One of the most recommended ways to manage pain is to change how much attention you give to it.
Paying attention to pain, amplifies the pain and increases the tendency for negative thinking.
Just like a kid screaming for candy at the store. If you always buy the child candy (in this case, pain) when they scream, they’ll continue to scream each time you take them to the store until they get candy.
Five ways to reduce your focus on chronic pain
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Look at the photo below. What do you see?
Now change your focus. Do you see something different than before?
Just like this exercise, we can change our thoughts about pain and our reactions to it by changing how we look at it - by changing our focus.
Find more articles about changing how we think about pain.
Catastrophizing in an exaggerated negative response toward actual or anticipated pain.
Catastrophizing jumps to the worst‐case scenario. It quickly becomes gloom and doom, breeding more negativity. You become fearful of the pain. You worry about all the bad things that might happen because of the pain. You’re more likely to choose negative thinking over positive thinking. And you can feel helpless to manage the pain.
Catastrophizing has been linked to higher levels of perceived pain, interference with daily activities, increased healthcare utilization, disability, depression, and changes in social support networks.
This video helps explain catastrophizing and provides helpful tips to stop doing it.
Changing how you think about pain can change how you feel.
Negative thinking increases focus on the pain, reinforces it, and can actually make the pain feel worse. All while zapping needed energy supply.
Get replacement thought examples here
P.S. A BIG thank you to all the members of the Chronic Pain Champions Facebook support group who helped contribute to these examples!
When pain doesn’t get better and becomes chronic, it’s easy for the pain to become the focus of our lives and we can become paingry.
Control anger before it controls you. Tips from the American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.
Chronic Pain Champions is an information resource/blog/support group to help chronic pain patients, their families, and friends, as well as healthcare professionals. Learn more about this site and the author.
Chronic Pain Champions