Attitudes of Gratitude with Chronic Pain
As we approach days of Thanksgiving in the U.S., I’m delighted to share with you a spirited conversation I had with Lauren Zalewski about “Gratitude Leads to Resilience” for her online Attitudes of Gratitude with Chronic Pain group. Here’s the link.
After a 5-minute intro about Lauren’s programs and groups, we talked about:
What resilience is: bouncing back and bouncing forward skillfully and quickly with the response flexibility innate in our brain.
Consciousness, compassion, and connection as key to resilience, and gratitude key to all three of those.
Negativity shrinks our capacity to be resilient; gratitude re-opens the perspective to the larger picture. In fact, a measurable outcome of practicing positive emotions like gratitude is resilience.
The ABC model of aware, allow, accept; be with, befriend; compassion, care, curiosity to work with the contraction of chronic pain
Gratitude allows us to shift to a resilience mindset or growth mindset where we can expand beyond our comfort zone and take risks, and we learn that we can.
We learn to be grateful not for tragic events but for our response to those events. How you respond to the issue…is the issue. – Frankie Perez
The pandemic may have helped expand our perspective, too. Everybody was affected, and gratitude for everything that is going more than all right could open us up to the larger, even spiritual perspective again.
Mindful self-compassion as a powerful practice to be aware (mindful) and accepting (compassion) of whatever we are experiencing, and our reactions to what we are experiencing.
That “even though….I deeply and completely love and accept myself” can become a new automatic habit of the brain and a new narrative about ourselves.
When we are contracted in a stress body or a pain body, acts of kindness and altruism toward others help us find the larger perspective and a larger story about ourselves again
Hanging out with other resilient people helps us see ourselves as resilient, too. And pruning overly negative people, or re-directing them to be solution-oriented, is sometimes essential to stay out of the negativity bias ourselves.
Meaning is an internal resource of happiness and often is more effective in being resilient than looking for happiness externally.
Modern neuroscience has helped re-define trauma from the event to our response to the event, and encourages us to create narratives that include the traumatic event but view ourselves as larger than the trauma.
When empathizing with other people’s pain, it’s important to have good boundaries; to be affected but not infected.
Lauren and I also shared our own stories of how a gratitude practice helped us cope with “disappointments, difficulties, and even disasters.” A thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening conversation. May you find it enjoyable and enlightening as well. Link again.