For the 100 million people suffering from chronic pain, the discomfort can feel overwhelming, like it’s here to destroy you and ruin your life.

You may feel like you want to cower in the face of it, hide until it goes away. Maybe you’re tired of telling people about it and trying to explain the unexplainable.

It’s time to rise up to the challenge of chronic pain. Be an advocate while improving your life and the lives of others!

Many chronic pain patients may wish their lives were different, wish they didn’t have chronic pain. These feelings are natural, but they make life with pain even more difficult to manage. It makes the journey of adopting healthier habits more difficult because resistance in one area of life creates resistance in other areas of life.

But by accepting that this is your path, your teacher, chronic pain can turn into a journey of hope and redemption.

For Pain Awareness Month, own your story and then share it with others.

Chronic pain can be a powerful teacher, and in the process you can teach others about not only pain, but about the power of love, compassion, and perseverance.

As a warrior who accepts the challenge of chronic pain, you can do so much good in the world. Stories touch hearts and that’s the best way to raise awareness. Heart to heart, one person’s view elevated at a time. Meanwhile, a person who resists the challenges of this lifetime gives away personal power and becomes powerless to effect change.

Changing the world starts inside.

The good news is that you do have power over pain. You may not be able to find a cure, but many chronic pain patients find the choices they make every day significantly influence how they feel. And some patients say the pain is their greatest teacher.

Anna Lovind writes on Huffington Post:

“When I’m disconnected, my body hurts more. When I ignore the signals from my body, it hurts more and more and more, until I can’t cope. When I slow down and sink into my heart, my belly, my pelvis, my feet—from here I can listen and respond—the pain softens and becomes bearable.”

And in that place of surrender, Lovind adds, she is better able to access her power. And in that place of power, the energy she puts into the world becomes more powerful.

You might feel it strange that an article on raising awareness begins with a conversation on changing how you feel on the inside, but all change in the outer world begins with shifts from within.

First consider that accepting, surrendering, and finding meaning in suffering is an important and effective method of reducing depression. If you feel depressed, you will not have the emotional or physical energy to raise awareness and work for change.

However, as you become more accepting and feel greater peace with the challenges life has presented to you, you’re better able to ignite compassion within the world. And raising awareness about pain is really about making the world a more compassionate place.

People who judge you and don’t honor your experiences because they feel you’re exaggerating or making them up lack compassion.

People who make you feel lazy or less than because you are suffering from a physical challenge only treat you that way because they lack compassion. Maybe they feel lazy or less than themselves and project that emotion onto you. Understand that through opening your heart to compassion toward yourself, you will be better able to manage those interactions in a way that opens each of you up to greater understanding.

Many people think of change as a fight. Fighting to raise awareness, fighting for a cure, but how you travel is how you arrive. Fighting only leads to more fighting. True transformation requires opening up to compassion, which you can then spread to the entire world.

Having compassion for yourself and owning your story as one of power and learning important life lessons helps you teach others, opening their hearts and minds.

By developing compassion for yourself and learning from your challenges, you become an unstoppable force for good and pain awareness.

So for Pain Awareness Month, we challenge you to inspire yourself, and in doing so, inspire others. Here’s how:

1. Post your story on social media

Can you identify a way pain has positively impacted your life? Maybe it’s made you appreciate your family more. Or maybe it’s required you to learn how to ask for help. Or prioritize what’s truly important. Challenge yourself to post weekly on social media about a personal struggle or lesson you have learned from pain. Use the hashtag #painawarenessmonth to connect with others posting.

Like, comment, and interact with others to strengthen the community and build the force of growing awareness. Feel free to tag other social media accounts when you post, including the official Pain Awareness Month social accounts like the American Chronic Pain Association’s Facebook page, or Arizona Pain’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

2. Start a conversation

Do you go to a yoga class or interact with hairdressers or other people on a regular basis? Start a conversation! Tell them, “Hey, it’s Pain Awareness Month, and I have this condition. Here’s what it’s called and these are some of my challenges. I’m just trying to raise awareness one person at a time.”

And when you talk to people like that, from a place of giving information and raising awareness, you can inspire people. Share the strength of your spirit and that strength will touch the hearts of others.

3. Create a YouTube video

No fancy equipment needed. You can even record on your phone or computer and upload to YouTube! Share your story. You may find this very therapeutic. Talk about your condition, what it’s been like, how it’s affected your life, and what you’ve learned from it.

4. Create art

Are you a writer? Write a blog post for your own blog or submit it to another! Do you like to create paintings or draw pictures? Create a piece that explores your feelings about chronic pain and see if a local café or restaurant will hang it on the wall. Any way that you can share your story and connect with others is great.

How do you plan to share your story? Begin here and share your story in the comments below!

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