Let’s explore the very real impact of supporting someone with persistent pain both at work and at home.
During a podcast interview with Ryan Tyack from Potential is Human, I was asked me about how my husband, Chris, dealt with my chronic pain for so many years.
I realized what a huge topic this is 🤔
Living with chronic pain is difficult, but being around someone who is living with chronic pain is also challenging for different reasons.
If you’re the partner, boss, or coworker of someone in pain, you may experience one or more of these things:
- Feeling helpless because if the doctor can’t help, what chance do you have?
- Feeling the need to find and offer practical solutions, which are not always welcomed.
- Guilt about living and enjoying your life without suffering.
- Absorbing the heavy emotions of the person in pain.
- Fear of the future. If this doesn’t get better…then what?
It’s hard to always be there for someone else, especially if it’s over a long period of time. It can take its toll on you.
Therefore, it’s essential to take care of your own mental, emotional, and physical health. On top of that, here are some practical tips to help you directly support the person who is suffering.
1. Avoid talking about the pain
Living with chronic pain can be all-consuming, but it’s important to remember that the pain doesn’t define the person. In fact, continually talking about the pain can actually make it worse. This is because pain is a neural pathway, and the more we focus on it, the stronger the pathway becomes, leading to more fear and discomfort. That’s why, as a first step, I always encourage my clients to shift their focus away from the pain and towards what they can do to improve their situation. By redirecting their thoughts and actions, they can start to take back control of their lives and reduce the hold that chronic pain has over them.
2. Help them name their emotions
It’s becoming increasingly clear that pain and emotions are intricately linked. Recent studies have shown that when someone is in pain, their emotional state can significantly impact their experience of that pain. As a friend, colleague, or loved one, you can help alleviate their suffering by encouraging them to identify and name the emotions they are feeling – be it frustration, anger, disappointment, or something else. This simple act can have a powerful effect, helping to release some of the tension and negativity that may be exacerbating their pain. By creating a safe space where they can openly express and process their emotions, you can help them move towards a greater sense of ease and comfort.
3. Create moments of joy
Creating moments of joy can be a powerful tool in managing chronic pain. It’s been scientifically proven that when we experience positive emotions, our brains release “happy chemicals” that can counteract feelings of pain. So, why not try to make someone smile today? In our home, we have a simple yet effective practice where we share what we are grateful for during dinner. This moment of reflection not only brings joy to our day but also builds up resilience, which is crucial in healing from chronic pain.
4. Suggest a mind-body approach
When it comes to chronic pain, the typical Western medical approach often only addresses the symptoms rather than the root cause. However, scientific research has shown that persistent pain is often the result of a learned neural pathway, which means it can be unlearned.
As a supportive friend, consider suggesting a mind-body approach to healing, which focuses on the interconnectedness of the body and mind. One way to get started is by taking a free quiz on my website called “Is Your Pain Curable?” This quiz can help identify if this approach is suitable for them.
It’s important to note that this approach may not be for everyone, and some people may be resistant to the idea. However, by making the suggestion, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done what you can to support them in their journey towards healing.
In summary, living or working with someone in chronic pain can be challenging, but these are four steps you can take to help
1 – Don’t talk about the pain
2 – Help name emotions
3 – Create moments of joy
4 – Suggest a mind-body approach
By following these four steps, you can feel more in control and provide meaningful support.
Don’t forget to check out the latest podcast recording with Ryan for more tips on overcoming stress, anxiety, and chronic pain.
Remember, with the right mindset and support, anything is possible.