What is your first thought and action when you face a large obstacle like chronic pain?
Are you frustrated due to being unable to be active in the things you love?
Do you become angry about your circumstances?
Are you afraid for your future?
Frustration, anger, and fear.
While I do not believe that pain can be “thought away,” research shows that living with strong negative emotions keep us locked in the chronic “pain brain.”
They keep our brain “sensitive” to pain.
Our thoughts and emotions are part of our pain experience and are linked to brain activities that can increase or decrease sensitivity to pain signals throughout our bodies.
How do we face an obstacle like chronic pain while calming down this sensitive pain brain?
In the sports world, there is something called “The Process.” It’s a philosophy created by the University of Alabama coach Nich Saban, who taught his players to ignore the big picture and focus instead on doing the absolutely smallest thing well.
Focus less on important games, winning championships, and the opponent’s enormous lead.
Focus more on practicing with full effort, finishing a specific play, and converting on a single possession.
Focusing on and mastering one specific skill that lasts seconds and building other skills upon that foundation helps world-class athletes win at their sport. A season can last months, a game can last hours, but a single play takes seconds.
Following “The Process” when you live with chronic pain means utilizing and mastering small skills you have available in your Chronic Pain Self-Management Toolbox. Each tool is a “single play” to practice until mastered like world-class athletes.
A recent tool highlighted in the Chronic Pain Life Coaching toolbox series explained how Pacing can help you meet your goals on a regular basis, not the typical, too much activity leading to too much inactivity that creates a vicious cycle. Pacing is a foundational tool everyone living with chronic pain should utilize.