HELP ME UNDERSTAND...Why am I hurting?

After my August 5th TV appearance on Hallmark Channel's HOME & FAMILY Show on healing chronic pain, I've been getting a lot of questions regarding why our bodies react to repressed emotions by sending pain signals to different areas within us. Let me do my best to explain.

Watch the clip here:

It’s pretty simple.

Each of us has certain givens that we are taught from birth, by both our families and by society at large. 

We are taught to be good. We are taught to be polite. We are taught to suck it up, and be the person, friend, parent or spouse we are “supposed” to be. And we learn. YOU learn. You pride yourself on being  a “good” person – pulling your weight, being fair, letting things go, having patience.  

Right? That’s you. Or maybe on your best day that’s you.

The problem with this very expected societal given, though, is that you may not allow yourself to feel what is a very normal response to whatever difficult situation you have going on in your life, or your upsetting or conflictual memories from childhood. Not to mention the damage you sustain by your own inner critic created long ago, who sits in constant judgment of your own behavior.

You don’t feel patient, or kind, or understanding, or loving. You don’t want to let it go. Inside, you are only 5-years-old. Think about a preschooler you know. That voice is the voice inside of you, responding to your difficult boss, or your unappreciative kids, or your judgmental mother! It is screaming and tantruming all day long, but it's not acceptable to think these thoughts.

Here's the rub: YOU (the one reading this) are not 5-years-old. And the part of your brain that is thinking her thoughts is very inconvenient for getting through your day, and managing your life, and being kind to your family.

So you have a RELFEX.  It is as natural a reflex as your leg popping up when the doctor taps your knee.

Without any conscious effort on your part, you push down feelings of anger or resentment because you know those feelings aren’t “nice”.  They aren’t acceptable. The moment you even begin to feel them, your mind is in motion explaining to you all the reasons that thinking these dark thoughts will get you nowhere. So, you shoo them away.

Here’s what happens: Thoughts build up; the feelings reach critical mass and refuse to be pushed down anymore. They start to come up.  

But your brain says, “NO! That’s not cool to feel those impolite, politically incorrect things! It does not assist in your survival!”

Remember, our brains are often still operating in the same fight or flight survival techniques since the dawn of man. If the brain does not find something adaptive, it will do its best to protect you.

You see, it thinks it is protecting you. 

As the brain throws this hissy fit in your subconscious, some place in your body seizes up, knots up, cramps up. Just like the headache or the stomach ache or the hives that erupt when you identify as "really stressed," your body is responding to frustration - a bigger frustration than you can even conceive of. The pain appears, and all of a sudden...

The brain has done its job! It’s distracted you from the thought or feeling you don’t want to have. 

So now, you are safe. You are back in the driver’s seat. You get to go to doctor’s appointments!  Or cancel your plans because you’re too uncomfortable to join the group. Or lament tearfully to friends and family over the limits of your life!. Or maybe you get to abuse yourself. You can eat too much or drink too much or take a few more of those pills than the prescription suggests.

Anything not to feel the pain.

It's not your fault. But you do have the power to give those feelings a voice, and remove the need for your brain to send pain signals to your body.

Read the book, and follow the plan. There is a cure for chronic pain. Trust me, and take back your life.