One problem is that even if pain temporarily sidelines the superachiever, that person's underlying mindset doesn't disappear. It just lays low until pain takes a brief vacation.
Too many bad days in a row can leave a lot undone, making a pain sufferer feel overwhelmed and melancholy. Cowan says chronic pain demands a clear eye for priorities, which is why she suggests that the pain patient make lists. "Set realistic goals for yourself," she says, "and narrow them down to a point where you're not going to set yourself up for failure."
Accepting your limits is critical
Judy, 49, who runs a headache support group in Nashua, N.H., has taken the "right to do less" mantra to heart. But it's not easy if the price is a less tidy home.