How a Positive Attitude Helps You
If you have chronic pain, then you must first accept it. Only then can you explore ways to make it better. Knowing you can make it better creates hope, which in turn helps you get better. You need both acceptance and Optimism.
In my practice, I see many people who are in complete despair. Fortunately, they do not have any life threatening, or limb threatening problems. Wear and tear of their discs, ligaments and bones cause a constant pain. This loss of vigor, loss of ability to do what they once could do, causes angst.
The psychologic component of this can be significant and destructive.
First, lets talk about the physical component. While it is true that some have a profound injury that caused impairment and chronic pain, it is also more likely that the constant pain, and the loss of prior strength, and stamina is also part of the aging process.
There is only one way to avoid aging. And, it is not a good one. Most would rather live measured but longer, than to pass away young, and vigorous.
So why are we having this conversation?
It is because how you deal with your life changes matter.
Forget all the philosophical discussions about fairness, or genetics or luck. Each of use are dealt with circumstances not in our control. We did not choose our parents, or determine when, or where we were to be born.
But, in each time, there are those who persevered, and excelled, while others faded away.
IT turns out attitude matters and how we cope with adversity determines our outcomes.
As a physician, I see it first hand.
The most impaired are those who have a chronic condition, who do not accept the circumstance. While an attempt should be made to make sure there is solution for the problem, if the condition is one associated with aging, like arthritis, disc degeneration, then those who do better accept the status. By accepting the condition, the focus can then turn to how to remain active, functional and productive even with the condition.
Yes, I know there may have been an event that accelerated the development of the wear and tear. But you cannot go back in time to erase that event. It is a hard truth. I do not blame anyone for avoiding that reality. But it will always be there.
By focusing on how to remain productive despite the condition, the small victories associated with returning to activities give a sense of improvement. It provides hope for a better life.
Without this hope, it is easy for people to get stuck in their despair. Accepting, allows the focus to change to what a person can do to overcome their complaint. Acceptance can lead to improvement, function, engagement with others, and a return to a sense of vigor, and productivity. It is a focus on the positives. It brings Optimism back. It is an attitude that produces patience, and thankfulness of improvements. It is a maturity of thought, and provides grit, when there are set backs.
I often tell people expect a two steps forward, and one step recovery. If there is no confidence, hope or optimism of the future, the step back can be devastating for some.
With maturity and experience, there can be confidence that the step backwards will be temporary.
While I am looking at this from a chronic pain perspective, I am reminded that this attitude helps many navigate the many life events that is part of our human existence.
I know this was a bit different from many of my other Spine related videos. At the same time, these lessons of attitude, hope and optimism is necessary while I counsel many who’s complaints are about life, in the form of a spine issue.
To sum it up, many health issues are related to the process of natural wear and tear. That is called aging. it is impossible to stay young forever. Denying that fact leads to despair. The goal is not to prevent getting old. The goal is to age gracefully.
This video is made in late April 2020. We are in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. This discussion about acceptance and optimism holds true even in this circumstance.
Accept what needs to be accepted. Then be optimistic that we, as a Society will overcome.
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Last modified: July 2, 2020
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