If you have physical pain symptoms like migraines, or back pain, or those of post-COVID syndrome as I mentioned above—whatever your pain story—I would like to invite you to do some journaling. First, identify whether there is fear tied into your pain story. If there is, this is traumatic pain. Your brain is holding a trauma story tied into the physical experience of fear. This is not a good situation to be in, but it gives you an opportunity for self-healing.
This is crucial to remember when you are living through ongoing experiences of pain. Acknowledging this connection can help you overcome the stories your amygdala might be telling you about yourself and the world around you.
Again, pain and trauma go hand in hand. The opportunity here is that we can use many of the same tools we use to treat trauma to also work on physical pain. Our goal is to create a new pattern of pain and healing, which includes:
- Recognizing that an injury happened without getting stuck in the spiral of pain stories and catastrophizing and false narratives around the injury.
- Realizing that after a pain experience there will be times when things flare up again. Tell Amy you love her for alerting you to the stimulus but let her know you are going to confront it without living in fear.
- Practicing brain care exercises, like CPR for the Amygdala, The Water Fountain of Healing, and other exercises in the sidebar to this article to create a relaxed calm, rather than guarding against the pain experience.
- Keeping the focus on healing and release and stepping into recovery.
In the sidebar to this article, I have chosen several videos from the 19-part series on our YouTube channel titled, “Thriving Through Pain.” If you are suffering from chronic pain, I invite you to try some of these meditations and exercises. If you find them helpful, please visit the entire series by clicking here.
DeWall, C. N., MacDonald, G. Webster, G.D., Masten, C. L.. Baumeister, R. F. Powell, C. …Eisenberger, N. I. (2010). Acetaminophen reduces social pain: Behavioral and neural evidence. Psychol Sci 2010 (7):931-7. doi: 10.1177/0956797610374741. Epub 2010 Jun 14. PMID: 20548058.
Fisher, S. F. (2014) Neurofeedback in the treatment of developmental trauma: Calming the fear-driven brain. New York: W.W. Norton. https://doi.org/10.1080/14746700.2015.1082869
Lethem J, Slade PD, Troup JDG, Bentley G. (1983). Outline of fear-avoidance model of exaggerated pain perceptions. Behav Res Ther. (21):401-408).