Talking About Your Pain

Talking About Pain: The Way You Tell Your Story Can Make or Break Relationships – July 25, 2016 – By Jenni Grover Prokopy

Most people, when asked about their chronic pain or illness, launch into a list of ailments, symptoms, and challenges. I don’t blame them!

But sometimes we overdo it and overwhelm people.

That’s why I’ve got my “mini pain story.”

I’m not hiding anything; I’m not shying away from reality. But I’m starting the conversation in a way that opens the door for folks to ask more questions, or for them to move along if they’re not interested.

But timing is everything. If we want to make more friends; find love; and inspire change in our society, we need to learn how and when to open up.  

The “how”

If you’ve never written an elevator speech before, the concept is pretty simple: Imagine the amount of time you might spend with a stranger in an elevator—15 seconds? maybe 30?—and aim for that.

You want to be clear, concise, and offer one or two main facts. You want to make a good impression, so don’t focus only on your pain; put it in context.

Try writing yours out and practice saying it out loud.

The “When”

But when’s the right time to start a conversation with someone?

Close friends and family

try your elevator speech on them.

And ask how they are doing.

Co-workers and acquaintances

I recommend Rosalind Joffe’s terrific blog, where she addresses workplace legal and HR concern

In general, if a co-worker asks how you are, a one-line explanation should suffice.


Sometimes, I choose not to offer any info to strangers

But some days, if a stranger asks how I’m doing, I take the opportunity to practice my “mini pain story.”

Policy makers and legislators

If you’re eager to exercise your advocacy muscles, consider reaching out to your representatives to discuss pain-related legislation.

The State Pain Policy Advocacy Network can get you up to speed on issues in your area, and put you in contact with the right people.

Write out your “mini pain story” and your specific request (“I ask you to support House Bill X”) in advance, and start dialing.

The long-term impact of your story

You’ll meet fellow pain patients and form bonds. You’ll turn acquaintances into allies for our cause. You’ll influence legislation that helps our community

Check out the full story:

Jenni Grover Prokopy founded in 2005 and has been a boisterous advocate for people with chronic pain and illness ever since.

A professional speaker and writer with more than 25 years of experience, Jenni believes all people have a story worth telling.

She lives in Chicago with her fiancée, Joe, and enjoys gardening, quilting, and five-minute dance parties in her living room. She is also a pain ambassador for the US Pain Foundation.  


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