Coping with Pain: 7 Principles to Staying Strong

Coping with Pain: 7 Principles to Staying Strong

Learning how to respond to pain is a critical life skill.

I’m a baby about pain. I don’t fear dying, but I admit that I do fear suffering.

Yet I know—and you probably would agree—that it is during times of pain and suffering that we grow the most. Capitalizing on the opportunity to grow requires that you have a perspective that inspires positive response, instead of negative reaction. You must seek and cling to hope.


hope in spite of pain

A friend of mine is experiencing pain right now. What seemingly began as a cold the day before Thanksgiving was rapidly and surprisingly diagnosed as Acute Myeloid Leukemia by December 5th. In-patient chemo began immediately. As expected, the side effects of intensive chemo include pain.

Head cold…. 10 days … Leukemia diagnosis.

Gut punch—and opportunity.

What follows are my friend Stan Stanek’s reflections* as posted on CaringBridge, shared with his permission.

At some point, you will come to realize that living the good life involves some amount of necessary pain, and that there are more flavors of pain than ice cream and coffee combined.

Everyone is down on pain, and when we experience it, we usually say we’re having a bad day, because we forget something important about what we’re going through: Pain is for the living—for those of us who still have the chance of a lifetime.  

So with this in mind, here are seven smart ways to stay strong when life inflicts pain:

1. View every challenge as an educational assignment.

Ask yourself: “What is this situation meant to teach me?” Every situation in our lives has a lesson to teach us. Some of these lessons include: To become stronger. To communicate more clearly. To trust your instincts. To express your love. To forgive. To know when to let go. To try something new.

2. Remind yourself that you are not alone.

There are others out there experiencing the same emotions. When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it is your mind trying to sell you a lie.

3. Focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.

You are who you are and you have what you have, right now. And it can’t be that bad, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to read this. The important thing is simply to find one POSITIVE thought that inspires and helps you move forward. Hold on to it strongly, and focus on it.

4. Emotionally separate yourself from your problems.

You are a living, breathing human being who is infinitely more complex than all of your individual problems added up together. And that means you’re more powerful than them—you have the ability to change them, and to change the way you feel about them.

5. Consciously nurture your inner hope.

A loss, a worry, an illness, a dream crushed—no matter how deep your hurt or how high your aspirations, do yourself a favor and pause at least once a day, place your hands over your heart and say aloud, “Hope lives here.”

6. Find a reason to laugh.

Laugh at yourself often. Find the humor in whatever situation you’re in. Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.

7. Ask positive questions.

If you ask negative questions, you will get negative answers. There are no positive answers to, “Why me?” “Why didn’t I?” “What if?” etc. Would you allow someone else to ask you the demoralizing questions you sometimes ask yourself? I doubt it. So stop and swap them for questions that push you in a positive direction. For instance, “What can I do right now to move forward?”

What an incredible reminder to choose response over reaction, embracing the opportunity to become stronger, deeper in faith, more compassionate and caring. Thank you, Stan, Sue and the whole Stanek family, for sharing your journey through CaringBridge and allowing me to share these precious words.

*Stan’s reflections were inspired and adapted from a blog post written by life coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff.

QUESTION: If you or a loved one have found hope and value during a time of physical pain, would you please share your story and inspire others via social media? Please share this post with your comment.



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