July 8th, 2009

Pain Management Class #8

Pain Management Class #8

In today's pain management class, we looked at the issue of communicating needs and wishes in a relationship, with the concept of assertive communication from last week's class still in mind.

The model for communicating we learned about today is "I statements":

When [describe situation],

I feel [one word for emotion]

because [state reason],

and what I would like is [propose a solution].

We begin with an "I" statement instead of something like "You always . . . " to avoid putting the other person on the defensive, making it easier to have a dialog and more difficult to have an argument.

We should use only one word to describe the emotion we're feeling, to keep it simple and stay focused and not have it escalate into a rant.

The solution we propose should be as neutral as possible.

For example, if I had a close friend or family member who kept on asking me if I was better yet and it annoyed me, it would not be a good idea for me to say to them, "You're always on my case about getting better! I hate it! Why are you pressuring me? Why can't you just accept that it's going to take a long time?", etc. Using today's model, it would be better to say, "When I'm repeatedly asked if I'm getting any better or not, I feel upset, because I'm working as hard as I can with my team of pain management doctors and it's going to be a long process. I can't get better according to a schedule. I'd like to feel like I have your support, and I'd like to feel like you accept me anyway even if I'm not 'all better' right away." This makes it easier for the other person to hear the point you're trying to make instead of feeling personally attacked for something they may very likely not even understand is an issue for you.

This communication model can also be used for positive situations, when you want to express gratitude or appreciation. In this case using "You" instead of "I" is recommended, because you won't be putting the other person on the defensive. "Honey, when you wash the dishes every day after dinner I feel grateful, because it's painful for me to be on my feet that long to do them and I know it's not a whole lot of fun for you either, but it makes things so much easier for me, and I really appreciate it," etc.

Next week we will look at handling a pain flare. There will also be a review of all the previous classes, since it will be the final class. It hardly seems like 8 weeks have gone by. We began our first session with 12 people; by the second week we dropped to 6, and lately it's just been 5 of us showing up. I can understand why so many dropped out after the first class. I myself was skeptical, but after the second class I began to see that there was something worthwhile to be learned, so I decided to stick around for the rest. It's been worth the risk of investing the time and mental effort to stay for the whole shebang.