Can you think of the things or situations that might cause you to feel threatened?
Well, yes, I think we’d all agree, a burglar breaking in while you’re at home counting sheep or that big bad wolf combing the neighborhood certainly qualify.
But when you live with Chronic Pain, a vital element of learning to manage your pain is found in broadening and clarifying that definition, really spending the time…
to seriously look at the factors in your life, no matter how seemingly trivial, that on some level create a sense of peril and/or foreboding within you.
Pain, we know, is the mind’s perception of damage to the body’s tissues and a call to initiate the “fight or flight” response as in withdrawing your hand from the flame or getting yourself to a Doctor. But, as the example of phantom limb pain so perfectly illustrates, the mind’s pain signal can go horribly wrong.
One of the reason’s for this is the connection between pain and our emotions. Obviously, when you’re experiencing pain you’re none too happy. As well, many of the physical reactions to pain, the muscle tension and shortness of breath, are also associated with our response to events that are emotionally upsetting, like stress. So how to manage our pain more effectively given what we know about these connections?
“To effectively deal with pain, it is important to identify the contextual clues. We like to call them the cues that help ignite a pain experience (aka a pain flare), or ‘ignition cues”. ~ David Butler & Lorimer Moseley in Explain Pain
This is a complex topic, but one powerful step you can take to better manage Chronic Pain (beyond reading the wonderful book mentioned above by the good people out of the Neuro Orthopedic Institute, NOI) is to come to better understand what trigger’s this sense of fight-or-flight, aka threat, in you. These triggers are unique to every person but what is universal is the pain they can trigger, most especially for those living with Chronic Pain, as our system’s have become hyper-sensitized for pain. If we feel the slightest sense of threat, our body is sure to react with an increase of pain, which for many of us is already at a significantly high level.
So…borrowing from our friends at NOI, here is their short 🙂 list of possibilities. The important thing is to come to terms with your own list and to be watchful, certainly to learn to let go of those factors you can, and to apply coping strategies, such as Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or employing the 3-Minute Breathing Space Technique as best you can.
I Have a Fear of: Pain Uncertainty Lack of Credibility Financial Issues Helplessness Not Being Able to Work My Ability to Have and/or Desire Sex Mental Weakness/Breakdown/Illness Anxiety Insomnia Stress Aging My Appearance Endangering Relationships Divorce Surgery Losing My Doctor Medication Use Addictions Certain Types of Movement Not Being Able to "Be There" for My Family The Housework Piling Up Not Being Able to Drive