The first several years of living with pain is a constant search for answers. What is going on? What caused the pain? How can I stop it? How can I heal? What am I doing wrong?
After years of looking and looking for ways to end the pain in the world of physical treatments and pain relief, we can become discouraged and frustrated when no clear solutions appear. When everything we try either has little no discernible effect, or actually makes things worse, it seems like there are no answers “out there”.
The Inner World of Pain
Pain is a paradox to begin with. Something “out there” causes it - some situation, some bacterial or viral invasion. So, we naturally look for all the answers to pain on the outside.
But we experience pain “in here,” in our bodies, and we also experience it in our private inner worlds. It informs everything. How we see ourselves, how we feel about life, what dreams we give up and what we create. This pain that comes from the outside may not respond to treatments applied from the outside and affects us hugely on the inside, almost forcing us to go inward to look for a different level of answers.
When we do that, it’s important to avoid the negative inner path, which can look like this:
Most negative questions are versions of the first one: what’s wrong with me? With these questions our self-doubt grows, and we lose confidence in ourselves and in our ability to heal. We can also lose our trust in who we are and our trust in life.
Asking Different Questions
Going within in a more healthy way might be to ask these kinds of questions:
These questions aren’t easy to answer, but they tend to lead to more positive approaches to living with pain than the first set. If we let pain turn us inside out, so to speak, we may discover that pursuing answers to these questions can release some of the stress and anxiety that comes with living in pain. This can promote greater inner peace and well being, which may actually bring some reduction in our overall levels of pain.
So, when we despair of finding answers “out there”, we might try turning our attention inward to tap our own personal wells of inner wisdom.
Image: Lycinna, John William Godward (Wikimedia Commons)
Sarah Anne Shockley has lived with nerve pain from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome since 2007. She co-produced and directed Dancing From the Inside Out, a multi-award winning documentary on AXIS Dance Company (integrating wheelchair and able-bodied dance). She is the author of The Pain Companion, The Light at The Center of Pain, Living Better While Living With Pain, and 30 Days of Living Better While Living With Pain.
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