Pain management and the mind
Something that has always intrigued me is the way in which our mind works when it comes to pain management. We tend to identify ourselves with pain, especially when we suffer from chronic pain or a chronic illness, we identify ourselves in this way and build a story around the pain or illness.
When I began to understand how my mind works, I started to realise that my reality is created from the passing thoughts of every moment that I experience and this changes from moment to moment. So, in one moment I am happy but in the next, I could be sad and the next ecstatic, the next depressed and then suicidal. I go through the whole spectrum of emotions every single day.
The other day I went for a morning walk. I had a fuzzy head and I realised that I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, I am going to feel like this all day long”. I hadn’t slept very well the night before and I had had a glass of wine too so thought I was going to feel fuzzy the rest of the day.
However, I suddenly realised that my experience was changing. I was playing with the dog, I met another dog walker and spoke with them and I paused for a moment and thought, how is my head? The realisation hit me that in that moment of talking to the other person and playing with the dog I didn’t feel fuzzy at all. So, I realised that once again my experiences keep changing and I wasn’t the same person I had been 5 minutes ago.
Just because I had a fuzzy head because I slept badly or had one glass of wine too many did not mean I was going to live in that experience all day. I was only feeling fuzzy-headed when I thought about it. Because thoughts change from moment to moment.
I used to experience pain when I was running, it wasn’t chronic pain, but it wasn’t nothing either. Oddly enough, I only really experienced the pain when I thought about it. Now, you can question, what is faster – my pain or the thoughts of my pain? When you start playing with this thought, you begin to realise that you cannot experience pain without thinking about it.
So, I went for a run, looked at the countryside and (formed) other thoughts paths within my mind. I then thought about how the pain was in my ankle and realised that the pain changed and wasn’t there all of the time. I found the changes really interesting and the fact that I can only experience the sensations of my 5 senses through the power of thought.
What do I mean? Take for example you right now sitting in that chair. Now, do you have your back on the chair? Is it free? Is your bottom comfortable where you are sitting? And you suddenly start to feel your back and bottom on the chair you’re sitting at. This is because all your neural endings start to put their feelers out and communicate with the parts of you making contact with that chair. However, until I made you aware, you were not even aware of sitting in the chair. It is all down to thought. You can only have awareness when accompanied by thought. You can only take things in with the power of thought.
It works the same way with pain. You can only realise your pain with the power of thought and the same with chronic illness. I am not saying that there is nothing there and that nothing is happening, only that you must be aware of it in order to experience it. If you went to the cinema you would feel all sorts of emotions about the film but you would be focused on the film and the likelihood is that you wouldn’t feel your illness or pain because you wouldn’t be giving your thoughts to it so you could feel maybe even joy.
I am not the person with a chronic illness. I am the person who experiences chronic illness or pain in a specific given moment. The next moment I will experience something else. This realisation granted me the freedom to break away from the shackles of chronic illness and the labels it gave me. That I was different from moment to moment.
This also allowed me to realise that I wasn’t in pain all the time, it just can seem like it some times and so the pain was manageable.
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