When Back Pain Is On Your Mind. Change Your Mind!
By Alan Orr
For many, back pain is among the worst types of pain to deal with on a daily basis. It is a very real problem that is often caused by some imbalanced structural problem or from an injury.
But it is important to keep in mind that all pain is “information.” When there is a problem with your body, your body communicates this to your brain via nerve impulses. These impulses are “pain signals” that send the injury information to the brain to make you uncomfortable in an effort to force you to do something about it. Hopefully, we then address the issue ourselves or contact an expert to do something, while also not doing additional things to continue the problem and make it chronic.
On the whole this is a good system. However, it becomes an issue with long-term pain problems and also when nerves are damaged or become overactive. In these cases a person can have functional movement and no longer have the original structural damage, but still be in pain. Also we have cases where the pain changes from area to area, called migrating pain. And often times, pain is made much worse (or made chronic) by the way we think about it… and how often we think about it!
I would like to tell you about a method known as “reframing,” that is simple to do and will allow you to change the way you view and respond to pain. It is from a methodology known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP for short.
NLP as you may know is the art of understanding and communicating with our minds. Here’s a more detailed definition:
N — Neuro — Understanding the Nervous system and the five senses.
L — Linguistic — Understanding Language and how it really affects our minds.
P — Programming — Understanding our ability to organise our neurological systems (thought processes) to achieve our goals.
I know you’re thinking it sounds like hard work! But it isn’t. Basically what NLP teaches you is to take control of your thoughts and become free to change your mind… about what you are thinking and how you are thinking about it.
If you understand the way your brain processes information and you understand why and how language impacts your feelings, then you will start to see you can re-program your mind and change the way you feel.
NLP can be used in many ways and for many things. Lets start with something small, which will allow you to begin embracing your power to make powerful changes in your life.
The Skill of Reframing
Reframing is a nice way to start using basic NLP. It’s easy and it shows you that your outlook on life has a lot to do with the life you lead. Reframing is your first step into a more positive mindset toward your back pain and for your whole life. Hey, why aim low!
Lets think about pain. We know it’s simply a form of communicating information. So normally you may say to yourself things like, “My back hurts, I have a weak back, it stops me from doing things, it gets me down.”
Now in fact what you are doing is letting yourself know you have all of these problems. By focusing on the problems, you are actually reaffirming a negative cycle. Let’s now use NLP and “reframe” the above negative thought into a positive one.
“My back hurts. My body is telling me to be careful and not injure it further. Ok, I should do the correct exercises to free my pain and be aware that I need to watch out for things that could add too much pressure at this point. Also it’s good my body reminds me to look after my bad back. So to thank my body I must keep up with my healthy back program.”
Again, pain is information. And rather than fight against the information, fighting the message, you can use reframing instead to acknowledge the problem, and take affirmative action steps to reduce and eliminate the pain. Then, while doing the pain-relief program, you will be mindful to listen to the communication of information from your body to your brain, and acknowledge the relief as it comes… slow or fast.
3 Steps to Reframing
Step One is identifying the problem. Sounds easy, but often we react rather than reason. So the first thing to do is take a moment to be with your pain and assess it so you can understand the why, when and how of it. Why is it happening (e.g., you have had a disc problem; you where sleeping in a new bed). When is it happening (e.g., while doing something that always sets it off). What is happening (e.g., what kind of pain is it?). And How is it happening (e.g., are making it worse? Is it fear-based pain where you are worried that it will get bad so you get in the mindset of being in pain?)
Step Two is separating the intention from the learned behaviour. In other words, you slow down to really talk to your subconscious mind about a better way to deal with the problem at hand. You might say, “Okay, I know I am having pain, but it’s not an injury, I am not my pain, it just happened today because I have been sitting all day and not moving.” Thinking and acknowledging in this way keeps you focused on getting to step three.
Step Three is setting the positive way forward. You can even thank your body for the message of pain, as it focused you to work with a better intention of achieving your health and long-term life goals.
You can reframe in many ways, just look at the positive view of the situation and let your mind work for you!
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Written By: Updated: August 3,2011