Two Words That Matter

This week I have two very interesting articles, each with different topics. The first article is from a counselor about a patient who felt diminished by cancer and how that changed her approach to others. The second article is about how being intrinsically motivated, in any aspect of life, results in greater purpose and achievements. Diminished and Motivation – two words on opposite ends of the spectrum but often tied to one another. Below you’ll find these articles and my thoughts on their implications.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed below are those of Mark Pew, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Preferred Medical.

The one word that carries so much weight in the cancer experience 

A clinical nurse specialist at a large regional cancer center in Canada tells the story of one of her cancer patients. He used the word “diminished” to describe himself after receiving and living with his cancer diagnosis. It’s this one word that has now impacted the way she provides care to other patients.

Mark’s Thoughts:
That one word—diminished (“made smaller or lesser”)—can also be applicable if you substitute “Chronic Pain” for “Cancer.” The inability to do what you once did can have a BIG emotional and psychological impact. If you’re in that situation—alongside other descriptive words like Helpless, Angry, Depressed, Isolated, Embarrassed—reach out for help. Do not let those words define you. What makes “diminished” even more dangerous is when it’s not just about the present but the foreseeable future. In that scenario, “diminished” can mean “done.” How do you deal with a long-term situation where you cannot do what you used to do / want to do? The answer is to strive to make the “new normal” the best it can be. I know many people who have done just that, and in most cases their “new normal”—albeit different—is even better than their “old normal.” If you’re having a hard time with it, seek a professional that can offer Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to help you “learn to stop avoiding, denying, and struggling with their inner emotions and, instead, accept that these deeper feelings are appropriate responses to certain situations that should not prevent them from moving forward in their lives.” Just because you are physically diminished does not mean your life or your aspirations has to be.

Intrinsic Motivation

Children are naturally interested in exploring their environment and learning how everything works. This is called intrinsic motivation. However, it is often found that a reward culture takes over in many classrooms. Those who are learning what they want to learn are more intrinsically motivated, with a study cited by the BBC showing higher levels of reading comprehension over those students who have other motivations. Ultimately, this same concept can be applied in the workplace. Employees who are engaged, educated about their work and the impact it has on the customer will feel a greater sense of purpose and thus accomplish more. For those in chronic pain that may feel diminished, there is a need to strive to discover the inner drive that creates the intrinsic motivation to find their “new normal.”

Mark’s Thoughts:
Great article from Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims (aka David Langham, Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims at the Division of Administrative Hearings). Some people are more naturally “intrinsically motivated” while others can build it up over time thru various circumstances. Ultimately it comes down to doing something because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to. Knowing your purpose in life and then aligning everything you do to that will create motivation. When it comes to Chronic Pain, that means doing the little things—the minute-by-minute details—right. Stretching hurts. Not eating that dessert is a bummer. Practicing gratitude may not be natural. But doing them—even (especially) when nobody else is looking—means it’s now an intrinsic (“belonging naturally; essential”) part of your life. Find what gives your life meaning. Then. Do. It.

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Until Next Week,