When we have chronic pain, we tend to say “I can’t” a lot. I can’t go biking. I can’t go shopping. I can’t drive the car. What we might actually mean is that we cannot do these activities the way that we used to, the way that we are expected to, or the way that we want to.
Perhaps we truly cannot do any of the activities that we say we cannot do. But maybe, just maybe, we can do them but differently.
Take an example from yesterday: My back had been out for most of the previous week. When I woke up, it was still teetering on the verge of going out. But it was working well enough that I decided to take a shot at biking, doing it in a way that was safe:
Rather than biking 6 miles out and 6 miles back on the bike trail, I biked one mile out and one mile back. When I saw that I was fine at the trail entrance, I continued one mile in the other direction. I was going to come back after that mile as well, but I ended up feeling good and continuing several miles more.
All told, I biked 15.5 miles! I never would have thought I could have done that much yesterday, given how I was feeling before I started. If I had not broken down the activity into doable and safe pieces, I never would have discovered how much I actually was capable of.
So the next time you find yourself saying, “I can’t,” ask yourself instead, “How can I?”