The MHS Journals

Our blog archive of insights and intel


Identity and Pain

Mar 1, 2024

It can be easy for individuals with chronic conditions to begin to identify as a “patient.” With long lists of diagnoses, extensive testing, and multiple appointments every week it can feel like all that person does is focus on their pain and become one with their pain. It is also common for individuals with chronic pain to feel disengaged from their hobbies and support networks, as activity can lead to flare-ups and cancellation of plans.
When pain gets in the way of living up to these experiences, it is important to find a way to modify the way you participate instead of not participating at all. There are also times where you will need to expand your horizons and explore new ideas. When you find yourself feeling shut down and frustrated, give yourself some compassion and work towards identifying a new way to approach your interests: “It is so frustrating that I can’t do this the way I’d like to right now, and I understand why I feel shut down. Is there anything I can change with how I participate so that I can still stay connected to what gives me meaning?”
When you start to identify as your pain, it can be easy to focus on all of the things that one “can’t do” anymore and lose sight of what builds meaning and what one “can do.” Consider the idea that you are an individual who lives with pain, and struggles with pain, but you are not your pain. You have your own set of values, roles, and interests, and this is what makes you unique.
**This blog entry could easily add a link to an entry about tips for modifying activities, and then refer to that blog entry as well.