Life is shaped by the mind. We become what we think.
We all know about the benefits of positive thinking and of having a positive attitude toward life. A positive attitude influences the way we feel; we feel confident, enthusiastic, happy, joyful, and in control of our lives. It is of particular importance to you and me because it is well proven that our thoughts directly affect the functioning of our bodies; our thoughts translate immediately into physical or emotional reality. No sooner do thoughts enter our minds than changes occur in our bodies or emotions; it is as instantaneous as switching on a light. Think how wonderful this knowledge is. It means we can actually have some influence on our bodies and emotions and can make a positive contribution to reducing our pain and healing ourselves.
We all have a tremendous healing force within our bodies. Our bodies have a natural self-righting or healing mechanism that strives continuously to heal and repair any damaged part. All the individual cells in our bodies are already doing their best both to heal us and to lower our pain levels by producing endorphins, our own natural painkiller. With the encouragement of a positive attitude, they can do even better.
By carrying out the following experiment, you will prove for yourself that your thoughts, your emotions, and your body are inextricably linked.
HOW THOUGHTS AFFECT YOUR EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL BEING
Test Your Muscles
1. For this experiment you will need a piece of paper. Use your dominant hand--that is, the hand you write with--and hold the piece of paper firmly between your thumb and your third finger. Now, hold the other end of the paper with the index finger and the thumb of your other hand. Test the strength of your grip by trying to pull the piece of paper out from between your thumb and third finger. You will find this very difficult to do.
2. Next, deliberately introduce some negative thoughts. With the paper held as before, between your thumb and third finger, tell yourself you are a weak and powerless person, a victim of pain. Now try again to pull out the paper with the thumb and forefinger of your other hand. You will find the paper slips out quite easily. Your muscles will have immediately become weaker because of your negative thoughts. Now, very quickly, in order to rid yourself of the negative thoughts, blow all the thoughts away and shake your hands to rid them of any unwanted vibrations.
3. Last, grip the paper again in the same way and this time treat yourself to lots of positive thoughts. Praise yourself and tell yourself how wonderful you are, that you are strong and invincible and in charge of your life. Now try to pull out the paper. You will find that your muscles are now full of strength and the paper cannot be easily removed. The positive thoughts have given instant strength to your body.
BUILDING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
The experiment above will have given you some idea of the power of our thoughts to affect both our bodies and our feelings. Imagine the healing that can take place with the right thoughts. Yes, we can encourage self-healing, with all the cells of our bodies functioning more efficiently and producing those wonderful pain-reducing endorphins for us. With positive, strengthening thoughts we can also choose to enhance the way we feel, encouraging a more serene and uplifted spirit within ourselves.
I appreciate that we are often told to “be positive” and I understand how you may feel when hearing this remark in the face of your pain. You may have tired of being told to “be positive,” perhaps thinking, “It’s easy for ‘them’ to say because ‘they’ don’t have the pain” or “Anyone with this pain would be fed up.” This sort of negative attitude is always easy to justify by saying we are only being “realistic” about our position. However, it is not the situation itself that is causing us to think these and other negative thoughts. A situation may be a challenge, but no situation is “bad” in itself. It is our attitude toward the situation and our interpretation of it that is important. We may not be able to change the situation, but we can change the way we view it. We may not be able to wish away the pain but we can change how we feel about it.
We can learn to befriend the part of our body that is troubling us, respect it, and be patient with it. We can learn how to help it to function more efficiently by not forcing it to do what it now finds difficult. We can learn how to relax, to pace our activities, and to take advantage of all the many other wonderful ways in which we can use our own natural powers to help ourselves. We can learn how to keep our thoughts positive and supportive. We can grow to understand that we are more than our pain and have deeper parts of our being that can be content and happy despite our physical difficulties. Being positive means focusing on the positive aspects of life and on what we can do to help ourselves. Remember: positive thoughts are not a luxury--they are essential to our well-being.
THE THINKER IN YOUR MIND
Having a positive attitude does not mean that you never have unhappy, angry, fearful, or disapproving thoughts in your mind. However, your attitude to life, and to your pain, will not be in your best interests if you constantly allow unhappy thoughts to dominate in your mind. You can’t control the thoughts coming to your mind but you can choose which of those thoughts you follow. Your thoughts are not a power in charge of you; the power lies behind the thoughts with you, the real you, the thinker of the thoughts.
A Self-Help Guide for Chronic Pain and Trauma
Pain Relief without Drugs
A Self-Help Guide for Chronic Pain and Trauma
• Explains how to reduce pain’s grip on the body and mind by changing your personal reaction to pain
• Presents successful strategies from the author’s 25 years of coping with her own pain
• Includes 55-minute CD of author’s key techniques for controlling pain
In 1989, following surgery for a back injury, Jan Sadler was left in constant pain, with no hope of any further conventional treatment and no adequate prescription drug therapy. Rather than settle for a life of chronic suffering, she gave up her career teaching English and began an investigation into the self-treatment of her pain. Building on her skills as a teacher, she incorporated the pain management techniques she discovered into programs that would help other sufferers learn how to cope with pain and find truly effective relief from its debilitating effects.
Sadler shows how we can reduce pain’s grip by changing our personal reactions to the pain we are feeling. Chronic pain keeps our attention fixed firmly on our anguish, which then feeds the painful reaction back into our perception of being in pain, creating a vicious cycle. By allowing our reaction to become one of relaxation and acceptance, the pain is dramatically lessened, both by the absence of a negative perception and by the infusion of relaxation into the point of pain. In Pain Relief without Drugs, Sadler provides easy-to-use self-help techniques that offer support and understanding in breaking pain’s cycle--from relaxation, visualization, and breathing techniques to setting goals, building self-esteem, and coping with pain flare-ups. The author’s 25 years of coping with her own pain and 16 years of teaching pain management techniques result in a book that is filled with practical activities and possibilities for a better life. The book is accompanied by a 55-minute CD narrated by the author of key techniques for controlling pain.