Thinking constructively means developing beliefs and attitudes that help you cope with pain in a more useful way. For example, a belief that managing pain is totally the responsibility of your health-care provider may limit you from adopting healthy behaviors that are known to help with self management of pain. 

Suggestions for thinking constructively

Take some time to review the following pain beliefs. For those that seem true for you, try to think of a more constructive way to think about that issue. For each belief, we have included at least one suggestion to help you get started. You can use that suggestion or come up with your own constructive way of thinking about the issue.

My pain makes it impossible to do anything constructive or enjoyable.

Suggested alternative: Challenge the assumption that being productive or happy is not possible with pain. Start by taking note of the activities you are still able to do. For activities you previously enjoyed, explore ways to creatively modify them so participation is still possible. Begin to also notice pleasurable, satisfying, or even joyful moments you've experienced since the pain condition began. 

It is primarily the responsibility of my health-care provider to relieve pain.

Suggested alternative: Start to notice and think more about small, temporary ways you have been able to manage pain. Try to implement more of these small measures into your daily life. Talk with your health-care provider about ways to build on your personal strategies and ways to combine them with medical interventions to achieve the best outcome. 

It is best to avoid all painful activity so I do not cause more injury.

Suggested alternative: Ask your health-care providers about what exercises and activities are safe and what kinds of pain and soreness are just harmless signs that you are beginning to use your body more. Once you have the knowledge, practice thinking of soreness as a sign of progress.

My attitudes and emotions don't affect how much I suffer from my pain.

Suggested alternative: Recognize that pain is a process influenced by attitudes and emotions. Recall the stress-tension-pain cycle described in the Ease Tension section of this guide. Think of examples of how your pain or your ability to cope with it seems to change with stress or strong emotions. Then, think about ways to manage emotions or attitudes that seem to negatively influence your ability to manage your pain.

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