Healing Chronic Pain - what will it take for you?Jan 10, 2023
Chronic pain is a complex experience. I like to say that it is a whole person experience affecting many aspects of one's life that goes far beyond an unpleasant physical sensation.
On my client intake form, I ask, “Do you have any ideas about what it is going to take for you to heal?” Often, I receive answers like fix my anterior pelvic tilt, build strength, correct imbalances, or repattern my movements. These are answers that reflect the belief that the pain stems solely from the physical body. Although this looks like a one to one relationship--”physical condition = pain”--there is another important aspect to consider: the belief. In this situation, the underlying and unspoken belief is that fixing the physical body is all that you need to heal. In actuality, both the physical condition and the belief are inputs that influence the pain experience. For a deeper discussion on this topic, please read my blog, Beat Your Pain Using the Biopsychosocial Model.
In contrast to these physical body-focused answers, I am also (and more frequently) receiving responses to my intake form question that reflect awareness of the many facets of chronic pain. A recent session with a new client motivated me to write this blog when we discussed her answer. She explained that in order to heal, she needed to create space to be herself. For a long time, she had been trying to meet others' activity expectations of her. Consequently, she ended up in situations that pushed her body beyond its capacities and stressed her mind, which resulted in injury. To escape this recurring injury cycle, she recognized that she had to stop trying to please others. Instead, she had to set and keep boundaries so she could protect herself in her athletic pursuits.
Following our session, I looked through other clients' written answers to this question, and I found equally thoughtful responses. Sometimes, these answers were given in addition to physical-based answers. Sometimes, they were all that was given. Here are a few examples:
Do you have any ideas about what it is going to take for you to heal?
- Gaining a greater sense of calm and clarity.
- Deep breathing, journaling, gratitude.
- Being centered, like the eye of the storm where I am not rattled by the chaos around me.
- Dissolving negative beliefs about healing, letting go, and letting myself be in a state of change – practicing self-compassion and a lot of patience and acceptance.
- Release the trauma of the injury that has gotten locked in and my body/mind and is now in a holding loop.
- Fully positive outlook.
- A new relationship with my body.
- I know I have to dig into the emotional piece to get the physical to let go.
- Find ways to live a less stressful life.
- The key seems to be relaxation and letting go of holding tightness. Maybe there is a protective instinct that has gone haywire. Maybe the body/mind needs to regain trust, remember how to relax and become more at ease.
On your journey to healing, take a moment now to reflect on what you need to heal. Look deep, beyond the physical. The answer may surprise you.
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