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Why does thinking differently help you overcome chronic pain?

by | May 27, 2024 | Chronic pain, Pain Coach, Pain Coaching

3 tips for taking a new perspective

Surely you can’t just think yourself better to overcome chronic pain?

No. Clearly a thought alone is not enough.

But the kind of thoughts you act on do matter.

Which is why deepening your understanding of your chronic pain and ever-changing situation is important.

Beliefs shape experiences and can emerge as thoughts.

The story. Your story about what is happening, why and what you can do.

This shapes what you do.

If you think you can, if you think you can’t, you’re right, said Henry Ford (apparently).

Thoughts just appear

Have you noticed how they do that?

Just noticing means you are not embroiled and losing sight of what is actually happening.

Pause: follow one breath in and out. Ask, what is actually happening for me right now?

Notice the change in your state.

You are not your thoughts.

You are the one having or hearing the thoughts.

Yet they can be so very convincing.

You can harness this in a positive way, i.e./ use the energy to take a step in your chosen direction.

Where am I?

Establishing where you are now and accepting this as your start point means you can begin.

To be in the past (remembered) or the future (an imagined ideal) is not where you are right now.

Wanting to be anywhere but here causes suffering.

If you are suffering now, being here now is the only way you can take care of yourself to ease that suffering.

Where you are now is a matter of all the things that have happened so far.

Life’s happenings (no control) and the things you have believed and done (can control) bring you here.

Where now?

If you want different results (no control), then you need to build on your strengths and add new ways of thinking and doing (can control)—they come together.

An examination and then an update of unhelpful beliefs.

To set your course.

From here in line with where you want to go, recognising this is an imagined future and you can only set your direction.

And remind yourself of your direction and where you are.

Am I pointed in that direction or have I drifted off?

3 tips for taking a new perspective

These are on-going practices. In other words, like learning a musical instrument, you practice.

Beginner’s mind

This is at the essence of Zen.

Look at everything with fresh eyes as if you have never seen it before. Drop the concept and just see what you see.

In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind, there are few

~ Shunryu Suzuki

You can be open to possibilities.

Examine your existing beliefs to overcome chronic pain

What are my beliefs about my chronic pain?

And my ability to get better?

What are the conditions from where my pain arises?

Do I believe I can change them?

You can.

Sticky beliefs = sticky experiences such as chronic pain.

Update your beliefs and the landscape changes.

What got you here won’t get you there

Where are you?

Where do you want to go?

What do you need to go in your chosen direction?

This often needs caring conversations about change to discover, then a plan, then action.

Thinking, acting and what you perceive all come together from a bodily perspective in your lived world.

Brain, mind, body and world are not separate.

This dynamic can be harnessed for you to live your best life now and continue shaping this as you move forward.

RS ~ The Pain Coach