Episode 6: Pain as an Identity
Pain is created inside your brain, which means its all in your head. This also means you have the power to change your brain and thus your experience of pain.
This is the Pain Changer Podcast Episode Six – Have you experienced pain for so long? That you don’t remember what life is like without it? Have you forgotten who you were or what you’re about before your pain began? If so, pain may have become part of your identity. What you can do about that? What you can do about that is coming up next. The day I finally broke through my back pain for the first time wound up being a much more humbling day than I had expected it to be, in my mind, well, first, I didn’t fully believe I could relieve my pain without surgery. But if I could, I imagined tears of joy and some sort of celebration. What actually happened was a massive panic attack, followed by a major soul searching. That day was a combination of emotions for me that I didn’t really fully understand until later. Needless to say, it wasn’t a joyful celebration I had pictured. Needless to say, it wasn’t the joyful celebration that I had pictured. But what I discovered was absolutely perfect. The first time I met Shannon in person, it was more than six months after we started working together. My coaches were the first two people I ever let truly see me. And going from allowing them to know me over the phone to knowing me in person was a huge step for me at the time. I was so withdrawn and wrapped up in my pain. Shannon helped me shift that. As we were preparing my house for a sacred plant ceremony, Shana noted. As we were preparing my house for sacred plant ceremony, Sharon noted, Jesus. As we were preparing my house for a sacred plant ceremony, Shannon noted that I was telling her that I was in pain, a lot saying that wrong. As we were preparing my house for a sacred plant ceremony, Shannon noted that I was telling her that I was in pain a lot. I’m not sure how many times I said it before she calmly and loving me. I’m not sure how many times I said it before, she calmly and lovingly looked me in the eye and said, I know you’re in pain, you move like you’re in pain, your face shows pain. And every time you tell yourself, you’re in pain, you will go deeper into that pain, it will become part of your identity. I didn’t really like that idea. And I immediately rejected it. Only. I really didn’t like that idea or thought and I immediately rejected it. Only 18 Months Later though, I was faced with the reality that pain had indeed become part of my identity. This reality hit me like a ton of bricks during my first cognitive movement session with Bill McKenna. When I went from Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I can’t talk today. This reality hit me like a ton of bricks during my first cognitive movement session with Bill McKenna. When I went from relief to panic, that my back pain had gone. Why would an absence of pain make me panic? There’s no logical reason. So I went digging. Where was this coming from? I kept asking myself that question over and over again, as I paste my house and yard. Why was I freaking out? Did I need doctors? No. Did I trust the pain was gone for good? Not yet. But that wasn’t the source of the panic. Then slowly, like the way you see someone slowly turned into a horror movie when the monster is directly behind them. It hit me. Oh, boy, did it hit me. As I share this with you, I am forcing myself to swallow my pride and be real, because that’s what I pledged to do as a coach, and I don’t break my pledges. It turned out I was getting a lot out of my pain. And you probably are too. If you’re anything like me, it’s going to be a cringe-worthy moment in your life to realize what it gives you. It won’t be rational and it is certainly not conscious. I say this to help you examine your own patterns with curiosity, not with judgment. None of these are conscious patterns, none of them. So what was I getting out of pain? Well for one, somewhere along the way, I decided I would be a better pain management coach if I had heard surgery, documented the whole thing and taught others from that experience. That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But that was part of it. It all gave me a weight of commitments, which I’m really not proud to share. When pain levels started to get really intrusive I had just got in. When pain level started to get really intrusive I had just gotten into skydiving. Now, that’s not a coincidence. Nor is that my whole pain story. And when I got around a certain group of friends, I felt like I was under a microscope, they meant well, but I felt really out of place. So I use my health a lot as an excuse not to show up sometimes. If you guys are listening, and you know who you are, I’m sorry. These days, I find it much easier to simply not commit if I’m unsure of whether I want to go. Or these days, I find it much easier to simply not commit if I’m unsure of whether I want to go and I only cancel if I am really legitimately not up for it. What else was pain giving me that still sounds so weird to say it, but it was true. For any state you’re in you do not stay there unless you get something out of it. I’m going to circle back to this idea in a moment. Once I share what else pain was giving me. Pain was making me feel superior in some ways. And wow, hearing myself say that out loud. I sound like such a deck. There were two ways that it made me feel better about myself though. The first was that I bragged about my high pain tolerance. A three to me is like a seven to you. And I felt like I was stronger because I was still somewhat functional before disability anyway, with high levels of pain. As I hear myself say this I want to cringe because I hear. As I hear myself say this I want to cringe because I hear others who have pain say that to yes, it’s understandable to be proud that you can handle pain is still navigate life. But you can still be strong without pain to you do not have to suffer in order to show the world you are a badass. The second way it made me feel superior was in my career. I was still in cybersecurity sales. And I earned two awards during the years that body pain was the highest. That made me feel like I can keep up with my colleagues. And I heard this much too. None of those patterns were conscious. However, they do explain the panic. Who was I if I didn’t have back pain? How can I measure my strength without pain? Would I still be strong if I didn’t hurt how piece about surgery making me a better coach that was super easy to flip on its head. Resolving my pain without surgery made me feel pretty badass, I won’t lie. There was also fear within that though, too. Even as I went through the process of disengaging pain from who I am as a person, I was marveling at the layers. As I mentioned in episode four, where we discuss what it means to live in a country where diseases for profit. It had taken me a long time. As I mentioned in episode four, where we discussed what it means to live in a country where diseases for profit, it did take me a long time for my doctors to see me and the level of pain I was enduring. If I cancelled my tests, how long would it take me to get their attention again, if I needed it? Would I have to suffer for months again and start from scratch. I didn’t yet trust that I can control the pain. I only knew I had finally broken through it. My brain didn’t yet look at my life and options without the threat of pain lingering over my head. I didn’t realize yet that I had just sped up the level of healing in my mind, body and spirit. Initially, I plan to still go through with the imaging and neurosurgery console. Until the pain management therapist I started to see suggested I stopped trying to be the perfect patient and cancel the imaging I no longer needed. I only had two sessions with her, one to tell me what it would be like to work with her and the other where she smiled and told me I had gotten further with cognitive movement than she had hoped to be able to get me. She helped validate my fears to cancel the tests. And she also helped me let go of thinking I still needed them. She made it very simple. And I will relay the simplicity to you now. If it no longer hurts, or interferes with your life. You no longer need the test. Even in the weeks after I broke through my pain, I kept waiting for my doctors to try to pull me back in again. But like I said in episode four, I do think doctors are good people who want you to feel better. Mine certainly did. They were surprised at the difference. And they were also really happy for me. It’s now been more than 18 months since I cancelled those tests. And I have not regretted that decision at all. Not even one time. If pain ever gets so high, I can’t deal with it on my own, I can start down that track again. But the chances of that happening is not that high, since I’m continuing to address any elements that feed into my pain levels as they come up. In fact, the more work I do on myself, the better my body feels. As long as I’m holding solo dance parties in my house that invite the judgment of my cats. And trust me, they judge me, and I’m singing terribly at the top of my lungs while I clean, because terribly is the only way I can sing right now. And I know I am still heading in the right direction. If you’re feeling any discomfort and listening to this episode, perhaps because you see that pain has become part of your identity. Take a deep breath. I see you, I got you. I’m sharing this with you because I was in your shoes not that long ago, four years ago, I was freaking disabled. My whole life is completely different from where I was four years is not a long time. I’ve steadily regained more and more of my life as I work through the complexity, that was my chronic pain. And you will experience the same as you start to navigate the complexity that is your chronic pain. I am proof that you can have quick shifts to relief. I’m proof that you can have quick shifts to release pain. It may not be easy, but it’s not as hard. It may not be easy. But it’s not as hard as you think it will be. I promise. The first place to start to break away from that identity is to know what you’ll do and who you’ll be when you have little to no pain left in your body. If you have no idea, no image, no visual of who that person can be, then that’s an obstacle to alleviating your pain. Start there. Who are you if you don’t hurt? How can you be just as interesting as that persona? As you are now? Could you potentially be more interesting as the person who conquered chronic pain? If you aren’t sure he would you would then go back to who you were before the pain began to take the if you aren’t sure of who you would be, then go back to who you were before the pain began to take away the things you love. What did you love to do the most? Who were you? Did you like that person? If not, that’s okay. Just look back over your life with curiosity. But please, don’t judge yourself for anything you’ve done. Judgment is really tough on your psyche. If you liked who you were before the pain began, that is awesome. How can you reconnect to who that person is? What’s different about you now? What’s the same? How can you bring back more of what you liked? I really didn’t like the person I was when I was in pain. And I didn’t respect the person I was when I led myself to pay. Part of my focus to help me identify with who I truly wanted to be was to picture who I wanted to be. Am I that person yet? Yes and no. Mostly yes, though. I’m a work in progress, just like you. This new career I’ve started for myself is my purpose in life. My entire life, I have always wanted to be of service. And my work history shows that my values and level of integrity are much higher now though. I’m vastly more honest, and I can. I’m vastly more honest, and I can let people really see who I am now. Whereas before I hid my true self behind what I could do. I really like and love the person I am today. Being able to not only accept myself, but to also like and love myself. That was an important piece to resolving the pain to the degree that I now have. So what about you? Do you like and love yourself right now. And I am still working on myself and on areas. I don’t like that much about myself right now. But I accept those areas. And I know I can improve them such as I still have a tendency to overwork myself, my last career, overworking and do all the skin. So what about you? Do you like and love yourself right now. And I am still working on myself and on areas. I don’t like that much about myself right now. But I accept those areas and I know I can improve them. Such as I still have a tendency to overwork myself. In my last career, overworking gave me a place to hide that lead to burnout which is something I do not want to repeat In this career, I love what I’m doing so much that I’m struggling to pace myself and all of my ideas, I have to be of service to you. So I’m correcting that as I write this episode, so that I can to continue the villa. So I’m correcting that as I write this episode, so that I continue to be there for you motherfuck. So I am correcting that as I write this episode, so that I can continue to be there for you. And for my clients, my family and my friends. This is an important piece for you to find for yourself. If you haven’t found it yet, I have reason to get out of bed that you are deeply connected to. That’s where it starts just a better reason to get out of bed. The hope of this career and what I can now do to help people is what helped me start the work initially, that I’m getting a puppy. Now it’s automatic, and the pain is no longer part of my identity. You will build on this in time. First, it’s a reason to get out of bed, then it’s a reason for a smile, and joy and laughter and to really feel alive, not just blindly going through the days and wondering if it will ever get better. You will start to enjoy life again as you shed pain as part of your identity. The next thing I want you to do to help break away chronic pain from your identity, create a bucket list. What do you want to do in this life? Do you want to travel? Do you want to learn to play an instrument? Do you want to learn to dance in the rain, climb mountain, visit all seven continents, what’s on your bucket list? Take some time and create one if you don’t have one already. Don’t worry about any doubts of whether it’s possible for you to do those things in your list. There is an amazing power to putting our attention on paper and seeing what you want to do for ourselves lips. Don’t worry about any doubts of whether it’s possible for you to do those things on your list. There is an amazing power to putting your intentions on paper and seeing what you want to do. What the hell is there is an amazing seeing what we want to do first, okay. Don’t worry about any doubts of whether it’s possible for you to do those things on your list. There is an amazing power to put in your attention on paper in seeing what you want to do for yourself. Don’t worry about any doubts of whether it’s possible for you to do those things on your list. There is an amazing power to putting your intentions on paper and seeing what you want to do for yourself. Take some time and think about what you really want for yourself in this life. What excites you? What brings a smile to your face? What do you want to experience for yourself? Write it down. Pause this episode. If you’re in a place safe to do so only if you’re in a place safe to do so. Pause it and write it down right now. I hope today has shown you that you can start to break away from a nightmare. That is your pain. I want you to take action for yourself. When you hear something that resonates with you. Nothing will change unless you start to make changes. Just start to consider this idea. Especially if you felt yourself getting angry or calling bullshit on me today. Thank you for joining me. Next week’s teaser. Do you think that it’s going to take you years to feel better? Even just a little bit? Well, let me be the first to tell you that’s not true. Next week, we’re going to discuss the pain journey in more detail, especially as you move from the corrective stage to the maintenance stage. Next week’s episode will blow away that limiting belief and you won’t want to miss it.