Here is another piece in my series on chronic pain. This one is about the role of forgiveness in healing chronic pain.
Before I get too far into this, I want to clarify some terms. Chronic pain is any physical, emotional, or spiritual pain that is felt 15 days out of 30 for three months or more. The kind of pain is indistinguishable to the brain. Pain of any kind sends the simple message: “It hurts.” Estimates by the National Institutes of Health reveal that one in every four Americans suffers from chronic pain.
Chronic pain and allostatic load
Chronic pain patients carry stress. The measure of the stress they have is termed the allostatic load. It is a determination of the cost to the body’s fluctuating or increased response by the nervous system to someone when they experience repeated or chronic environmental challenges. That’s a mouthful. It just means that chronic pain sufferers carry a lot, and the load contributes to our pain level. How we meet stress in life is part of the load, too.
How allostatic load showed up in me
As a chronic pain sufferer, I sure carried a lot. Of course, I didn’t realize it, but that didn’t matter. I still felt all that I was holding. It expressed itself as physical pain and a general uneasiness or restlessness. I felt pressure, and that led me to tense up my muscles. The tension led to friction in my body, leading to chronic inflammation. I suppressed what I was feeling, and since I had no clue what to do with any of it, the suffering of chronic pain entered my life. I had physical injuries, too, but the allostatic load contributed to why my body had such difficulty healing.
Healing chronic pain using non-pharmaceutical methods
All but one of the many doctors that treated me over the years prescribed opiates and benzodiazepines to help me cope with the pain. The last doctor that treated me for chronic pain knew well the dangers of these drugs and knew they were ill-suited to treat chronic pain. He used several non-pharmaceutical modalities to clear the weight of my allostatic load and heal the wounds it had caused in my body, such as Qi Gong, clearing adversity, mindfulness, and forgiveness. Here I address the importance of forgiveness in removing the burden of chronic pain.
The role of forgiveness in healing chronic pain
It never occurred to me that forgiveness would be such a key player in recovering from chronic pain. I was just used to dealing with life the only way I knew. Stuff happened. I experienced it. It felt uncomfortable. I had no clue what to do with all that discomfort, so I did what I thought everyone around me did – I pretended it wasn’t there. I distracted myself from feeling it. I even numbed it. I never healed the wounds that were created when I experienced adversity. I built up anger around all this burden I didn’t know what to do with beyond storing its stress inside my body. It never crossed my mind that this was something that forgiveness could help remedy.
Fear, letdown, anger, and disappointment in the chronic pain experience
I carried a lot of fear. I had disappointment bottled up in me. The constant state of pain fed discouragement, yet I had to find some ray of hope to cling to for my future. The longer I felt pain, the more frustrated I got because nothing I, or anyone else, did seem to heal the pain. I was afraid to move forward because the pain might worsen. I was scared to stay where I was because I was suffering. I constantly worried about the future. What would it hold for me? Would it ever get any better? I had these concerns and more. Fear, letdown, anger, and sadness were all ingredients that fueled the chronic pain.
Courage to face chronic pain
First, I had to face my fear. I decided that enough was enough and confronted my pain – all of it. We never know the courage quietly tucked inside our hearts until we face our fears. How wonderful that we have a fail-proof way of tapping that great well inside us. This is the beginning point of healing our pain.
Ancestral Clearing® in healing chronic pain
I found a great measure of freedom and healing from chronic pain through the work of Ancestral Clearing®, a five-technique process taught by John Newton and pioneered by Howard Wills. The lion’s share of the practice of Ancestral Clearing® involves forgiveness. My experience of the forgiveness practice is that it was part of the basis for relieving the burden I carried. It helped me resolve issues from my past. Furthermore, it addressed and cleared issues I held from my lineage.
When do we heal?
The brain can only heal in the present. It does not exist in the past or the future. We must be in the present, or we will be in pain. We are so used to slipping into the past or stressing about the future that we miss the present altogether. The forgiveness practice and Ancestral Clearing® bring us right into the present moment where the healing takes place. We become aware of the sensations we feel when we think about the things we want to forgive.
The willingness to forgive
The first step in the forgiveness practice is being willing to forgive. Be willing to let go. We can get attached to our resentments. We can get into a relationship with them. We can get used to them being around. To use the tool of forgiveness to help heal chronic pain, we must first be willing to give up our attachments to these negatives in our life, however familiar and even comfortable we have become with their presence.
Asking for help in forgiving
We next ask for help from a Higher Power to help us forgive. My experience with this work is that you don’t need to believe in a Higher Power. The only requirement to getting help is to want the help.
Forgiving all we can
We forgive the pain and the body for hurting all the time. We forgive the days of living we feel we missed out on because we were in pain. We forgive others for judging us and our pain. We forgive ourselves for judging others and for judging ourselves. We forgive others for the hurts we received. We forgive for the loneliness we feel in our experience of chronic pain. We forgive ourselves. We forgive all that we can in the moment. We allow ourselves to feel what comes up for us as sensation as we reference and forgive the hurts we experienced, and because we are feeling the sensations in the present, the body can release them.
Forgiving helps us release the energy of chronic pain.
Here’s the thing about forgiving the burden we carry. We never know how heavy the load is until we have done the work of forgiving. We carried it for so long that we got used to the weight. Or we thought we did. The body knew better. It groaned and complained under the weight until it finally expressed itself as chronic pain. When we practice forgiveness, we release the charge and load we feel from the unresolved hurts we experienced. It takes a lot of energy to carry these old hurts. It gets trapped in the nervous system. This practice helps release that energy. We feel lighter because we have lightened the burden and healed the damage done from the allostatic load we carried.
I found so much relief from forgiveness and Ancestral Clearing® that I became a practitioner in Ancestral Clearing®. I now help others through the process of releasing the burden they carry.
This work is complementary and supportive to the work of doctors and therapists.
Learn more about how you can experience the freedom of Ancestral Clearing® for yourself.