What Does Mindset Have to do with Pain?

mindset pain relief

You’ve heard of people throwing out their backs lifting something, right? 

Sometimes, this happened because the person was rushed and wanted to quickly get the task over with. More often, it was because they had always done it that way and didn’t even think about it possibly hurting them. 

Now we’ve all heard that we should bend our knees, drop our butts to the ground, then lift an item with it as close to our bodies as possible.  But very few of us actually do this. Why? Because the other way, where you just bend over at the waist with your legs straight, is much easier and faster. 

Easier and faster is a mindset. And it makes us surprisingly prone to injury and pain.

Ok, so that’s an example of how mindset affects acute pain. 

Now let’s talk about chronic pain.

Chronic pain means that you’ve experienced pain for longer than 6 months, past the time it takes for any physical bodily tissue to heal. Chronic pain tends not to exacerbated by something physical as it is by something psychological or emotional. 

I believe that chronic pain is in part a physical manifestation of something deeper going on in the body and mind. That something deeper is usually stress in some form. As I’m sure each person with chronic pain will tell you, stress and pain are part of the same vicious cycle.

Stress, whether good or bad, is caused by a mindset. 

Stress is caused not by our external surroundings or circumstances but rather our interpretations and corresponding reactions to them. It’s caused by the way we think about our lives. 

For example, say you’re leaving work at 5pm to go home on a Friday. You glance down at your phone on the way out to your car and see a notification for an email sent by your boss. 

What do you do? 

You might throw your hands up in frustration or anger, then say, “Fuck that, it’s Friday, and I’m going home. Not dealing with this shit.” 

Or you might glance at it, turn the screen off, and continue on about your evening with a “I’ll check it out Monday morning. If it’s an emergency, my boss would call.” 

Or you might take a look and get excited about possibly getting good news and open the email. 

How would you rate each reaction for the level of stress? The first one seems to be the most stressful; the second one is kind of neutral, and the third one is a good kind of stress. 

Now let’s slow down each stress reaction to find the mindset that caused it. 

In the first one, the mindset sounds like, “My boss is always trying to make my life difficult, I hate my job, and I live for the weekends.”  In the second one, it’s more like, “I know and respect my boundaries and my boss does, too.” In the third one, it could be, “I’m expecting good news.” 

Out of these three examples, which ones do you think would flare up pain? 

Yea, I vote for the first one too. 

Here’s a thought: Mindset is a filter through which stress and pain may be triggered. 

When we experience anything in life, none of us see it for the way it is objectively. We always filter it through our own subjective mindsets. Depending on which mindset we filter it through, we have certain reaction – good stress, neutral, or bad stress. 

Therefore, in order to have less stress and pain, the underlying mindset needs to change. When you have a negative mindset, you will filter all of your experiences through this negative mindset, creating thoughts and emotions that lead to stress and pain. 

If your underlying mindsets are focused on positivity, rollng with the punches, and exuding kindness to yourself and others, for example, you’re less likely to filter your experiences through a negative lens that leads to stress and pain. 

An experiment for you: 

With each meal for one week, chart your stress and pain levels (on a sliding scale 0-10, 0 = no stress or pain and 10 = excruciating stress and pain) and notice whether you see a correlation between the two.

Pick one event that stressed you out and flared up your pain and break it down by asking yourself, “Why did I have this reaction?” Keep asking yourself this until the answers start sounding the same, which means you have found the underlying mindset. It could be anything from, “I want everyone to be happy” to “I’m not good enough.” 

There’s a certain sense of empowerment that comes with figuring out an underlying cause to pain that you had not previously noticed. Awareness is a big step in creating change. 

For some of us, changing a mindset can be as simple as becoming aware of it and then consciously practicing an improved mindset until the old one is nothing but a faint memory. 

But for most of us, this is way easier said than done. If you are looking for more help or have any questions, please feel free to email me (mailto: jessica@jessicamaytang.com) or schedule a free 15 min consultation call!