Recently, I had an occurrence with my back which led me to contemplate the message behind "pain". I got the common questions as the doctors were trying to decide where the pain was coming from and how bad it was. I wondered why I always have a hard time answering those questions. It shouldn't be hard, I simply match my face to the pictures, right? But what if it is not easily identifiable. Why is that?
It has been discussed before that people may not be answering those prompts accurately because they are trying to 1. dramatize or gain attention from the pain or 2. trying to act tougher than what they really feel like. While this may be true, I ponder the possibility of other reasons those pain postures may be hard to identify with.
This latest occurrence with my back pulled forward into my conscious mind other threads of the same theme, where I am questioning the accuracy of "pain" and our expression of it.
1. In getting help I was once asked if I felt pain, when it seemed that I clearly should be feeling SOME.
2. I've lived with chronic pain, both emotionally and physically. It is very hard to identify how damaging a new pain I feel is, or isn't. When a person lives with pain, do they become MORE sensitive to EVERY pain, or LESS?
2. When I had my CSection, they were amazed at the level of pain I could tolerate before anesthesia.
3. I went to a family doctor friend because I felt off in the form of fear and had a question if my heart was keeping up with my stressful life at the time. He informed me I was having a panic attack; that my physiology was an exact expression of a panic attack. See, my BRAIN felt "with it", and I had assumed one would feel slightly "out of their mind" or fearful during a panic attack, neither of which did I feel, I was simply concerned about a stressed feeling in my heart. Turns out, you can get used to stress and your body adapts to it. Your body can express how it needs to: in the physiological form of a panic attack( racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting, cold sweats, etc), and yet your BRAIN doesn't even register that is what's happening.
So this puts a whole new level to us as wellness practitioners helping clients to manage "Pain" and has me thinking: Are we helping them manage physical effects accurately and in a way that will permanently heal the pain? And are we efficient at identifying and helping them with managing the psychological, conceptual components to the pain in a way that makes them FEEL healed? BOTH are reasons for narcotic prescriptions, and we know where that has led us.
What I believe is entirely possible is that we can get so out of tune with our bodies due to practiced denial that we cannot accurately access the pain receptors and identify in truth their level of activation.
Worse yet, our current methods( the "pain scale" with grimacing faces) of pain awareness has us identifying a PERCEPTION of pain, rather than a quotient of how activated the pain receptors have become. Even so, even if we DID take such a measure, how much does the psychology behind our pain affect the feeling of the pain?
Certainly emotions cause pain to be perceived as greater.
Fear, as well, and probably the greatest cause of psychological pain.
I once took hypnosis sessions to prepare for child birth. It was something I wanted to try, to see if one truly could activate the body's own analgesics to deter the feelings of pain. The key word I used was "relax" and the body, after the sessions, learned to instantly physiologically change to the concept that I had associated with the word "relax": supple relaxed muscles, an even heart rate and breathing pattern, relaxed face and muscles around my eyes and mouth and succumbing to the body's reflexes and innate knowledge for function.
I am wondering if the person that has been TRAINED to deny the emotional and physical pain they are experiencing has essentially "hypnotized" themselves against it. If they have been taught, or taught themselves to perceive pain as false, then how does this person receive help for a real physiological problem?
And what does this mean for our providers of pain management, if the conceptual background is never assessed? How might pain managers be more successful if they can assess both diagnostically the physical expression of pain minus the patient's input, and then ALSO compare that to the patient's perception of pain, and their response to it.
Now, the experience with hypnotic messages was something I consciously decided to do; to engage my subconscious mind in assisting my CONSCIOUS determination of pain, and to program my cells to react a certain way. However, there were MULTIPLE times in my life where, without the CONSCIOUS decision, simply off of defense mechanisms, I SUBCONSCIOUSLY programmed my mind to react and behave a certain way on the CONSCIOUS LEVEL. Meaning, without knowing it, I was dealing with the situations in my life the best way I knew how, with denial guiding the train.
For example, one that experiences a pattern of abuse is trained to deny it is happening, in order to protect the abuser, they HIDE the marks, and they HIDE the actions by keeping it secret. They self doubt and blame themselves. They wonder if they're making it up, if it's real, if they should really be feeling the ways they do. They keep secrets, and tell themselves what they are feeling isn't real. If this is what we have programmed ourselves to believe, like the panic attack I didn't realize I was having, how else are we potentially damaging ourselves by not being able to interpret when the body really is in need of help ? And more importantly, how are we as practitioners missing true and damaging physical pains?
Could we more successfully help people manage pain if we identified shielding behaviros, and these people really actually do need therapies?
Could we be more successful at helping people feel free from pain if we holistically addressed all of the sources for the pain on a conceptual level?
All of this, to me, is another indicator how very far away we have come to being in tune with the wholeness of our bodies. While it definitely should not be undertaken with the practitioner telling the patient, "Now see here, you ARE in pain because I can feel it in these muscles here, for example." Or even, "No, you cannot possibly be in pain because the physiology doesn't back it up." Both would be unacceptable ways to truly help a patient, as BOTH the physiological demonstrations AND the perceptions are equally real.
Tricky, though, we don't want to IDENTIFY with the body, or to TEACH anyone to identify as the body alone, but to use the body as a GUIDING light in helping us see our lives and if what we are currently doing is working. Often we get too absorbed ONLY in what the body is doing and failing it to see it for the indicator it is. Without awareness, we stay in pain, seeking further and further avenues to avoid it.
As a person trying to get help with pain, you could:
1. practice biofeedback, devices that will help you be aware of your body's expressions, again, NOT to dictate what you are feeling, but so that you become aware of how the body expresses itself in certain situations.
2. Ask your practitioner what they are noticing about your body. For example, if you go in for an injury or pain in the back, ask them what they are feeling or noticing about the body. Again, this is just to give BIOFEEDBACK to how the body is representing it's expression of pain, NOT to override the patient and tell them they ARE in pain.
3. Identify the situations that brought the pain on. Identify what the pain feels like with words, and ask where else in your life you feel like that.
4. Get quiet and calm and look into the body from a calm state of mind and see what the body is trying to tell you.
5. Identify the situations that make the pain worse, and ask yourself about the SITUATION in which you keep putting yourself and why you do it.
6. Don't wallow in pain. Seek out people that are great at DRUGLESS pain management, so that you are not covering up the reasons the pain is there. Drugging the experience of pain just blocks us even further from being in tune with the body, and learning from it.
As a practitioner, you can:
1. Pay attention to the words people are using to describe their pain. Not only does this indicate the physiological kind of pain it is, but could also be indicative of conceptually what is going on in their life. For example a "heavy" or "weighted" or "tired" pain can indicate the overwhelm of responsibility the person may be feeling.
2. What do you do about this, once it's discovered? Help them become aware of how the life situations are impacting the body, simply by pointing it out. You can refer them to those that are trained in Conceptual Pathology, or have a staff member that is exclusively capable to help resolve life situations so that their healing can progress.
3. One simple way is as you make your adjustment or technique, help them by telling them a new vision, explaining how the action is going to change physiologically, so that they can "hypnotically" give their cells a new message of action.
4. Be careful not to give them suggestions of pain, that they SHOULD be feeling pain, but effectively teach them the mechanisms the body has engaged to defend itself and what that feels like. Learning how to give biofeedback without giving suggestions of pain is a true art. There is a VERY fine line between teaching biofeedback messages and TELLING them how they SHOULD be feeling. Remember, we are ONLY trying to help them identify true expressions of pain. The TRICK is to learn the fearless and healing process of Acknowledgement, Deciding to not remain a victim, and Creating a new idea.
4. Use the "pain scale" pictures or 1-10 numbers as a representation of the patient's truth (their perception) but not as an accurate picture of what is physiologically taking place. It is merely a representation of how the person FEELS, which could be related more to their life experience at the time than their true physiology.
5. Learn to identify those patients that have Practiced Denial. You may miss the real pain these people might be in as they have had lifelong training to deny the truth of how they are feeling. For these people, rely on your Physiological measurements indicating pain receptor activation in order to take care of them and not let them fall through the cracks, but also teach them biofeedback (recognizing their body's own responses) Teach them it's okay to identify their pain, that it doesn't have to become PART of them, make them less than, make them weak, or become their story, but that what they're feeling is real, and it's okay to get help, and that they will not stay victim, because we have a real plan. Remember, these people have been taught to deny their pain in every way, and probably don't know how to respond to acknowledging pain.
6. Don't let them remain victims. Make sure not to sweep their feelings and perceptions under the rug, but in addition, teach them how to create a new story, one that involves health and pain free happiness.
For more information on Concept Pathology, and exercises to work with it, these may be some to check out:
Identify a person's common paths of healing based on their patterns: What are the Concept Pathology Healing Personalities?