Have you been told your pain is ‘all in your head’?
The implication is you’re not really in pain – you’re just imagining it!
At our clinic we KNOW you really are in pain, and we successfully treat people every day that have been told this by their family, friends and doctors.
However you may also be interested know that the mind can in fact be a major source of real, physical pain. And no, this is NOT to discount it! It is in fact a scientifically validated process, and it MUST be taken seriously. This is how it works:
If you are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, the signals sent by the neurotransmitters in your brain can actually trigger physical inflammatory processes within your body. Inflammation creates pain. And when you’re in pain, you’re much more prone to experiencing further stress, anxiety and depression. It’s a vicious cycle, and if you’re in it, it can feel absolutely terrible – and is made worse when family, friends and doctors don’t take you seriously. It IS a serious condition. Why? Well, these statistics will tell you:
- As many as 16% of pain sufferers some days feel that their pain is so bad that they wanted to die. (Breivik H, et al. Survey of chronic pain in Europe: prevalence, impact on daily life and treatment. Eur J Pain. 2006 May, 10(4):287-333)
- Half of chronic pain patients have clinically diagnosable symptoms of depression. (Blackburn-Munro G, Blackburn-Munro RE. Chronic pain, chronic stress and depression: coincidence or consequence? J Neuroendocrinal 2001 Dec; 13(12):1009-23)
- Chronic headache sufferers are 6.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide. (Ilgen MA et al. Pain and suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts in the United States. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2008 Nov-Dec; 30(6):521-7.
In short, by staying in a state of pain or stress, you are putting yourself in a high-risk group. No-one wants to end up being a statistic. And no-one wants to live with the loss of quality of life that stress and pain create.
We see a lot of people come through our clinic, and the one thing that stands out is that a person’s attitude plays a fundamental part in their recovery. This phenomenon is well-documented in scientific literature, and it’s well summed up by this Hindu saying: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. In other words, having a physical body means that we all experience pain at some stage in our lives; yet how we respond to being in pain is our personal choice.
We have seen the effect of attitude up close at our clinic. We have noticed that although there are a whole range of attitudes our clients have, they generally fall into two main groups: Victims and Victors. I expect you already know which clients heal the fastest.
The link between mental activity and the inflammatory process clearly shows why people who identify as Victims have a hard time healing. If you’re identifying as a Victim then you’re engaging in thought processes that are centred on stress and worry. This then triggers an inflammatory process in your physical body, which leads to pain. Whilst diet, acupuncture and natural supplements can help substantially, if you are continually triggering inflammatory processes through your neural pathways, your pain will continue at some level and it is unlikely your body will be able to heal completely.
So what can you do?
Victim or Victor – it’s Your Choice!
First, it’s important to recognise that no matter what circumstances you have borne in your life, it is nevertheless your choice to identify either as a Victim or as a Victor. No matter what debilitating events you have been through, those events are in the past and to keep replaying them in your mind and to keep living from that same mental space is only perpetuating your suffering. All possibilities are available to you in the present and your attitude, right now in this moment, is one hundred percent up to you –no-one else can choose it for you. Consciously choosing to be a Victor and to stop paying attention to the mental chatter of your inner Victim is the first step to healing. It’s about ‘how you talk to yourself, about yourself, when you’re by yourself.’
An important part of this process is to recognise how you benefit from being a Victim. Many of us are comfortable remaining as victims because it allows us to stay inside our comfort zone. Being truly well, embracing and fully engaging with life, taking responsibility for our future health … all of these things can be challenging if they are not part of our existing comfort zone. Acknowledge the benefits you get from being a Victim, and then decide if it’s worthwhile to keep being one. If you decide you’re not ready, then don’t feel bad – it’s not your time yet. At least you’ve been honest with yourself and you know yourself a little better now. If you decide you want to stop being a victim, then now is the time to be brave and let go of your comfort zone.
Of course, this is easier said than done, and sometimes, despite the best intentions, our ingrained mental habit-patterns can be hard to shake. If this happens to you, don’t despair – we have a fantastic technique EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which can easily and effectively release core issues that are subconsciously guiding your mental habits. And no, it doesn’t take years – just a few sessions.
What Are You Grateful For?
The next step – one which is often forgotten but is crucial – is to realise what you’re grateful for and to fully and completely dwell in that feeling of gratitude. It might be that you’re grateful for what you’ve learned through your suffering. It might be you’re grateful for the support you received from a particular friend or family member. It might just be that you’re grateful that you’re finally taking the first step to truly looking after yourself. It can be anything – maybe it’s just that you’re grateful for the soft pillow under your head when you wake up. Whatever it is, bask in the gratitude you feel – let it fill up every cell in your body and mind. This feeling of gratitude and the sense of calm it generates is a key to healing damage in your body.
It’s Time to Let Go.
Now you’re feeling how grateful you are, it will be easier to let go of the actual issues and events in your past that you have been using to stay in the role of the Victim (if you’ve done some EFT sessions with us, you may have already done this). Letting go involves learning to forgive – both yourself and others. Forgiveness actually restores your inner power and puts you in the pilot seat, for you are taking action and exercising choice by choosing to allow yourself to let go and forgive.
Acceptance Stops the Cycle of Suffering…
Finally, after feeling the depth of your gratitude and forgiving and letting go, you can start to accept your present condition of stress, anxiety and the sensation of pain. This acceptance – rather than resistance – is a key part of stopping the cycle of stress-inflammation-pain in its tracks and instead starting a cycle of calm-flexibility-wellness. And this is not just self-help mumbo-jumbo – the effect of mental acceptance of pain and suffering is supported by studies that demonstrate the incredibly positive effect on pain levels of ‘mindfulness meditation’, a meditation style which is centred on feeling and accepting the sensations of the body without judgment. Click here for one such example.
And then what?
Well, acceptance leads to further gratitude and enables you to live more in the present, rather than in your old ‘Victim’ reality. And living in the present means accepting life as it comes and reacting from a place of power rather than an outdated, negative mentality. You have now set up a cycle of gratitude-forgiveness-acceptance which is the key to establishing calming, healing signals from your neurotransmitters to your physical body, reducing pain and inflammation and protecting and nourishing, rather than debilitating, your health.
Remember, though, that staying in this cycle is a matter of ongoing practice. You will get better at it the more you do it. Don’t get disheartened if you start slipping into Victimhood again. Forgive yourself and remember you’re changing long-held mental patterns. Let go and start again.
Most importantly (even if you stumble) you are now consciously choosing to be a Victor, and with the help of targeted nutritional supplements, physical treatments such as acupuncture, combined with a healthy, appropriate diet and sensible exercise, you are on your way to being pain-free!