Pain Procrastination and Broken Cycles


Here’s a thing. Whilst I’ve been attending to things other than blogging, for a variety of good and not-so good reasons, I’ve discovered something interesting. When I have a task that I don’t want to do, my unconscious mind does everything in its power to make it a difficult as possible to do undertake the task. Now, I used to think of this as procrastination, I’ve procrastinated all my life, putting things off until the last possible moment and then working away like someone who’s working hard to win the hard working competition by working harder than a hard worker would normal work when working hard. And so on. But perhaps there’s more to it than that.

You see, I’m just that little bit more self-aware than I used to be and I reckon that I actually run two types of procrastinatory algorithms in my library of mental sub-routines. You could call them the Good and the Bad. Which unfortunately leaves me as being the Ugly, but there you go. In previous musings I’ve let you into the secrets of how I use procrastination as a means of cramming more good things into the time when I ought to be, by the standards of those who subscribe to dainty elephant-eating etiquette, working consistently towards achieving the goals and sub-goals beloved of the aforementioned munchers of pachyderm micro-morsels.

My view? Basically, stuff the perceived wisdom of those elders and betters who achieve their goals a small sub-goal at a time spread out over a sensible time period to avoid stress. I belong to the relatively smaller world of folk who would rather not have elephant for every meal and are better suited to a sampling wide variety of fare secure in the knowledge that when the time comes, as surely it will, there is more fun and productivity to be gained by diving into elephant feasting for a week or so and eating my fill whilst achieving the same ultimate goal in a fraction of the time.

What I’ve discovered and what I think has up until now obscured the view and prevented me from identifying a propensity to working better under pressure by choice, is that I also self-sabotage when there’s a task ahead that I dread. I’ve always had tasks that I dread, it’s just that up until now  my reaction to these has had the same outward appearance as those tasks that I put off because simply because I subconsciously know that I’ll perform more efficiently if I do. It’s only really now that I can tell the difference.

So what constitutes dread. For a start, it is not the difficulty. I can do hard. I can do intricate. I can do complex. I’m particularly good at dealing with a task where I’ve no idea how it’s going to pan out or what I am actually going to do – it’s enough simply to know that there must be a way through it, even though I may have absolutely no idea what that way might be when I start. I just know I’ll get through it. A bit like realising that getting lost is always temporary. If it wasn’t, you’d be lost forever.

In essence, I’ve got a project on at the moment which has really made me look at why I have delayed it and deferred it beyond reason. It turns out that my particular flavour of dread is a task at which I think I might fail because I fear that I am less skilled or knowledgeable than my peers. Where I think I might finally get found out as the fraud that the back of my mind whispers to me that I really am in moments of self-doubt.

That was a bit of en eye-opener. Useful though. Now I know what is going on I can do something about it. So I have. I looked it full in the face, worked out where it was in the cycle of repetitive failure and broke it. The beast of a task is now two thirds done and under control, on time for the deadline.

And as is usual in these posts, there’s the twist and turning of the imagination and the concurrent dealings I’ve been dealing which have uncanny parallels. As you know, in my brave new world of Cognitive Hypnotherapy, my particular focus is on pain management, fertility issues and stress related difficulties.

By co-incidence, over the same three weeks in which I’ve been wrestling with beastly workloads, I’ve fallen across a host of information on chronic pain. Articles, blogs by sufferers, on-line communities, scientific papers and the like. Almost without trying, it seems that I’ve had three weeks of soaking up more and more fascinating information. It all just makes me more and more convinced that what I’ve set out do achieve is exactly right. It is really quite stunning just how many people there are out there who suffer with chronic pain that proves incredibly difficult to treat. Until you have a reason to look, you tend to believe that good old western medicine with its multi billion pound/dollar pharmaceutical industry has got it all under control.

Not so.

There however some hopeful signs. More and more is being researched and written about how pain, particularly chronic pain, manifests itself and the mechanisms which produce it and cause it to repeat and repeat and repeat, despite whatever medical interventions are thrown at it. This is where the parallels with my self-sabotaging procrastination struck me. Bear with me, I’ll explain.

There are situations where, neurons get so used to pain that they display similar attributes to muscle memory, you know, where neural pathways develop which allow ever faster replication of muscle co-ordination and movement with less and less conscious thought. It appears that the same can occur with pain. the neurons get so used to perceiving pain, that they do it with less and less stimulation. They get better and better at telling you you’re in pain.

In addition, there’s a type of gating system in the spine which helps to regulate the perceptions of the three types of nerves which transmit touch-related feeling, (high-level short-term pain & lower-level chronic-pain and then touch itself). It seems to operate in ‘centres’ in the spine where these three nerve types pass in close proximity to each other. Whichever is the stronger of these impulses tends to get priority and closes the ‘gate’ for the others, suppressing their perception. For example, if touch is the strongest, then any other pain related sensory information is over-ridden and doesn’t get through. Likewise if one of the pain sensations is strongest, then the touch related information is less important and becomes restricted.

Here’s an interesting thing. What you think about appears to have a major effect too. Well it must do, if you think about it. Consider this, if touch happened to be the strongest impulse, then that sensation would get through. However, if there wasn’t any way of down-regulating that information then we would spend all day at the office being fully aware of the feel of the fabric on our arms, the shoes on our feet, the pressure of the chair on our well rounded backside and so on. So there’s a mechanism which shuts this information down and allows us to concentrate on issues which are far more important to our lives.

In essence, if we are in an already-safe-so-it’s-OK-to-carry-on kind of a mode then we send a deregulating signal down our spines which also shuts the gate. It’s called descending inhibition. This is what means that we simply don’t notice the touch of the clothes we wear unless something draws it to our attention. We aren’t constantly aware of how hot or cold or just right the temperature of the room is and so on. It also means that people who are in pain but who are experiencing something more important at the time, ten not to notice the pain. Think battlefield wounds, think sports injuries, think children playing happily with grazed knees. Think Manteo Mitchell who ran the last 200m of his 4x400m Olympic relay with a broken leg. He knew he’d broken it too. He still ran it in in 46.1 seconds. Amazing.

The thing is, this system also works in reverse. If you are in protection mode, not feeling safe, then your brain is on the look out for anything that might be dangerous; anything that might indicate you are under attack. And what’s its primary warning system? Pain. So what do you think your body does if it’s in protection mode, feeling defensive? It puts it’s pain sensor system on alert and opens those pain gates up wide. Just in case. The difficulty is, if you’re already in pain, it becomes ever more difficult to down-regulate the ‘gate’. Descending inhibition becomes almost impossible

So here’s one possibility of how the cycle might run where there’s apparently no residual physical issue causing the very real levels of pain that can be experienced by a chronic sufferer. Long term experience of pain tends to send most individuals into a state of self-protection, whether physically, (holding yourself to restrict movement which exacerbates pain), or mentally, (from feeling just down and fed-up, those low levels of energy which tell you to give up and stay in bed, right through to serious levels of depression and anxiety).  And what does your brain do when you’re in a self-protective state? It triggers those self-preservation early warning systems and looks for evidence of attack. Open those gates, boys, we need to be ready. Here you go again. It can be a cycle which is extremely difficult to get out of.

The good news, (really, there is some), is that this cycle appears to be able to be interrupted at any point. And if it is successfully interrupted, the cycle breaks and the body has a chance to reset the pain gates. Western medicine is adept at interrupting this cycle at two main points. The site of the initial source of pain, (interventions which assist the healing process) and reducing the pain itself back to manageable levels with a variety of analgesics  Unfortunately, it seems that if these tactics fail, there isn’t much else that medics have up their sleeves.

So how does this sort of cycle work? In essence, we ‘do’ chronic pain in the following way:

  • Something triggers the perception of pain.
  • We react unconsciously to the pain and map it into what we expect the pain to mean for us. If we suffer chronic pain, the brain jumps into its routine reaction and without us even noticing.
  • This triggers an emotional reaction and given that pain is an alarm stimulus, we are likely to react in a negative emotional way
  • The emotion triggers a set of unconscious behaviours. This is often self-protective behaviour such as lethargy, muscle stiffness, depressions and anxiety. The purpose of this could be self-restrict movement and enforce rest, designed to encourage recovery and prevent further damage.
  • It is only really at this point, once all these automatic responses have been triggered, that we realise the conscious perception of the pain.

Now, even though pain medication can be very effective, if it doesn’t work and there’s no apparent physical cause, the only recourse open to western medicine is to try again. Usually with more powerful pharmacology. As our Mr Maslow said, (he of the eponymous hierarchy-of-needs fame), ‘If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail’. In essence, if it didn’t work the first time, hit it harder.

Perhaps one way out of this maze is to find someone with tools designed for use at other points in the cycle as well.

You never know, it just might work.

What’s to lose?

Except maybe the pain.

here to stay or gone for good?© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

here to stay or gone for good?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

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64 thoughts on “Pain Procrastination and Broken Cycles

  1. I really enjoyed this article and hope that many more explore and even begin the process of wrestling with their own authenticity and the metaphors contained within your personal insights, great work, thanks for sharing, sincere regards, Barry

    • HI Barry,
      thanks for taking the time to comment on this post, I’m pleased you liked it. I have a lot of fun writing it and it definitely makes me look long and hard at myself. As for authenticity, it seems to me that it’s vital otherwise I’d be writing fiction, wouldn’t I?
      All the best
      Tony

  2. Thanks for this. Last year I took part in a clinical trial designed to test the theory you have outlined above. For me, it involved attending a 3-day course on how to cope with chronic pain.

    I do wish it had been explained in the way you did. What I took away from that course was “pain is all in the mind” and “ignore it and it will go away”. I can’t tell you how offended I felt when I realised that was the message.

    It annoyed me so much that I resolved to research for myself what I’d done to cope with my chronic pain issues. I am a Reiki Master, and Reiki got me in control of the physical problems I have to the extent that I could take a year out and retrain as a massage therapist – something I could never have imagined doing ten years ago. I’m trying to write a book on this, I’ve got so far, but I’m failing at the hurdle of finding good research on the areas around pain. If you would like to help me out with this, then please feel free to contact me. In the meanwhile, I’ll look forwards to reading the rest of your blog!
    Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      thank so much for reading and for your comments. You highlight one of the key difficulties of looking at chronic pain from the point of view of the effect that the mind can have.
      If you are not very careful indeed, it can sound exactly as you point out and as you heard on your course; that chronic pain is only in the mind and that if you ignore it it will go away. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
      The sensation of pain is very real indeed and trying to ignore it only really ends up with you unconsciously focussing on what you’re trying to ignore (you have to focus on it in order to measure whether you are successfully ignoring it!).
      For myself, my training in Cognitive Hypnotherapy and provides me with a powerful set of tools that allow me to construct client focussed solutions that are bespoke to their own experience and condition.
      Wishing you all the best for the future and your book
      Tony

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog and the like. It led me to your very interesting blog. I liked this post, you have explained it wonderfully well how the brain gets trained to react to lesser stimuli of pain more quickly and with heightened sensitivity. One feels as if one is getting weaker by the day, when one is not. It starts a vicious cycle.
    And people, especially medical professionals (my doctor friends do that too) need to realize that, “You could take painkillers for that”, is not an advice in the right direction.
    There was a point in time when I was taking three times the daily dosages of NSAIDs, and working through my residency (thankfully never fell into the narcotics trap). Got an ulcer, but that didnt stop me, it only meant I had to change the drug and take PPIs or things like that as well. What stopped me, and led to a complete life change (in a good direction), was that I crashed totally, and could not actually move enough to go to work. 🙂

    • Hi,
      thanks for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it.
      Isn’t it a shame that most people don’t find another way until medicine has let them down so much that they have to crash.
      There are signs that it is slowly changing.
      All the best
      Tony

  4. You got my interest initially in your extremely intelligent wordsmithing in the initial few paragraphs. I considered it a bit of a challenge to make headway….
    By the time I got to the “meat” of your article, I was intrigued. I am a chronic pain sufferer, and what you say above is so real for me. When the day stops, and all is quiet, that’s when the pain monster speaks the loudest.
    It seems that when you fill your time being active and positive, through keeping on with your life, (to whatever extent you can), you can avoid a lot of the reactions to pain.
    Last week when I was in hospital for pain management and infection control, the nurses were telling me about “pain syndrome”, which occurs when the body has reached it’s tolerance level, painkillers no longer “work” and the slightest touch on the patient’s skin causes a severe pain reaction. At this point medical professionals feel that they can do “nothing more” for the patient.
    Fortunately I am nowhere near this crisis, however it has made me take a very different approach to how I reach for medication.
    I am now cutting back severely on the medication I take for pain, and opting for a gentle walk with the dog, a hot bath, a movie, or a short lay down with a book. Sure the pain is still there, but it fades to grey when I am doing something I enjoy.
    So there you go, one real life experience of being frightened out of a bad habit, by a scarey story that just won’t “fit” into my very hectic lifestyle with all these kids!!
    Thanks for taking the time to read my post 🙂

    • Hi and many thanks for your comment. I’m glad it made you think but more so that you’ve found a way to help you get beyond your pain. Unless you find a way to break the cycle it can be really difficult to see what to do next. Often it takes a crisis to force the change. Hopefully the work I do as Cognitive Hypnotherapist enables clients to make that change before they hit crisis point.
      Wishing all the best for your future
      Tony

  5. A really good article Tony, highlighting a lot of specific areas. These findings have the possibility to transform our concept of pain. A scientific study in this area would give it a lot more credence to the unbelievers and followers of evidence based learning. As a spiritual person I am with you. our thoughts are very powerful things. I believe they affect our reality and send messages to our brains which in turn give the orders to our bodies. Which in essence, is the same thing you are in a different way.A fabulous article as all your posts are, I really enjoyed it, thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Athena, I’m really pleased you liked this one. Strangely enough, Cognitive Hypnotherapy is running a fully fledged evidence based research program already. However as with all these things it will take some time to deliver sufficient evidence to become statistically significant. Early indications are that we do better than CBT but there’s too little data yet for that to be fully meaningful. Watch this space!
      All the best
      Tony

  6. mmm, very interesting! and i really appreciated you starting with your own stuff, because otherwise i could quite easily have dismissed your thoughts as ‘same old new age dismissal of real life experience’. in my life i find it disturbing just how resistant nlp and other positive thinkers can be to true possibilitarianism, which must start where someone truly is (well, d’uh!) and i speak as a relentless optimist who does the impossible most days, my model being the bee in a wind tunnel, no one told the bee it can’t fly, so it does 😉
    it is very difficult, living with real/unreal pain and i found your development of the gateway model both useful and positive, but i know i was on my furthest stretch of effort to follow your thoughts because of the subtleties of the presentation, and wondered if you would consider putting a more concrete precis every now and again, for those with fibro fog or concentration spans reduced by fatigue or pain? and to bring in the amputee pain phenomenon quite early on reassures those living with horrendous pain (i feel like i am tazered in my right leg most winter days) that you do get it FEELS real, i was getting annoyed before i got reassured and kept going, but are you aware that by raising my adrenalin, that response raised cortisone/lactic acid/ pain flooding responses? it cost me, having to keep wading through…
    since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, i have tried the David Mickel approach (are you familiar with him already?) but found it could help but not heal in my case. i am also cherrypicking with berceli’s trauma releasing exercises, as many are similar to the qi gong and chiropractic release that works really well for me, trying to build on and build up 😉 and as you will be aware from your visit to birds sing artblog, i use creativity [read: anyone following their true life expression] to balance pain and fatigue on a daily basis that astonishes other people, which in turn astonishes me 😉 ART IS GOOD FOR ME!!!!
    well, apologies for the essay, and i hope it is clear that i am trying to be constructive in my feedback, i think you are on to something and it could benefit so many in so much pain…
    all good wishes!

    • Hi. Thanks so much fir putting your thoughts down so well. It’s great to get to know what someone is really thinking when they read what I write. It’s really useful.
      I always try to relate what I write to personal experience as otherwise it is just as you say, only one more re-write of new-age waffle.
      My personal view is not that this is a spiritual journey, rather it is practical therapy which has the potential to really help people who have serious issues which western medicine has not yet been able to resolve.
      I had not thought about about the tiring effect of the convoluted writing style I use. I will definitely give some thought to bringing in some shorter and more focussed posts to get the ideas across more easily.
      This was one of the best comments I’ve had, so thank you very much indeed.
      I hope I get more as time goes on.
      Wishing you all the best, and I’m really pleased you’ve found some things which help you.
      Tony

    • Hey singingbirdartist and tonyburkinshaw – really enjoyed reading both of you. I began to read your blog Tony and also thought ooohhhhhhh am going to come back to this, but started to speed read it and found that I got caught up in the tempo and kind of free association and multiangled approach to expressing your view. I love that kind of thought process. As it happens I no longer have the excruciating pain of CRPS. My pain was June 2007- Feb 2009 – not long in retrospect but time takes on a weird warp when you are in such pain. I thought I would just mention that I believe it is possible to fall in love with pain, or at least have affection for it. I say this because even though I have managed to keep the dreaded condition at bay with exercise and commitment, occasionally now my hand will turn blue and I will have some shooting pains in my little finger which travel up my arm. It is so weird, but I have a kind of affection for it, a sort of familiarity.
      I have read articles about becoming your pain and how hard it is to let go of it and take an active and conscious role in the healing process. I felt this when I was beginning to get better, but in the beginning any work I did on my hand only seemed to make things worse in terms of pain and swelling. If it had not been for a friend who lovingly massaged/stroked it at least 3 times a day and insisted on keeping on doing it even though it was so painful, I believe it may have become too sensitive to touch at all. If I try to think back about how I felt, was it positive? I can’t really say, I felt pretty sure from the lack of information in the beginning that I would have to get used to the idea of losing the use of my right hand. I did take the OT’s advice and use it, use it, but it seemed interminable – one step forward and then punishing pain – so it is difficult to really evaluate any positivity involved. Many friends thought I was crazy not to take pharma options, and to some extent I did take pain meds, but I felt more afraid of the side effects than of the pain, so fortunately for me I was able to manage without too much of that kind of intervention. But see now I am wafffffffling. Thanks for the blog Tony – really stimulating.

      • Wow! Great comments!
        You’re right about the positive associations with pain because although being in pain is highly undesirable, when you have it you end up adapting your relationship to it simply to be able to stand it at all. This can make it almost adictive and when it starts to go away, you find you miss it. Wierd but true.
        Also, you really do get increased sensetivity. When you feel pain, the nerve itself generates more sensors in it so it respnds more easily. This makes perfect sense because if you have tissue damage (broken bone etc) you need to be very aware of it so you can minimise further damage. Unfortunately, this can misfire and lead to hypersensitivity.
        I’m pleased you like the free association writing style. It’s a glimpse inside my head – weird x 2!
        All the best
        Tony

    • Absolutely, Alice. I think most chronic states have a way of expressing themselves in the body and the mind and so it can become a pattern of behaviour as well as the underlying condition. This usually leads to a downwards spiral but if something can break the pattern, it can dramatically reduce the degree to which the condition remains ‘chronic’.
      All the best & many thanks for your comments
      Tony

  7. Thanks for visiting and liking my latest blog post. I then got to discover this post of yours, which I really appreciated reading. All the best to you, Ann

    • Hi Ann,
      I’m really pleased you like it. I’m having fun writing it and it’s very gratifying to know that so many others seem to like what I’m doing,
      Wishing you all the best
      Tony

  8. How do I find someone like you in the United States? Love your entire Blog, still reading. As a chronic pain sufferer, this Blog is amazing to me. How do you find the thing to break the pattern?

    Dawn

    • Hi Dawn,
      Thanks for the comment and I’m really pleased you like what I’m doing here. I’ve no idea how you find someone in the US (unless you’re fabulously wealthy and ship me over!). There must be someone.
      Finding the ‘thing’ or things is what the therapy is about and whilst it’s simple once you’ve found it, it is not always obvious before hand.
      Key to this is being relaxed and content, extremely difficult to achieve unaided, I know.
      I wish you al the best & do keep in touch. My website has more info if you fancy taking a look: http://www.tonyburkinshaw.co.UK
      Tony

      • I was going to ask you to fly to the USA in my original message! LOL I am by no means fabulously wealthy which is unfortunate. I agree finding the “thing” or “things” that will work. That is why I keep trying anything and everything. I appreciate your response to me. I ill keep following your Blog.

      • HI Dawn,
        I’m glad you understood the tongue in cheek comment – I wasn’t actually trying to blag a free trip across the water, although who am I to refuse if you had actually said yes!
        A key aspect of chronic pain is that it sets up a pain / perception / tension /pain loop. If you can find a ‘thing’ (highly technical word, I know) which can interrupt or reduce any of those aspects of the loop, it can reduce the perception of pain.
        Medicine tends to focus on reducing the pain, which sometimes works. Where it doesn’t, though, whatever you can do to reduce the effect of the tension (physical and mental) or the perception of the role pain has in your life, then this can be massively effective.
        Good luck in your search – keep in touch
        Tony

      • I have indeed found a few “things” other than medication. I’m always looking for that one “thing.” Keep in touch. i will indeed continue to follow your Blog.

        Dawn

      • Hi Dawn,
        I don’t know whether this will be of interest to you but after negotiating with my insurers, I have got the go ahead to provide therapy via Skype both nationally & internationally.

        So, going back to your original comment ‘Where do you find someone like me in the US?’, if it is what you’re looking for, you can actually use me.

        If you would like to know more about this, let me know.

        You could either comment again here, or email me on tony@tonyburkinshaw.co.uk.

        Wishing you all the best
        Tony

      • And to think I was seriously just kidding when I asked you if you ever come to the USA. Then your response about if I was wealthy! This is amazing! My email address is myinnercourage@aol.com if you would like to shoot me an email explaining the details and how we get started! Blessings my friend!

      • Hi, will reply soon by email. I’m glad we might be able to do something.
        I’m on a day off today but will give you details very soon.
        Several things have come together to make this happen, not least of which was our comment conversation.
        Wishing you all the best
        Tony
        PS I think I’m going stop my ‘humourous’ quip about wealth and travel. I forget that irony doesn’t travel well!

      • Hi Dawn,
        Did you get the email I sent yesterday? It was a little formal as it goes into the practicalities etc I hope it makes sense.
        If you have any questions or comments, just let me know.
        All the best
        Tony

      • I haven’t checked my email but will do so shortly. Thank you!

  9. “Thank you Tony for reading my blog it’s encouraging to realize others are concerned about you and your creative venture.” Sam

    • Hi there,
      I’d be delighted for you to share it. I’m really pleased you think this would help a wider audience.
      If you think they might like the blog as a whole, do feel free to include a link to it as well.
      Could you let me know which online chronic pain group it is, as I’m always interested in what support groups are out there.
      Wishing you all the best & let me know if they like it!
      Tony

  10. thank you fro reading my blog. You have some very interesting concepts introduced here and I will be talking with my pain doctor about it. I will try some things to interrupt my cycle and see what happens.

  11. You gave me a gift by liking my blog today, because that caused me to re-visit yours. And this was a very useful post for me to read this morning, because I am definitely “On Alert”, big time, lately. So thank you so much for writing this, so I could find it on a day I really needed it. This post was part of my personal medicine today. All the best, Ann

  12. Thank you so much for explaining so much about how we perceive pain. Anyone could benefit from this information.

    What you were saying about procrastination–I could identify with. But my problem is worse than that. I would get hypnotized if I could. I know what the problem is–I mean, more or less how it has arisen in my life from traumatic patterns in my childhood. But, well, it seems to just be no use. Inferiority is a big part of it, but it’s my hurt inner child…I get panic attacks just thinking I can do something for myself, routine things that simply prove I’m an adult.

    I look forward to reading more of what you have to say. All the best in your new career!

    • I’m glad it meant something to you.
      When you say you’d get hypnotised if you could, what is it that is holding you back from seeing out such help?
      From what you say, I suspect it might prove useful for you.
      Feel free to keep this conversation going if it would help or drop me an email at tony@tonyburkinshaw.co.uk
      All the best
      Tony

  13. HI Tony thank you for stopping by my blog I enjoyed reading this article. It reminds me of when I teach yoga and some students feel pain in certain poses. I teach them to go to that area where they feel the sensations, acknowledge it, feel the shape and sensations of the pain, is it hard or soft? Warm or cold? Jabbing or throbbing? They when they have investigated a bit without walking away I teach them to take their thoughts to another part of the body that feels good. Often students feel that they need to ‘nurse’ certain injuries so they never work that part of the body again. I think within reason, if it is not causing more harm to the body in a structural way then going in and investigating is a brave way to view pain and from there the feeling often dissipates. This is the most important teaching, that everything will change. Oh might have to go and blog about all that now!

    • Absolutely! This would be a great topic for a post.

      Many thanks for the comment – it was a good read on it’s own, let alone fleshed out into your blog.

      All the best
      tony

  14. Pingback: Sharing wellbeing among bloggers | Biochemical Alchemy

  15. Thanks for visiting abeautifulpain.com and liking my post. In turn, I thoroughly enjoyed this post – it makes a lot of sense. I’m still trying to get my head around the physiological and psychological processes involved in chronic pain, and you explain it very well. I look forward to reading more of your blog. 🙂

  16. Good Stuff! This is very captivating & enlightening – Also makes me wonder about the power of “Higher Consciousness” … Excellent Post

  17. Reblogged this on Darswords and commented:
    This has me rethinking about my pain and all the classes I have taken such as Reiki 1 and 2 and hypnotherapy and meditation. I must not be approaching my own problems correctly or I would not be in this pain so much of my life. I need to learn what to do before I disappear from this realm. Maybe there are some answers here?

    • I hope that you may find some answers and perhaps some of them will be in this blog.
      Many thanks for the reblog, I’m pleased you like it enough to spread the word.
      All the best & stay in touch
      Tony

  18. Thank you for visiting and liking a couple of my blogs. I really enjoyed your blog and reblogged it onto my own with this statement:
    This has me rethinking about my pain and all the classes I have taken such as Reiki 1 and 2 and hypnotherapy and meditation. I must not be approaching my own problems correctly or I would not be in this pain so much of my life. I need to learn what to do before I disappear from this realm. Maybe there are some answers here?

    I will continue to read your blogs and seek what answers you may have for me. Thank you again.

    • It is indeed. One of the key factors in long term pain is the degree to which the unconscious mind perceives itself to live in a threatening environment.
      ‘Healing the soul’ could be an important step.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s good to have a conversation,
      All the best
      Tony

  19. I’ve had this same conversation in my head many times – from the procrastination (for the same reasons) to the hypnotherapy knowledge, to the knowledge of touch/pain. I love using the knowledge on other people but have had a difficult time finding other people with a similar understanding to bounce ideas off for my own conditions. Perhaps we can try? If you’re interested, I could tell you about a rare pain condition I have and see what ideas we can come up with. Let me know.

  20. This is an excellent post. In fact I am on meds for anxiety and depression right now. The “cycle” makes so much sense to me. But I still don’t understand this line: “Perhaps one way out of this maze is to find someone with tools designed for use at other points in the cycle as well.”

    Are you saying that we should find solutions to our issues at different parts of the cycle? For example, when the “trigger” hits us, do something then? Is this not where therapy comes in? The goal is to try and find “cures” at these other stages in the cycle. I often try to “reframe” the way I look at the adverse — or perceived adverse — situation or, if I can, try to resolve it ASAP. But this does not always work. My therapist has told me that sometimes we just have to endure the stress/anxiety of certain things. Can you expand a little bit on this???

    • Hi & many thanks for your comments.
      In Cognitive Hypnotherapy, we use the concept of a pattern of events within a behaviour cycle which the unconscious follows in response to certain triggers.
      In order for the behaviour pattern to run as a cycle, each step must occur. Because of this, the pattern can be interrupted at any point in the cycle with the effect that it either cannot run or that it runs differently, so the unconscious has to reframe the usefulness of that cycle.
      Understanding what this pattern looks like for each individual then allows the use of a variety of tools to try to disrupt the pattern at whichever seems the most appropriate point for the client.
      In essence the pattern runs as follows;
      Stimulus – the unconscious spots a particular sensory ‘input’
      Matrix comparison: it compares this event to other ‘key’ events. If it finds a ‘match’ it moves to..
      Emotion: the matched stimulus creates an emotional reaction (fear, hate, stress, anxiety, love, happiness etc)
      Response: Depending on the emotion and its strength, a behaviour or thought pattern is automatically triggered.
      Termination: at some point, this particular behaviour or thought response ends (the panic attack ceases, the depression episode lifts, the embarrassment passes)
      Evaluation: there is an unconscious cognitive appraisal of what occurred & did it meet its unconscious objectives. Usually, these objectives were formed when very young, or are based on ‘safety’ where the evolutionary definition of ‘safe’ equals ‘still alive’. (i.e. not appropriate for modern or adult society).
      If the objectives were achieved, the behaviour is reinforced and will run again, despite your best conscious intentions.
      Anything which can disrupt this pattern can be effective in removing or reducing its impact and lead to an unconscious reassessment of the usefulness of the whole pattern.
      Many therapies concentrate on one or two points in the pattern. Counselling, for example, looks at the emotion and the stimulus: Cognitive behavioural Therapy looks at the behaviour pattern.
      Cognitive Hypnotherapy, for example, has tools which can be used at all of these pattern stages.
      I hope this helps to explain what I meant by tools designed to be used at other points in the cycle as well.
      I wish you all the best
      Tony

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