Part of the pain management programme I’ve been on at the hospital was about recognising and overcoming problems. Follow the steps below:
1. Identify your emotions, and what negative thoughts and behaviours are linked to them.
2. Use those thoughts and emotions to identify your problem. Any problem, no matter how big or small, is valid, especially if it is affecting your pain, your mood, and your behaviour. When you’ve identified the problem you will be able to produce an aim to get rid of the problem.
3. Write down your problem and then write a massive list of possible solutions, ask other people, get as many ideas as possible on paper. The opinion of others is important as your own negative thoughts can prevent you from seeing different solutions.
4. Go through each solution on your list - does it help you achieve your aim? Does it directly tackle the problem? If it doesn’t cross it off. Then pick your top 3 solutions. Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.
5. Pick the top solution following your +/- list and make it SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding, and Time limited. Write down exactly HOW you are going to do it, WHO is going to do it/be involved, WHEN and WHERE will you do it, WHAT will you need? Is it achievable? How will you measure it and know that it is working/not working? What progress markers can you look out for? Do you have the skills, time and resources - if not then go back to the drawing board and pick a different solution, DO NOT set yourself up to fail! What will the benefits and rewards be if you put in the effort and are they worth the effort? If not you won’t commit to it so again, go back to the drawing board. When are you going to review it to see if it is working? How much time do you need to allow it?? Throughout this process you should be keeping a negative thought diary - write down all your negative thoughts, look back at them later and CHALLENGE them! Negative thoughts hold us back, slow us down, create more problems, attack our motivation, sap our energy and INCREASE our pain! But you CAN overcome this!