Dr. Wright shares how advocates can communicate compassionately with people in chronic pain.
To be compassionate to a chronic pain patient is to be candid and to not walk on eggshells. One of the phenomena of pain is that your nerve endings are very sensitive and there’s, they are highly receptive to energy fields, especially if they are not on medication or they are on minimal medication. There is just a high sensitivity. So being as direct and straightforward and as honest as possible and being skillful, not to be unkind, but being very specific. “What can I do for you? Please give me directions.”
Asking for directions helps the patient formulate their needs. Very often the pain can diffuse what they just feel uncomfortable, but when you say, “Would you like me to get thus and such? Would it be helpful if. . . ?” Give them some suggestions and then, allow them, with your own deep listening and observational skills, provide what is being asked for.
And use humor whenever possible, and usually with pain patients, humor is a great relief because when you have humor, you are distracted and you are out of pain consciousness. And you are back into the present moment, and that moment of pleasantness, that moment of humor radiates throughout the whole body.
I loved what Norman Cousins said; he said "laughing was internal jogging." So whenever you are in pain, the more you can jog on the inside, the better off you are. It releases endorphins and it creates an openness, and it’s very hard to laugh when you are all like this. It creates an openness of space.
About Dr. Barbara Wright, Ph.D.:
Barbara Wright, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist based in Laguna Beach, California. She has been in private practice for over 30 year. During this time she has developed a method and system of compassionate communication for skillful conflict resolution, be it intrapersonal or interpersonal for individuals, couples, families, as well as schools and corporative situations. This method Metta4All, is the culmination of her life’s work as a speech therapist and clinical psychologist.