When it comes to pain, we have little patience. The pain seems to intensify and drive our day. Irritability sets in and somehow the pain grows larger than life. Desperate people try desperate measures – even exotic alternatives.
One of my clients, a woman experiencing menopausal hot flashes, tried breathing from the middle of her throat because this is what her previous practitioner told her would solve the problem. “Did it work?” I asked. “No.” She responded with a laugh. Having observed her and listened attentively to her discussion of people who annoyed her, I concluded that stress was causing her to boil over. I suggested that her hot flash surged when her stress triggered the adrenalin rush in her body. She smiled at me, laughed and said, “You are absolutely right! I didn’t realize it. My hot flashes get really bad as soon as I get annoyed! For example, I ride on the railroad to work and people talking on their cell phones really irk me, or when I use the stationary bike at the gym and the three women on treadmills speak behind my back. I feel the heat rise up into my neck and face.”
Recent studies indicate that the mind can drive pain even when the cause has dissipated. This in turn causes more inflammation around the pain site and impedes complete healing, like picking at a scab! Therefore we are engaging in self-sabotage. Only we don’t realize it because we are so focused on the pain, justifying it being there, that we lose sight of our anger and fear which the pain is trying to bring to our attention for our own well being.
Pain is not the enemy. It protects us from further harm. For example when we accidentally put our hand in the fire it warns us to quickly withdraw it to avoid being burned. When we are angry, consciously or subconsciously, that pain lodges in a specific point in the body. Inflammation, an incendiary reaction, causes swelling and the area is on fire. Then there is fear. Fear causes us to stiffen because we are afraid of the pain, afraid of moving forward, afraid of having no more excuses.
When you are experiencing chronic pain, and do not know how to get past it, consider the power of your own mind to redirect your focus and allow your body to heal itself. This does not mean that you need to reach the ideal of someone who can walk on a bed of nails and not feel pain. Just try to ease up on yourself, on the known daily stressors, to redirect your focus towards relaxation and doing what makes you lose track of time and so, forget the pain.
You can change after you have accepted yourself as you are. And if you need to rest a bit to begin the healing process, visualize that there is great productivity in rest – your body is in full throttle healing itself while your mind is at peace. And once you have allowed the rest period appropriate for you, it is time to do what makes your heart sing.
No more pain, no more drama.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life
, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com