Before we even attempt to overcome our chronic pain, it’s a good idea to understand exactly what pain is. Most of us think of pain only in regard to the physical sensations happening in our body. But pain is so much more than that!
So let’s start with the definition of pain:
"An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage...
Pain is always subjective… It is unquestionably a sensation in a part or parts of the body, but it is also always unpleasant and therefore also an emotional experience.”
The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)
Pain is both a physical and emotional experience. Let’s begin with the physical, or sensory experience first.
Unpleasant sensory experience – the tightness, the tension, the stabbing, the burning and all the physical sensations that your feel.
Unpleasant emotional experience – the depression, the sadness, the stress & anxiety, the fear or the shame that can accompany pain.
We have many different types of sensory nerves in our body. When these sensory nerves send signals to the brain, some travel the regions of the brain that process sensory information, and some travel to the regions of the brain that process and store emotions. So, there are two separate components of chronic pain, and you cannot separate them.
Now let's look at it in a different way. Let’s change the word sensory, to primary, and the word emotional, to secondary.
Primary suffering - actual unpleasant sensation felt in the body - the “data” that is sent to the brain from the injury, illness, or changes to the nervous system.
Secondary suffering - all the thoughts, feelings, emotions and memories associated with pain.
The pain and distress that you feel is a combination of both primary and secondary suffering. The biggest misconception we have about managing our pain is that it is about our physical body alone. Pain affects every part of your life, and every part of your life affects your pain. An emotional conflict at home will affect our day at work, or cause a pain flare. An improvement in our diet may result in more sustained energy throughout the day and less digestive issues.
We can’t always remove the primary suffering.
But, we can change our experience of pain to reduce the secondary suffering.
Learning how to overcome your pain is much easier once you understand it. You may not have control over the primary suffering, but you have complete control over the secondary suffering.
This is why so many of the treatments that “should” get rid of chronic pain are only short term fixes, or may even make it worse. When you just treat one small part, you only get partial success. You need to treat the whole person – and address both components of chronic pain.
So, here's the good thing. You can learn strategies to reduce the secondary suffering which ultimately leads to a reduction in the primary suffering. This is how you actively manage your pain.
Discover a natural system to heal your pain and reduce your suffering.
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