One of the interesting things I’ve discovered about back pain over the years is that our mood affects how we experience it. And our mood is very much affected by how we see ourselves,what stance we take and how we interpret what is happening to us.
Over the 20 years or more that I had back pain I found myself going through several changes in perspective which coloured or determined my experience in both negative and positive ways and made me realise that back pain and its cure is more than just a physical problem alone.
This was my first reaction to back pain. Someone who, despite having back pain, carries on regardless, much too busy for so-called ‘minor irritations’ to get in the way. On the face of it this might seem a laudable and admirable way to go but in fact can lead to more serious complications later if you’re not careful because the early warning signals of the body i.e. pain are being ignored. The pain signals are then more likely to get ‘louder’ or worse over time. In fact I went on to develop Chronic Fatigue later where the warning signals became so ‘loud’ I could no longer deny the symptoms … and could no longer carry on ‘as usual’ with everyday life
So I became a ‘Victim’
It wasn’t a conscious decision. More like a pattern of thinking inherited from significant others in my family who lived that way. To a Victim pain means suffering helplessly. Pain is something that happens to you and over which there is no control. Swept along helplessly by the storms and vicissitudes of life which are one’s ‘lot’. What I found with this stance is that the pain felt as though it was constantly pulling me down. It was overwhelming and I became quite depressed for a while.
I began to drown in Self Pity
Why Me? I wanted people to feel sorry for me, to give me some extra loving and comfort for the pain I was going through. Tears came easily and I needed to make sure everyone understood what it was like to be in pain. All of my egocentric focus was on the pain – what it felt like, its intensity and relentlessness – and if no-one was available to listen to or rescue me or play the love-pain game I would curl up in a corner, feel abandoned and cry.
Then as time went on I found another way of responding to pain, this time as the ‘Eternal Optimist’
The power of laughter for the relief of pain is well documented worldwide and is even being used in some hospitals these days as a pain relief technique. Laughter results in a higher production of endorphins, the feel good factor in your body and helps to boost the immune system too. It is not necessary to link pain with stress and feeling miserable although most people seem to assume that they go together naturally. Laughter can really lift your spirits and help you to cope and may even dissolve the pain altogether.
Laughter and Meditation paved the way for a new perspective, the ‘Spiritual Seeker’
I began to look for the gift in the adversity and opened to acceptance and change. Pain now represented an opportunity to learn and grow. It was trying to tell me something I needed to hear. I listened quietly to my body, my back pain, to what messages might be there and discovered a feeling of being ‘unsupported’. I found out that the feeling of being unsupported often shows up in later years as back pain. It all started to make sense. My practice of inner focus and reflection brought to light an unresolved childhood memory of ‘being unsupported’. Once this issue was embraced and brought to completion through the use of creative imagination my back pain disappeared.