Clearly, pain is in the body. So when people tell Fibro sufferers “it’s all in your head,” it’s not only unhelpful but it’s offensive. Truly, pain is in your body — and in your head. Nerve centers are responsible for carrying pain signals to the brain, which, of course, is in your head. The mind-body connection is not optional, it’s all-encompassing and real. We Fibro heroes and heroines know better than anyone that pain affects both the body and the mind. In other words, just because it’s in my head doesn’t mean it’s not also in my body.
The question I am often asked is:
“Can I affect the pain in my body with my mind?”
My answer is a resounding “YES!”
Don’t believe me? Try opening a jar. If you strain to open the jar and fail, your hand hurts. If you apply the exact amount of effort and then succeed in opening the jar, your hand does NOT hurt. Why is that? Here’s what happened: When you succeeded in opening the jar, your brain gave a little “hurray!” and released a little endorphins. That took care of any bit of pain that might have remained from the effort. Was that a physiological response? No. It was cognitive. Your mind told your body how to handle the situation. That is exceptionally good news. You have the power to affect your pain.
Now, I’m not saying you should be pain free just by thinking differently about your pain, but I do believe it is possible to significantly improve your quality of life by addressing your cognitive process. We start with learning to listen to the messages we tell ourselves. Let’s start today by having a few little “hurray!” moments, celebrating even the smallest victories.
Next time: Mind the Pain