Adjusting your attitude after injury - how to keep on top after a shoulder dislocation
Our Shoulder Braces Blog & News

Adjusting your attitude after injury - how to keep on top after a shoulder dislocation

by Margie Olds

Attitude Adjustment

Keeping a positive attitude can be a major challenge while experiencing the rigors of rehabilitation after your shoulder injury and/or surgery. If you find yourself struggling to think positive thoughts, you might benefit from an attitude adjustment. Maintaining a sense of humor and making meaning of your experience are two paths to a more positive and productive state of mind.

Maintaining a Sense of Humor

Attitude Adjustment GirlYou may have lost more than a ligament when you dislocated your shoulder. Some individuals find that their sense of humor is also a casualty of the injury. Suddenly, it can feel as though life has gotten awfully serious and that there’s not much to laugh about. But there are many reasons why this is an especially good time to make the restoration of your sense of humor a high priority.

A sense of humor makes everything in life better. In the middle of good laugh, it’s impossible to feel stressed, as you put your problems in perspective. In addition to improving the quality of life, numerous studies have demonstrated the relationship between emotions and health. Positive emotions have been linked to fewer complications of surgery and faster healing.

Laughter probably represents the ultimate in positive emotions. During a good laugh, breathing becomes deeper and more spasmodic, and heart rate and blood pressure increase. Various organs, including the lungs, heart, liver, and diaphragm, are given a workout. After the laughing episode, these organs relax and blood pressure actually falls below normal for nearly an hour. During and after hearty laughter, we feel good because endorphins are released. Endorphins are sometimes referred to as “nature’s opiates” because of the feeling of euphoria they produce.

So how do you go about finding laughs and maintaining your sense of humor? The usual suspects—funny magazines, books, television shows, and movies—are a good place to start. Seek out friends with whom you’ve shared laughter in the past and hang out with them. Let them help you get in the mood to laugh and smile your way to better knee health. Go to a park and people watch for a while. The fresh air may do you some good and you are likely to witness a few events that are sure to make you grin, if not laugh out loud. Shopping malls can be similarly entertaining. The basic idea is for you to put yourself in situations where you don’t end up taking yourself—and your shoulder—so seriously.

Humor can be a powerful antidote for fear and depression. By making light of our pain, we know that we are not alone the moment we share the humor of life with another human being.

Making Meaning of Your Experience

Attitude Adjustment CoupleMost people approach their rehabilitation or surgery, as something they must endure. Since you first dislocated your your ACL, there may be many times of feeling, “All I want is for my life--and my shoulder--to be the way it was.” In the midst of any crisis, it is hard to imagine that one day you may look back and recognize that the entire experience was valuable. It may sound ludicrous now, but down the road you might even be grateful that it happened to you.

The shoulder dislocation presents you with an opportunity. You didn’t ask for it, you didn’t want it, but it is here nevertheless. Why not make the most of it?

Your usual routine is probably out of whack. At least for the time being, you can’t just set your life on automatic pilot and mindlessly go about your life. For a short while, you may have to watch every step that you take.

Although these changes can feel very frustrating, it also presents a situation filled with potential. The kind of attention your life now seems to demand can make you more aware, more mindful, of yourself and your surroundings. It can add a richness to your life as you become more focused on the present moment.

As a result of your shoulder dislocation, many of the situations you find yourself in now are probably new to you. New situations cause us to focus more intently in the present moment. For example, you may have your arm in a sling. If so, you may notice that many people are reacting to you in a different way than usual. You may see more acts of kindness from others. You may realize that this compassion makes you feel good and it wouldn’t be surprising if the kindness coming your way makes you want to pass some of it on to others.

Attitude Adjustment HumorThe amount of physical exercise you get is probably another change in your life. If your cardiovascular activity level has lessened, you may be dealing with emotions that are new to you. The physiological effects of less activity combined with the psychological impact of attempting to cope with the injury may be causing you to feel more depressed and/or anxious than you are accustomed to.

These emotions are difficult but they can also serve as a catalyst. As you attempt to understand how you can feel better, you may gain some real insight about the relationship between your mind and body. This new understanding can be empowering. You may recognize that your attitude isn’t simply something that happens to you and that ultimately you do have a lot of control over your attitude and the quality of your life.

Attitude Adjusment Humor 2When you pay attention, you see that your body and mind are affected by what you put into it (e.g. food, alcohol, drugs as well as the thoughts and images). Though it is more subtle, you may even come to recognize that these factors influence the healing of your knee. Similarly, you can begin to see your whole world through a new, simplified lens: “What is good for me and what isn’t?” You may recognize that certain activities and relationships nourish you and facilitate your healing while other ones are depleting. As a result, for example, you may end up spending more time with people who are encouraging and nourishing and less time with those who are negative.

The shoulder dislocation may mark the first time in your life that anything significant has gone wrong with your body. It may put you in touch with a basic truth: As human beings, our bodies are indeed vulnerable. Your basic understanding of this reality makes you a little less naïve, a little wiser. But acceptance of this inevitable truth, that our bodies are finite is not easy. It may cause you to feel a new type of stress.

We have provide you with a Guided Imagery Program (coming online in 2024) that can help minimize your stress. The guided imagery sessions are specifically designed for the time you are healing from your injury and surgery. If you use the recordings regularly, your experience throughout the rehabilitation process is likely to be easier. There is also solid scientific evidence that surgical patients who feel less stress experience fewer complications, less pain, and faster healing. You can use the basic relaxation technique featured in the guided imagery sessions to help you to control stress for the rest of your life.

No question about it—your shoulder dislocation, the rehabilitation and or the surgery represent a challenge. You can choose to view the situation as a dreadful ordeal while you count the minutes until your shoulder seems healed. Or you can view the experience as an adventure with the potential to help make you a stronger and wiser human being.


This excerpt has been taken from advice after an ACL surgery, and many of the aspects apply to people with a shoulder dislocation. Thanks to the team from Support for Sport for sharing their information and knowledge

Related Articles
Phases of rehabilitation after shoulder dislocation

Phases of rehabilitation after shoulder dislocation

Read more
Relaxation and Imagery Resources for after Shoulder Dislocation  - Surgical Pathway

Relaxation and Imagery Resources for after Shoulder Dislocation - Surgical Pathway

Read more
Online Resources for People who have had a Shoulder Dislocation

Online Resources for People who have had a Shoulder Dislocation

Read more