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Putting Myself In Their Shoes

I have seen hundreds of memes and blog posts asking those who don’t live with chronic pain to put themselves in our shoes. However, it is impossible to fully understand or relate to what it is like to live with constant physical pain if they have never experienced it. Instead, I have found putting myself into their shoes to be more effective.

I ask, “What bring you pleasure?”

When asked how living with psoriatic arthritis affects my life, I turn the table and ask them to share physical things that bring them pleasure. Then I explain how each of those activities increases my pain level. For example, they might say that they enjoy giving and receiving hugs. I then share that while I enjoy hugs on an emotional level, I experience pain in my shoulders, back, and neck. If someone shares that they find pleasure in knitting, I explain how the pain I experience from knitting goes beyond my aching hands as it also causes extreme tension in my back and neck. If they enjoy walks in the park, I explain how that same activity has resulted in my not being able to leave my bed for months. Because I live with some level of physical pain 24/7, there is nothing they can up with that doesn’t cause an increase of pain. Holding a baby, playing fetch with my dog, gardening, shopping, going out to eat, and yes even sex is painful.

Understanding what it’s like

By asking them to think about how the activities they consider to be pleasurable as forms of physical torture, they are more apt to understand what is like to walk in my shoes. Instead of trying to imagine what it is like to live with a painful chronic condition, it becomes personal as they are able to see how their lives would change if they had the same disease.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.