Today I was thinking about hope. At my first session with most of my patients living with chronic pain Hope is either lacking or completely missing. Why is this? Fortunately, I can empathize with these people by remembering back when I was first injured and thought my life was over.
The reality was that my life—the way it was anyway—was over. Since that time I’m so grateful for that initial injury and where I’m at in my life journey today. However, if someone tried to tell me that there was hope for me early on I would not have believed them. That is why I don’t do that for people; but I do ask them if it would be alright if they could learn to improve the quality of their life.
I find that developing hope for me—and many people I work with—is a process that starts with grieving what was lost. I met with someone today who was in a really hopeless and helpless emotional state. His wife and family are telling him it’s over—the loss of his material goods—and that he needs to get over it.
He said he was expecting me to tell him the same thing. I didn’t do that. Instead I asked him to share with me what were his most painful losses. He was at that point able to pull out his PDA and show me what he had lost and why it is so hard for him. He was able to cry and talk about his loss and the anger he had for why it happened to him.
This was a good starting point for him. Unfortunately, when everyone had tried to talk him out of his feelings he felt ashamed and then became somewhat suicidal. Today we started working on ways for him to grieve his loss and not have to act out on his suicidal thoughts. He came up with several ways he can start changing how he talks to himself and how to challenge those self-destructive thoughts when they surface.
By the end of our session he shared that for the first time in a very long time he had at least a bit of hope. He now had a step by step daily plan of action to work on between now and our session next week. He will bring his family to that session and I will help them all communicate their thoughts and feelings with each other in a healthy way.
Unresolved hopelessness is only one of the five stuck points to effective pain management that I help my patients to resolve. To learn more please check out my article Identifying and Managing Five Stuck Points that Sabotage Chronic Pain Managaement that you can download for free on our Article page.
If you’d like to receive training for helping people with chronic pain and coexisting disorders, including addiction, I’m very excited to announce we are once again presenting my Addiction-Free Pain Management® Certification Training in Sacramento on August 11-13, 2011 again in our Sacramento office space. To learn more about this and my other upcoming trainings you can check out our Calendar page.
You can learn about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you are working with people undergoing chronic pain management and want to learn how to develop a plan for managing their chronic pain and coexisting psychological disorders; including depression, addiction and other coexisting psychological disorders effectively; please consider my book Managing Pain and Coexisting Disorders: Using the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System. To purchase this book please Click Here.
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