If you didn’t have pain, what would you be doing differently?
I have a client who has been in physical pain for many months, off and on approaching years, in fact. She has attributed it to a car accident. Science tells me in her case, 2 things. One is that the ‘damage’ to her spine is not likely the cause of her pain, and the other is that it is unlikely that the accident she had could actually cause the ‘damage’ she does show up on x-ray and MRI.
Week in and week out, when she comes in, she tells me in exquisite detail, over and over, the woes of her physical life and her social life. Every week, I ask her to focus her attention on the progress she is making, the decreased amount of pain, the increased distance she can walk without pain, etc., which she also reports. It seems that celebrating and savoring these changes is quite difficult for her. Her focus is her pain, no matter what else she is experiencing. She just keeps asking when she would be out of pain.
Recently, I asked her what would she be doing differently if she was out of pain. What is missing now, what can’t she do now because of the pain she is in. My intention was to bring to the foreground of her attention her intention. What did she want from life?
Her answer surprised me. She said that if she felt better she was afraid that people would want her to do more. That she wouldn’t get the help she needed. As much as I prompted, She did not actually say what she did want. In the end, the needs ~ what is important to her ~ seem relatively clear. Support, dependability, nurturing and ease come to my mind.
Her strategy to get these needs met seems so tragic to me. She is in pain, and unhappy. And, she doesn’t ‘have to’ do the thing she imagines people would ask her to do if she were well.
Is this familiar to you? How aware are you of what you are wanting in your life? How stuck are you in the one or two strategies that you have discovered over time get those needs met (no matter how tragically)? Are you on the PAIN WHEEL?
In the case of this client, I would love her to free herself from her belief that if people expect and even ask her to do things, that she has no choice but to say yes. It isn’t true and the prison of pain she is living into is devastating to her happiness and joy of life. For my client, learning the skill of being able to say yes and no to requests gracefully and compassionately would be quite empowering and dare I say, make her life more wonderful.
If you are in chronic pain ~ emotional or physical ~ sure, being out of pain would be quite delightful. Just make sure you ask yourself why? Ask the deeper questions. Questions you want the answers to. Questions that can actually be answered and will make a difference in your life.
Here are some examples:
What experience do I want to have in my life?
How can I have more of this regardless of my pain?
What is my pain keeping me from experiencing?