It has been great to see people who’ve reliably cheered for those living with chronic pain, through the advocacy work of others, finally speak up for themselves. At the same time, I am seeing people trying to convince the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) committee members that we are suffering in pain—not drug seekers. It reminds me of the quote by Dale Carnegie, “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.”

Fighting to be heard

Being in advocacy meetings and testifying federally and on the state level, on a multitude of pain challenges and policies, I have learned that there is a better way to approach this.

“Once we get on the inside we can strategically move towards making changes over time.”

I have gone to these legislative meetings where minds were made up before we arrived—before we testified. They gave us our 2 to 5 minutes to speak and then went with the decision they were set to go with before the meeting started.

How can we be heard? When it comes to legislation, we need to work to get into committee meetings before the hearings. We also need to show up at the committee hearings and press conferences for bills at our state capitals. They need guidance before the hearings happen.

Being ahead of the curve

Share social media posts and call the legislator's offices and send letters, before the hearing. It is very difficult to change a legislator's mind at the hearing. I have seen sessions where it was 10 to 1 and the legislator sides with the one.

We have to get them before the hearings. We can also get placed onto legislative committees, CDC committees, etc. Once we get on the inside we can strategically move towards making changes over time. This is something that will take time to do, but it is most effective in making a meaningful lasting change.

If you want a beef brisket, go to where you can get one; don’t spend time going to where you know it is not sold. The same concept can be applied to finding the right provider for you. If you read their website and they don’t offer the treatment you would like to try, find one who does. You will have a better chance of being heard, bettering the pain community and making a difference that can be lasting and effective.