What's the Purpose of your pain?
~ Flowers do not bloom without rain. Everything has it's purpose, even Pain ~
All pain has a purpose. Yes, it makes us irritable and scared and sometimes downright miserable. But what's it's real purpose? It's higher purpose?
This serves to tell us about damage or potential damage to our bodies. It's a call to action. So if we cut ourselves or break a bone we feel pain to make sure we know we've damaged ourselves and that we need to take action to sort it out.
Or pain can warn us to step away from the fire so we don't burn ourselves, or to move our foot from under the rock so we don't get a crush injury. Pain warns us to go and get checked at the doctors for disease.
Acute pain is ultimately a message, created by our brain, to tell us to take action, remove ourselves from the danger or to get the injury dealt with.
Now we come to Chronic Pain.
This varies slightly from acute pain in that numerous studies have shown that chronic pain is no longer about tissue damage (see my previous blog Chronic Pain - what do we really know? where I discuss this in more detail).
Chronic pain has been found to have links with emotional pain or trauma that may or may not be connected to an initial injury. However, chronic pain is still a message and serves an important purpose - to protect, preserve or provide for us.
You see, all pain is ultimately created by our brains, the control centre of every single function within us.
In acute pain, our tissues send messages up to our brain and our brain then decides what action it needs to take - creates inflammation, increases white blood cells to fight infection, creates pain to make us aware there's a problem.
In chronic pain, our brain creates pain in order to protect us in some way, to preserve something or to provide something. This isn't a conscious decision, nobody would choose to have chronic pain. This is your unconscious, or subconscious, mind at work, the bit of your brain that runs all the programmes in your body.
And, believe it or not, everything your unconscious mind does it does with the best of intentions, its primary role being to keep you safe.
So what could possibly be a worthy intention for making you live with pain day in, day out?
One lady I worked with had pain in order to stop her from being overworked by a demanding and unappreciative boss
Another had tooth pain to ensure she looked after her teeth better by brushing them regularly
A man I worked with had pain in his hands, feet, guts to keep him inside where it was safe after years of abuse as a child
A lady had migraines to make her stop rushing around and pushing herself so hard
Another lady had arthritic pain after an abusive relationship - the pain stopped her going out and meeting anyone new
Once you know why you have the pain then your mind can come up with better alternatives to pain that will still achieve the same result (ie, keep you safe) or you can learn to deal with the root cause behind the problem. Or maybe your unconscious is running outdated programmes based on old, outdated information that just needs updating to your current situation.
To put this into context:
The lady with the pushy boss dealt with past events that had impacted her self esteem and learned to be more assertive. The pain no longer had to say 'No' for her, she could say it herself.
The lady with the teeth started brushing twice a day. The pain no longer needed to remind her of the risk of tooth decay.
The man was able to work through and process the trauma he'd experienced as a child so he no longer relives it on a daily basis. We updated his programmes to his current situation rather than running old programmes from childhood. The pain is no longer needed to protect him.
The lady with the migraines dealt with past events that had caused her to have low self worth so she no longer felt the need to be perfect or prove herself all the time. The pain was no longer needed to slow her down.
The lady with joint pain was able to process the traumatic events that she suffered in her relationship and now feels safe. She was able to see that her past relationship had no bearing on future relationships. The pain was no longer needed to protect her from a potentially bad relationship.