You have learned the multiple variables that create and affect chronic pain. Regardless of the source of the pain your brain is being rapidly bombarded with unpleasant sensations that become magnified and memorized with time. Additionally they are linked with anxiety/ anger impulses that are also permanent pathways. This is a neurological problem, not primarily psychological. To make matters worse your brain causes the secretion of chemicals, such as adrenaline and cortisol that now cause your other organ systems to become symptomatic. That is why there are so many different physical manifestations of chronic pain. Anxiety, anger and adrenaline
You Have no Chance of Fixing Yourself
Picture a complex circuit board that has billions of etched in pathways that represent your lifetime of programming. You cannot change them for several reasons. First, they are permanent similar to riding a bicycle. Second, any time you spend trying to analyze and figure them out is counterproductive because you are paying attention to them, which reinforces them. Finally, as the unconscious brain is estimated to be one million times stronger than your conscious brain, talk therapy alone cannot hope to make a dent in these pathways. Yet almost all of us spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to understand and “fix” ourselves. The past is over you cannot change it and you cannot change the links to the past. It is like trying to move Mount Everest with a shovel. It is not going to happen and much of your life’s energy is consumed.
So what do you do? Understanding that you cannot fix them is the first step of the solution. You can quit beating your head against a wall and move on. Moving on means using strategies that create new pathways and also shift off of the old ones. Most of them involve methods that connect with the unconscious part of your brain by utilizing your senses and also calming down your nervous system. One analogy I often use is diverting a river into a different channel. You have to begin with small steps to create these new channels but eventually the flow of the water will also aid in the process.
I have been fascinated that many people can blow out of their pain pathways relatively quickly and almost everyone can succeed with persistence. I think that letting go of trying to fix something that is not changeable results in a huge energy surge. Essentially, the only obstacle to your healing is your conscious or unconscious unwillingness let go. Anger and pain are powerful weapons.
Crippled by Pain at an Early Age
I had the privilege of talking to two young adults suffering from extreme chronic pain. Both of them were in their mid-20’s and had been struggling for over five years with crippling anxiety and multiple physical symptoms. They had been to multiple physicians without success and were becoming despondent, as essentially every possible treatment had been tried. They were both incredibly open to new ideas and were fast learners. I was able to spend a few hours with each of them and explain the Neurophysiologic Disorder (NPD) treatment principles. As soon as they understood that they had been spending most of their time trying to solve unsolvable neurological problems their eyes lit up. It was time to move on. They also engaged in the expressive writing and committed getting more sleep. Within a few weeks they made major leaps forward and are continuing to improve.
The DOC process is simple and I also think one of the reasons that people resist engaging in it. How can so much suffering for this long be solved with such basic tools? It seems like that his or her pain is invalidated. Everyone needs validation and multiple complex procedures will validate your pain and disability. Is that what you really want for you and your family?
The Chinese Finger Trap
A Chinese finger trap is a device that orthopedic surgeons use to reduce fractures of your upper extremities. The patient is usually lying down and several fingers are placed into a device that encloses each finger in a nylon net. It is intended to suspend the arm and create a distraction force across a fracture to reduce it. A cast can be placed to hold the broken bones in alignment. As more weight is placed on the arm the nylon nets around the fingers tighten and become much stronger. If placed properly you cannot break out of this apparatus.
There is a similarity to treating chronic pain. The harder you try to fix yourself or escape the pain the more you will become enmeshed in it. You can only engage in practices that create a healing environment for your nervous system and watch yourself heal. You have to become aware that you are trapped, let go, and move forward. Moving forward with your pain
I have held several five-day workshops at the Omega institute in Rhinebeck, NY that is based on awareness, hope, forgiveness, and play. Within the week most of the participants go to pain free and over half have remained that way. Dr. Fred Luskin, psychologist, Stanford professor and author of Forgive for Good, will be joining my wife, Babs Yohai, as the other faculty. She is a professional tap dancer and movement expert. About two thirds of the seminar is focused on learning somatic tools, which are exercises that connect your thoughts with physical sensations. Dr. Luskin is insightful regarding the role of forgiveness in helping you move forward. As the participants are able to relax in a safe environment their pain diminishes. We have been amazed at how quickly and completely chronic pain can disappear. It was never our expectation when we conceptualized this workshop.
You must first become aware of your circumstances in order to make a change. Frequently I see patients who are almost shaking with rage and he or she truly feel that they do not have anger. Then you must “give up” (control) in order to move forward. That cannot be accomplished while you are (legitimately) angry. Moving forward will be on your terms and you can create any life you choose. Play pathways are also permanent and shifting back onto them is very powerful. I am not angry
Those of us who have learned and practiced these concepts estimate that the majority of patients will recover. It can happen within days or can take months and years. If you choose not to engage you have to ask yourself, “why?” If you are not open to even asking, “why?”, then there is not much I can do. I sincerely hope you can find another way of finding your way out of your misery.