The two previous posts have been about being motivated to change. With chronic pain, there is a temptation to lock oneself into a way of coping that feels safe or that fits one's self-image. The person who is locked into victim mode and staying ill in mind and spirit as well as in body is not that much different from the person who keeps going in denial, not acting the victim yet ending up fatigued, impatient, angry: intolerant and intolerable.
I know. I have been locked in both of these modes, and of course there are others - I just use those two for illustration purposes. For this post, the relevance of this insight is that even the motivation to change - in itself a very positive and pro-active decision - can become locked into that grasping, I-want-it mode that drains positive energy and obscures clear motivation.
For example: the moment I feel a bit better or have a day with low pain and some energy, I tend to rush into my activities with an almost giddy glee that is understandable yet counter-productive. It just feels so good to feel good! An hour or so later, when my head is pounding and exhaustion is mounting, I realize that needing so desperately to get things done because I am (finally!) feeling better is simply a poor choice, however natural a response it may seem.
This is where the envisioning expands to encompass allowing. It's a great thing to let go of a locked-in need, but not so helpful to then jump into yet another locked-in need to Be Productive or to Feel Responsible. When the motivation for change also encompasses allowing the change to unfold without grasping or manipulating it, then the resulting change is organic, free of needs and addictions. Organic change that is free of preconceptions and expectations is liberating and energetic in a way that my plans that follow my addictive needs never are.
It's not about censuring myself, or being mad and upset because I am once again prone on the couch with a throbbing head. It's about realizing there is another way to be in the desire for change: one moment at a time, steadily and with clear mind assessing the possibilities and then going into action. Perhaps that action will seem, in retrospect, a good choice, perhaps it will not. No matter: if that action has arisen out of a peaceful, not a needful, center, then retrospective assessment will also be peaceful. And that allows for further organic change that is aligned with quiet wisdom, which is so much more productive and compassionate than a clutching change that circles endlessly around unconscious needs.
Compassion. That is the concept to explore, along with its relation to being in chronic pain, in my next post.
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Carol D. Marsh
- With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90 days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.