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I’m Trying So Hard to Get Rid of My Pain, Why Isn’t It Working?

This excerpt is taken from an episode of the "Tell Me About Your Pain" podcast. You can listen to the full episode below, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts


Many chronic pain sufferers know the heartbreak of working so hard on their recovery, but not seeing any improvement. In this episode, Alan talks to Paula who's endured chronic headaches and dizziness for two years. Paula has tried everything from medication to meditation, but nothing has worked. Alan helps Paula realize that her approach has been the opposite of what she actually needs to heal.

Then, Alan and Alon discuss the common pitfall that's kept Paula stuck and explain how pain patients can get past it to finally find relief.

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Alan: The reason why you have these symptoms in the first place is because your brain is shrouded with danger. You are constantly preoccupied with it.

What is that going to do to your level of preoccupation if every single time you eat you’re thinking about it? If every single place you go in your house you think, "Is the mold really bad here?" You're reinforcing messages of danger to your brain, and your poor primitive brain is going to be in such a state of high alert that it’s going to perpetuate these symptoms.

Paula: My therapist did tell me, “You are a very good student.” This is how I was at school. When something's wrong, I'm very solution-driven and I'm going to try to do everything in my power. So I'm not surprised that I'm doing that with this pain as well.

Alan: And that has really served us well in so many aspects of our lives. Intensity, this drive, this pressure really allowed you to be successful. But this is the one area that it’s going to actually prevent you from being successful, because the more intense you are to try to fix this problem, the more you reinforce messages of danger to your poor primitive brain.

Paula: That makes sense. So what now?

Alan: We need to teach you a new way of being. We need to teach you two words - lighten up. We need to teach you how to exist in a way where you're at ease.

So here's what's going on. Let's say you go to a casino and there’s one hand of Blackjack that you play, and you have $100,000 riding on that hand. With every card that’s flipped over, the stakes are so high. That is you with everything - the stakes are so high. Everything that you read, every new intervention that you try, every time you get a headache, every time you feel a little dizzy, the stakes are so high. And your primitive brain is in a perpetual state of high alert because the stakes are so high, because every moment of every day it's like your brain thinks that your life is in danger. It's like this super high-stakes thing.

Now imagine you're at the same casino, you're at the same Blackjack table, but now it’s just a $5 hand. It’d be nice to win, but if you lose it’s no big deal. That’s what we want to do. We want to help you lower the stakes and help you exist in a less intense, easier, lighter way.

Paula: I always say if the pain goes away, I'll be able to enjoy more.

Alan: And you know what the irony is? Right is when you're able to enjoy things more, that's when the pain is going to go away.

[this is an excerpt only - for the full episode, listen to the podcast above]

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