may be difficult (or impossible) to imagine that someone can be in severe pain continually if one has not experienced it.

I did not understand this; and, as a former athlete, it was hard for me to talk about pain and what I was going through. Society also does not often address the issues around chronic pain. I often hear the words “you look healthy,” but inside I suffer excruciating, unforgiving, and burning pain that is invisible to others.

Power of Pain Foundation is a non-profit organization that offers support to pain suffers and their families for more than 150 chronic pain conditions. Learn about the many ways to help yourself or someone you know who suffers with a chronic condition by contacting the Power of Pain Foundation at 480-882-1342, email: or visit

Photo credit: AlexRaths/iStock Back to Top

 Power of Pain Foundation| October 07, 2014

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