Changing my Thoughts to Change my Pain


Very painful day. Went to physio and left hardly able to walk. Very frustrated as had been doing wonderfully until adjustment on 23 August, since when have been increasingly limited.

So now have to find a way of being with the pain and counteract the negative feedback between pain and my mind. I realized last spring that I have control over my thoughts and that I have the choice as to how I react – easier said than done. It is difficult to keep my spirits up when wherever I turn doors seem to shut. As I said to my physio, all the mechanisms I customarily use to change and control mood, like exercise, gardening, cooking, cleaning, writing and computer work (which is wonderfully soothing) are off limits. Leaving lots of empty time to think – and it is what I think that will make or break me.

Am reading a wonderful book, Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen, which in itself is a gift of synchronicity. I had read it before but not noted the name. Had been looking for it everywhere, searching under meditation, etc, but with no luck, till on top of Mt. Tamalpais outside San Francisco I got into enthralled conversation with a woman who knew the author. He looks at the connection/parallels between Buddhist practice and neurology.

So what I had been feeling my way towards – my choice of thoughts – is borne out – except more strongly: our thoughts can change the neuronal pathways in the brain. My depressed thought spirals actually increase pain and wire my brain towards negativity. BUT I can rewire my brain to be more positive and deactivate pain pathways.

Today am working on repeating a version of the happiness prayer: may I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be filled with loving kindness, which I have often used in the past, widening it to include everyone I know. But today, as I limp home trying not to cry with exhaustion and pain, the prayer narrows, “May I be happy, may I be blessed.”

Repeat this all day. Morale is so hard to manage. On the one hand, I can be resolutely cheerful, but that turns into slave driving and eventually I hit the wall and burst into tears. Although that feels like giving in, I know I need the release and feel much better afterwards.. So it is finding the via media between self-pity and self-compassion. I am British, so softness comes hard to me.

About UntraveledRoads

Fascinated by life, looking for answers to chronic pain and finding unexpected gifts. Interested in people, ideas, healing and humour. I am very happily married with three children and a kitten. As English born immigrants to Canada, we have family spread overseas, a daughter in South Africa and one in England. We also run a charity in South Africa to educate black, rural South African Women. Our first girl from a rural township has just graduated as an accountant from Johannesburg University and got a good job in a bank.
This entry was posted in back pain, books that caught my mind, brain and mind, Brain and Pain, buddhism, chronic pain, Finding our way, pain - coping techniques, pain relief, Self-talk and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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