At this point anyone with a chronic illness knows that stress increases their flares (or likelihood of a flare). But, are you creating your own flares, and the stress that creates them? You could be controlling both the stress and the flares. I know it’s hard to imagine that we actually have any control over this pain that our bodies give us. But, the truth is that you can control your pain.
Not long ago I wrote a post on how our perceptions of stress impact our pain. Then recently I read this post on Forget Fibromyalgia and it triggered the thought again. How often do we create the perception of pain when it’s not really there. I say this because I know that for me early on in Fibromyalgia storms were my worst trigger. Almost everyone with Fibro carries the belief that weather changes make them feel worse. We all have something that “know” makes us feel worse. But, does it really? Does it really make us feel worse all the time? Or, is possible that maybe it did once (or many times) but now it’s not the trigger that makes you feel worse but the stress that is created by simply thinking about how that trigger has made you feel in the past.
I think of it a bit like Pavlov’s dog. The trigger is our bell, but the pain may or may not really be there anymore. We are just so used to feeling that pain when we “hear the bell” (or encounter the trigger) that we automatically stress out and that stress is what creates the pain. I know that for me, storms don’t impact me nearly the way that they used to. Occasionally, a bad one will still set my nerves on fire. But, overall they don’t really bother me as much. Sex is another area that I’ve had a lot of pain and I know that at times the pain is created simply by the stress that I create in my brain at the knowledge that it COULD hurt. My brain knows it could hurt, so I stress at the thought of the potential pain, tightening my muscles, and then creating the very pain I was worried might occur.
Can you think of times that you might be creating the pain you are trying to avoid? Does thinking about the potential of pain stress you out to the point that you might be creating the pain you wish to avoid?
So, what’s the answer? Check out this quote from Forget Fibromyalgia’s post:
“Our perception is based on our beliefs and values. Generally people think that when an event occurs, it triggers an emotion such as stress, but that is not actually the case. It is the emotion that leads to thoughts that in turn result in the emotion.”
“Your current mood changes your perception, which some days makes you feel like everything is wrong and intensifies the pain you feel.”
The answer goes back to my earlier post. We have to change our perceptions to take control of our pain. When we can feel that we have more control over the situation (something we all crave with our Type A personalities), and we can say to ourselves: “That thing it doesn’t really affect me all that much. I’ll be alright”, instead of saying “I hate storms, they really mess with my body and leave me in a lot of pain”, then we don’t feel as much pain. Over time, the more you do this the less pain you feel. The more positive your outlook is, and the more positive your outlook is, the fewer symptoms you will experience.
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