How Our Perceptions Affect Our Pain

YOU must address all areas of your health for your body to heal.  This includes your mindset, nutrition, exercise, environment, and nervous system.  Many people make it all about one thing (i.e., Nutrition or exercise) and neglect the rest.  This alone will not give your body the opportunity it needs to heal.  Most conditions are due to a deficiency in any or all aspects of your health, so it’s important to address all of them.  This article will highlight how a problem in any one of the areas of health can be causing your symptoms.  Future articles will also teach you how to remove the underlying problem in any of these areas of health.  But by far, the most important component of your health begins with your mindset!  Let’s discuss pain and the brain.

It’s NOT All In Your Head

Some patients who repeatedly see doctors in search of an answer to their chronic pain with no clearly identified cause, have been told: “it’s all in your head.”  I disagree.  The pain is very real.  Pain is something you are feeling and experiencing.  However, what is in your head is the ability to re-wire how your brain perceives the world and your body, including pain.  This is an output from the brain, not an input from the body.  When you have chronic pain, the brain frequently perceives things like light touch as being painful.  But remember, you CAN control your brain’s perception.

Understanding Chronic Pain

When dealing with chronic pain, the key to removing one of the major and most common forms of interference is this.  Understanding and accepting that there is so much more involved than just the physical aspect that feels painful.  It’s easy to understand how things like massage therapy, eating better, taking supplements, and exercising are going to help you on this HEALing journey.  It’s not as easy to understand how our thought processes and experiences in the past and present have an impact on our physical being.  There are widespread neurological implications of emotions.  Examples such as anger, anxiety, fear, self-doubt, sense of failure and more.   Click here for further reading on A scientific validation of your emotions.

Outside therapies alone, although helpful, are limiting.  We all have subconscious and conscious negative thought patterns that were learned at a young age either from past mental or physical traumas that you have attached to an emotion.  If you avoid working on removing those thought patterns, you won’t reap the benefits of the unlimited potential for healing that is within you.

Pain And The Brain

Pain is an experience. Physical pain from an external stimulus will initiate a message to be sent from tissues, through neurons called nociceptors.  It alerts the brain of a potentially dangerous situation.  This message arrives at the brain, and its level of “danger” is determined by a response based on information your brain has gathered throughout your life.  Your brain and nervous system form memories of pain when we experience pain.  This helps us avoid perceived dangerous behavior that once resulted in pain such as touching a hot stove.  We also create pain memories from hearing or seeing someone else experience pain as a result of a behavior.

If you have ever been diagnosed or heard of someone being diagnosed with a “pinched nerve” you have already created a “pinched nerve” memory in your brain.  Your brain has a cognition or context of what a “pinched nerve” means.  This is based on any experience related to the diagnosis.  Brain cells in the “pinched nerve” memory bank will also belong to anything else you associated the pinched nerve diagnosis.  Neck pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and sciatica are just a few of the examples.  This means IF you are told you have a “pinched nerve,” you activate the brain cells associated with a pinched nerve and experience its symptoms.  This occurs even if you don’t really have a pinched nerve.  This is one of the dangers of a misdiagnosis!

This inaccurate information we have gathered about how we imagine our body to work has contributed to our brain’s evaluation of how much danger we are in and your perception and experience of the external pain stimulus.

Mindset Exercises

Our positive and negative emotions associated with a diagnosis can have an impact on our degree of pain.  Now that you understand the connection between your beliefs and the pain you experience, we can dive into some relevant and applicable mindset concepts that you can start to apply right away.  I will provide you with paradigm-shifting exercises that accompany each concept.  I encourage you to dive in deep.  We are going to cover some of the time-tested, relevant concepts of emotional healing – gratitude, affirmations, and acknowledgment of your achievements.  The more energy and time you put into these mindset exercises, the more you will get out of them.  Your mind can’t tell the difference between reality and what you tell it!

I find that some patients are more prepared than others to tackle their state of mind during the healing process.  I provide guidance in the form of literature, counseling, and advanced workshops on developing a healthy mindset.  It’s not uncommon to see patients with very similar symptoms in our practice.  However, the patients who dedicate the time and energy to their mental health and creating a positive mindset tend to get better results with their care.  The positive mindset they create drastically decreases their healing time and ability to return to normal activities of daily living, pain-free!  To read more on How our perceptions affect our health, click here.

You’re one step closer!