116 million Americans are dealing with chronic pain. This not only upsets the life of the person afflicted, but their families and anybody else they are in contact with can be affected as well. One of the complicating factors is that along with the suffering caused by the pain, anger is an accompanying emotion most of the time that increases the misery index exponentially.
Dealing with an angry person is not fun. Anger is called temporary insanity because one cannot think in a rational, civilized manner when angry. People in pain feel out of control. They feel helpless about the circumstances surrounding their pain. What caused it, the lack of effective treatments, the financial strain caused by this situation, and what to do about it now can seem overwhelming. Anger is used to reinstate the feeling of control, as misguided as it is. People will usually feel like a victim, as blame is always present with anger.
Anger is still a choice, but without awareness people will automatically gravitate to it. Pain has the effect of increasing anxiety and the feeling of not having control over the situation which digresses into anger. The problem is pain revs up the nervous system which increases the pain. This becomes a vicious degenerative cycle. Angry people are hard to treat because they don’t listen well. In fact, when in pain people don’t even hear a lot of what is said. They also want some quick fix to get them out of pain. They will want a surgery, for example, even if the surgeon says it won’t help.
It is possible to have the physical reasons for the pain eliminated and still experience the pain. This is a mind-body connection. Because there are emotional connections to the pain, certain triggers may ignite the pain. These triggers could be something seen or heard. The triggers may not even be consciously experienced. The chronic pain has become embedded in the brain and nervous system and will always be there and have the potential to resurface until efforts have been made to do some “re-wiring” to circumvent these nerve pathways.
To reverse this cycle, awareness is the key. What you are not aware of controls you. People need to recognize their victimhood and process it. Pain pathways have been established in the nervous system and they need to be reprogrammed. Pain pathways will not be eliminated, just as you can’t eliminate how to ride a bicycle. However, it is possible to take detours and establish new neurological pathways. A conscious effort is necessary as repetition is an essential part of establishing these new paths.
To reverse chronic pain it is important to have an awareness of thoughts that feed pain. The next step is to detach from those thoughts. The final efforts are directed at establishing new neuronal pathways with different thoughts. To practice awareness is to be totally present. What are you seeing, feeling, smelling, etc. at this moment? Try to do this as much as possible. It is also important to get out of our victimhood “story” as much as possible. You can’t be practicing awareness and be energizing your story by repeating it all the time.
Writing is a great way to reprogram the nervous system. Start by writing actual thoughts with free writing. Write what comes up and then throw the paper away. Visualization is also very effective. Visualize and feel how life is going to be out of pain and you are able to do many things you enjoy once again. It is possible for someone in pain to get out of pain and get control of their life. The steps offered here are a good start.
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