Answering the Miracle Question with Chronic Pain

By Jeannette

The Miracle Question is a therapeutic question asked as part of Solution Focused Therapy. Solution Focused Therapy is a goal directed, future focused, collaborative and, of course, solution focused therapeutic method. The miracle question asks the client, “if you woke up one morning and a miracle occurred, what would be different so that you knew something amazing had happened?”

The therapist stays with the question even if the client describes an “impossible” solution, such as a deceased person being alive. They acknowledge that wish and then ask, “how would that make a difference in your life?” The client might describe that he or she might feel as if they have their companion back, and again, the therapist asks, “how would that make a difference?” With that, the client may say, “I would have someone to confide in and support me.” From there, the therapist would ask the client to think of others in the client’s life who could begin to be a confidant in a very small, similar manner.

This concept moves the client from a problem focused context into a visionary context where he or she has a moment of freedom to step out of the problem narrative and into a story where they are more problem free. But, more importantly, it helps the therapist and client to know exactly what the client wants from therapy (e.g. to build a support system and find companionship)… and this is what makes Solution Focused Therapy so efficient, successful, and brief.

If I am looking at my own life with chronic pain as the problem, certainly my miracle would be to wake up for once pain-free! I would know because I could just bound out of bed refreshed and get on with the business of living.

However, being without pain and chronic illness is quite unlikely, but what are the emotions, that I currently have, that would be absent? I would not wake up frustrated, guilt-ridden, or aggravated with my body and my perceived failures. I would feel anticipation and inner peace.

I then realized that I don’t give myself much peace throughout the entire day; I am punishing myself because I have chronic pain. I punish myself for my limits, or as I apparently have been telling myself, failure. I send myself many messages that are unhelpful.

Furthermore, I punish myself by not asking for the help I need and by shutting even the most compassionate people out, unless I trust that they can be forgiving of my perceived “failure.” If a miracle occurred, these personal messages would also stop.

Peace and self-love seem like the goals for me. What brings me peace? What actions will help me show love to myself for a change? Well, I certainly am not going to get there in one blog post. The first plan is “thought stopping,” nipping those nasty self-punishing thoughts I say to myself before the rumination starts!

Are you familiar with these thoughts?

“You’re weak; just push through.”

“You’re limits mean you are a loser.”

“Everyone is going to think your a whiner or complainer.”

“If you ask for help, they’ll just tell you you’re unworthy.”

“You are not worthy of the same support and love as others.”

I would never, ever think such things of another living soul, so why then do I tell them to myself? I have many hunches as to why, but that is not a question that needs to be answered in SFT.

What does have to happen is stopping these thoughts and changing the narrative…

“You are not weak, you are strong, you fight against pain and illness everyday and keep going.”

“Limits do not equate to losing, everyone on this planet has limits, no one is perfect. I utilize my strengths, that is what is important and am developing new strengths.”

“Sharing the reality of a situation, when asked, is not whining. Sharing with a trusted person in a safe space, your story is not complaining. Sharing to raise awareness and educate is not attention seeking. Speaking out to take some of our power back from pain, is not a bad thing.”

“Pain, illness, and limits do not make you an inherently flawed human. I am worthy of support, love, and help in times of struggle. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of an intelligent and brave acceptance that I can not nor should I have to control or manage everything alone.”

The next step is to stay away from people, places, and things that enable this self – punishing self-talk and behavior, and those who don’t accept that I’m doing my best.

I likely will never get the miracle of no pain and illness. However, maybe, my miracle can be to keep taking as much power back from pain as possible, to not let it steal from my mind and heart what it stole from my body.

What will your miracle be?

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