Pain like knives jabbing into my spine in the area between my shoulder blades has plagued me off and on for a month and a half and then intensified over the last couple of weeks.
It's been frustrating because it's very uncomfortable. And even made me a little afraid sometimes because I'm used to occasionally having pain but it typically subsides within a day or so after some trigger point therapy or a trip to the chiropractor. I've never had chronic pain and absolutely don't want to start now.
On Tuesday, I chose to take about three hours out of my work day to go to a new doctor who I thought could help with addressing the root issues. I found myself on the surface being matter-of-fact about needing to spend this time and money to get the help I needed. But underneath the surface on my 40-minute drive to his office, I realized I was angry and frustrated:
- I was angry that I was in pain.
- I was anxious that I needed to spend so much time out of my work week to get help.
- I was frustrated that I was spending money on things that helped somewhat but didn't totally solve the problem.
- And I was mad at my body for not just working properly as I'm accustomed to it working.
Can you relate? Is there any area of pain in your life physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually that just makes you angry?
Once I acknowledged these negative emotions, which I hadn't even realized were there, I was able to shift to a healthier, happier perspective about them. So much so that on Wednesday morning, all the pain wasn't gone but my attitude was fantastic! Negativity obliterated.
Here are the three shifts that really helped me that may help you if you're also experiencing some pain right now:
1) Pain is a Gift
I completely understand that pain doesn't always feel like a gift. Right now, I wish as I was typing this to you that I was feeling no pain in my upper back. But I still am.
However, it's true. Pain is a gift because it alerts us that something is wrong and forces us to make it a priority. There's no way that I would have spent the time and money I have over the past month and a half to try to get help if this pain wasn't driving me.
As my doctor said yesterday, "Pain is our body's check engine light."
If I didn't have pain, I would allow issues with my body to continue on completely unchecked. That ultimately could lead to much worse consequences.
So ask yourself: Is there an area of pain in my life right now? If so, what is that pain telling me needs to be addressed?
2) Pain Leads to Gratitude
I realized on my drive to the doctor on Tuesday that I had a huge entitlement mentality about my health. Because I've been incredibly fortunate to be overall healthy--only one surgery which involved a broken bone--and no medications or chronic illnesses, I really have not been grateful for my health. In fact, I've felt entitled to it and also been a bit perplexed by people who have to go to the doctor on a regular basis. I'm used to simple wellness check ups and that's it.
But boy has this last month and a half been different. I've been to four different doctors and realized how much I've taken for granted.
Now when I feel the pain in my back, I say a prayer of gratitude for my health and then pray for healing for myself and others who have back pain.
This saves me so much time and energy being angry and dramatically improves my mood.
So ask yourself: If you have a current area of pain, how could that pain be a reminder for gratitude?
3) Pain Tests Our Foundation
The chiropractor I saw on Tuesday took x-rays and found that I had a lot of "interesting features," which I told him made my skeleton sound like a tourist attraction.
But one of the most interesting things to me was that he believes a lot of the pain I'm experiencing in my upper back is actually resulting from my pelvis being off-kilter. Since my foundation was off-balance, my body did what it could to keep my eyes level. That meant compensating farther up my spine.
I believe that's a good life lesson. When we're in pain, we often try to attack the pain point and make it go away. (Understandable because sometimes it hurts like heck!) But the real root issue may be a bit deeper.
So ask yourself: Am I just addressing the surface pain or is there something deeper that needs to get rooted out?
I hope these insights help you or someone you care about who is in pain right now.
About Real Life E
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching company that empowers individuals who feel guilty, overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished. She is an expert on achieving more success with less stress. Real Life E® also encourages Christians to align themselves with God's heart through Divine Time Management.
McGraw Hill published her first book The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress. Harvard Business Review published her second book How to Invest Your Time Like Money. Hachette is publishing her third book, Divine Time Management. Elizabeth contributes to blogs like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Fast Company and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox.