Chronic pain presents us with predicaments that block our ability to heal. In chronic pain – any pain (physical, emotional, spiritual) that’s felt for 15 days out of 30 for 3 months or more – the victim cries louder than the criminal, or in the case of chronic pain, the scene of the crime. Chronic pain presents us with predicaments that block our ability to heal. So, wherever you think the problem is, usually isn’t what’s causing the problem.
Chronic pain is a disease of the brain. We may have had an original insult to an area of the body and experienced acute pain. When the pain lasts 3 months or more, it has become chronic and we are subject to changes in the way our brain operates because of it. The problem is no longer at the site of the initial damage; the problem is now in the brain and how it is processing the experience of pain.
There is a phenomenon termed “negative expectancy” that occurs in someone with chronic pain. This refers to an accentuated negative bias. We experience this physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our beliefs about our experience feed this system, too. There are ten “P” beliefs that we buy into as chronic pain sufferers. They are all lies we tell ourselves about pain and our experience of it. These beliefs and their consequent behaviors help lock in and feed our pain experience away from healing and towards more distress.
Private: We perceive our pain as private since we cannot share our experience. It isolates us. We become disconnected from our family and friends, from our Higher Power, and from ourselves. We create our own private prison. And, paradoxically, though we may not realize it at the time, we hold the key to its lock.
Personal: We take pain personally. Because chronic pain steals our attention away from other things to it, we can see it as invader. It invades our personal space and touches us deeply where we live consciously inside the body. Because of this, we forget that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and are witnessing our pain. Instead, we identify with our pain and our thoughts about it. Unfortunately, when we lose our ability to distinguish our pain from our true self, we feed our pain experience even more.
Pervasive: We believe our experience of chronic pain is pervasive because chronic pain steals our attention away from everything but itself. Its penetrating nature is made even more apparent because we cannot share our experience of pain and because we take it personally.
Powerful: We perceive pain as almost incredibly powerful… to the point where we deny our experience of it. No matter how hard we try to resist, fight, deny, turn away, or numb the pain, our actions feed the pain even more. And so, we give our power away to the pain.
Problem: We take on chronic pain as a problem to be solved. We try to figure out our situation and so, we spend our time locked in the mind. We forget to simply be. Yet, being is one of the most powerful and effective healing modalities we can employ. In trying to solve the problem with the logical mind, we miss the answer altogether. We have ceded the territory of our chronic pain experience to the battlefield of the analytical mind, vacating the very S(s)ource of our healing.
Persistent: Chronic pain is persistent if anything. We learn to be at least as persistent or more. The problem here with our belief that the pain is interminable is that the belief alone feeds our suffering.
Progressive: We view the chronic pain experience as one that is both continuous (persistent) and progressive. We become so hooked by the pain and its negative expectancy that we convince ourselves that it will increase in duration and intensity. This adds to the suffering.
Projection: We project our fears into our pain experience because of the negativity that we feel. We project about our future, fearful that it will be the same or worse. Here is another aspect of our beliefs in the experience of chronic pain that leads to more pain.
Perpetual: Another negative expectancy is the pronounced tendency to ruminate, and so believe pain is ongoing and everlasting.
Permanent: We can become so lost in our fears and feelings of powerlessness in the chronic pain space that we lose hope and feel that it will be our permanent state. This is the most dangerous lie of all.
You can see how our reactions to chronic pain – our predicaments – feed it. Chronic pain is its own kind of addiction. We can become trapped in its web of lies. We get locked in its negative spin and if left unchecked, we can end up in hopelessness and believe we are doomed to live a life of suffering. This is the biggest lie we can buy into because you CAN heal form chronic pain. It is NOT a life sentence.
We must believe more in the power of the body to heal than in the power of our illness. This alone provides us the leverage to open our mind to solutions we had not been able to access, and in this we shift into the momentum of healing.