The connection between pain and emotion
When we think about pain, or expect pain, we move differently. Sometimes, it’s these learnt behaviours we have to unwind.
Humans are emotional by nature. When we experience pain, emotions tend to become involved. Sometimes, pain and emotions can become so tangled up, we can’t tell one from another.
On the surface, it really does seem like there are different types of pain; scary pain when you hurt your back, annoying pain when your neck is tight. Some pain might feel strangely good, like when you’re getting a massage. In truth, pain is just a signal. Our experience of the pain is then influenced by our perception of its cause.
If the pain has just started, we might feel anxious, because we’re not sure what to do about it. If the pain has been lingering for months or years, then we may react with anger, frustration, or even sadness.
If deep down we feel that our bodies are fragile and vulnerable, then the slightest niggle can trigger a flurry of emotions. Sometimes our emotional reaction to pain is more traumatic than the pain itself.
It’s good to give yourself permission to observe your emotions that exist in, and around, your pain. You might find it’s not as clear cut as you think. It’s not uncommon to blame a bad mood on our body, only to realise that there are other things on our mind. Blaming your body doesn’t help the situation.
Hiding from pain doesn’t help either. You can only subtract activities from your life for so long, before a lack of movement becomes part of the problem. At some point, you may decide it’s worth adding some physicality back into the mix.
It’s not about ignoring pain, especially if a pattern is emerging that requires attention. If the pain is increasing in severity or frequency, there are amazing medical professionals that can help.
The key is to be curious, and give yourself permission to explore.. approach your body like a relationship to build on, rather than a liability to manage.
Don’t give pain more emotional power than you need to.