Tips for Making Peace with Chronic Pain and Illness

I’m excited to share that a revised and expanded edition of my most popular book, like being sick, has just been released. Each chapter has been rewritten, expanded or revised to bring the updated book and share new ideas and practices to help us all live well, even if our health is less than ideal.

To celebrate the release of the book-it was much more work than I thought it would be! -I made a list of seven suggestions to make peace with chronic pain and disease. They are all explored more in the new edition.

1. Blaming yourself for what has happened is misguided because pain and disease are part of life.

Once I realized that all face health challenges at some point in life, I stopped blaming myself for chronic getting sick (chronic disease includes chronic pain). Letting go of guilt was accompanied by a feeling of tremendous relief, because I no longer thought that life was unfair to me or that it had been pointed out in some way.

It is very difficult to deal with the daily challenges of pain and/or disease. When we add the blame to the equation, our mental suffering multiplies several times. But this is a kind of suffering that we can do something with. We simply need to be honest with ourselves about the human condition: all are subject to injury and disease; It’s a condition of being alive. For me, being alive is a gift (even if it is mysterious!) and that means I want to find ways to live as rich and fulfill a life as I can within my limitations. There is no way to avoid it: Chronic disease has drastically limited what I can do, but it’s not my fault.

2. Accepting that life is uncertain and unpredictable is the first step to making peace with your circumstances.

If we had control over our lives, we would make sure that all our experiences were enjoyable. But the fact is, more often than not, we do not get what we want (or obtain what we do not want). In the first blush, this may sound like a dark view of the world. It’s not for me though, because I’d rather know what to expect than to live in ignorance and be continually disappointed when things don’t come out the way I would like them to.

Accept that life is uncertain and unpredictable, and that a consequence of that is that we will not always get our way, open the door to a life with serenity. By serenity, I mean a calm and balanced state of mind that is capable of graciously accepting whatever comes to us. This is a high order, but in my experience it is also the way to peace. “Path” is the operative word here. I’m not always fair, but I’m committed to the road.

3. It is natural to feel alone when it is suddenly isolated.

Many of us were forced to abandon active work and social lives by relative isolation. Such a drastic change can be traumatic and bring about a loneliness that we’ve never felt before. With time and an effective set of practices, we can turn this loneliness into a peaceful feeling of loneliness much of the time. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with feeling lonely sometimes. I still do, although I have written extensively about it. When loneliness pays a visit, I treat her like an old (if not guest) friend and do something soothing until that happens.


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