When it comes to chronic pain, we can all at times go down a deep hole of endless thoughts. Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? Will I ever get better? What is causing this? Why is nothing helping me?
We all have been in some type of pain in our lifetime. So why is it that pain affects everyone differently?
Could it be because of the way each individual thinks about pain?
Some people choose to let pain become a part of them, believing it is now their new “norm”. They get the belief that they will never get better and might as well just get used to it. There are others who choose to use pain as motivation to change.
Let’s start with choosing to let pain become a part of us. When we choose to go down the deep hole of endless thoughts many things happen to the body. Negative brain chemicals start to produce during times of negative repetitive thoughts. So not only are we already in pain but now we are essentially feeding this pain with the chemicals that will, in turn, increase the pain. Along with these brain chemicals “feeding” your pain, now, undesired habits are slowly but surely being formed. Dysfunctional movement patterns are also becoming the new “norm” for your body making it harder to get out of this hole you have so deeply placed yourself in.
Negative brain chemicals such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine are produced repetitively during these endless negative thoughts. These chemicals are needed by the body during certain times of “fight or flight” situations but not needed on a daily repetitive cycle.
When we are stuck down this deep hole of endless thoughts our bodies are no longer in a state of homeostasis (balance). The more desired positive brain chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins are decreasing in production allowing the negative to take over. Because the body is now no longer in a state of homeostasis it’s a breeding ground for new diseases and dysfunctions to happen. Again, causing new but still more chronic pain. You can see where this becomes a deeper and deeper issue. This process makes it hard to understand where and how the pain originally started. You are now becoming like an onion with many layers, but your layers, are now many dysfunctional problems that originally started with one issue or one injury.
So how do others deal with pain?
Well, let’s talk about the individuals who choose to use their pain as motivation to change. I’ll use a basic example. This individual has back pain every day only after being at work sitting at a desk all day. They choose to decide that this isn’t normal and they must change something. This individual believes something in their life or lifestyle must have changed to create this pain. So that person decides to take their own health into their hands and take action against the pain. They get a stand-up desk and find better ways to move and function better during their hours at work. Over a few weeks, they no longer have pain and are no longer thinking about the pain at all. Now, this individual feels empowered having the feeling that they have complete control over their body. This pain will not keep them from doing what they enjoy. This individual is now producing the positive brain chemicals and the negative brain chemicals are only being used in the situations that they are necessary for. This person did not let pain control them and therefore is keeping their body and mind in a state of homeostasis.
Not everyone’s situation is this cut and dry and we all are well aware of that. However, the lesson to learn here is that the way we think about pain truly can and will affect our healing process. We can choose to want to heal and be determined to do what it takes to do just that. Or we can choose to let pain control our lives.
The option is up to you. What will you choose?