Image by Gerd Altmann
Life is short, and it's up to you to make it sweet.
-- Sadie Delany
All of us who have chronic pain in a major way know that it tends to change our personality. Over time, the continued struggle with pain tends to zap your energy and strength. Life is harder and more stressful when persistent pain is a central part of it. The hurt of days spent in pain adds up and collects its toll by persistently eroding your resilience and hardiness. This is the reality of the chronic pain experience.
For many of us, at times it feels as if managing pain is a full-time job. The relentless interference of pain can lead to remarkable levels of distress and disability in one's social and occupational functioning. Unfortunately, these changes also affect one's outlook on life and one's personality functioning. Such is the reality of the chronic pain experience.
Fortunately, now there are things you can do to cope better and improve your quality of life.
Acceptance and Change
To accept means to concede to, agree to, tolerate, endure, allow, receive, or even welcome and embrace as opposed to reject, refuse, renounce, or deny. To change means to alter, modify, convert, transform, correct, shift, or vary. Coping with chronic pain effectively, which means as comfortably as possible, necessitates finding a functional balance between these two opposite forces.
The roadmap or outline I shall provide is called AWARE. To be aware need not mean being obsessed or preoccupied with negatives. Healthy awareness is a necessary precondition to changing something. You need to know (become aware of) what needs to be changed in order to develop a strategy for changing it. So goes the old adage, "If you don't know where you want to go, how are you going to get there?"
Awareness also goes along with the idea of acceptance. It's clear to me that when you have chronic pain due to a permanent physical injury, impairment, or disease, the best philosophical course to follow is one of acceptance. You need not like that you have it, but if you don't accept it and accept yourself even though you have it, how can you take constructive action? Constructive action and effective coping depend on acknowledging what is, even if you don't like it. However, if you can find a way to embrace and love your pain adversary at an appropriate level, you will find that it's easier to cope with it and be happy. Either way, you need to accept and love yourself.
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Gerald Jampolsky, M.D., a psychiatrist and originator of an approach to self-healing called "attitudinal healing", has coined the phrase that "love is letting go of fear". I think that this is definitely true when it comes to coping with chronic pain. Equipped with self-hypnosis tools, you are more capable of letting go of the paralyzing fear that can make pain worse and of having a healthier relationship with your pain.
Please understand that awareness, acceptance, and loving do not mean not changing. On the contrary, rejecting and refusing to acknowledge and accept reality, or denial, is what can block you from initiating and continuing the process of genuine and healthy change.
Linehan (1993) has wisely pointed out that the key to effective therapy for facilitating change with regard to chronic problems is balancing actively striving for change (a traditionally Western European and American philosophy and approach) and inwardly searching for acceptance (a traditionally Eastern and Asian philosophy). So...
The acronym "AWARE" stands for Accept the pain, Watch your experience, Act functionally, Remove yourself from pain, and Expect the best.
The AWARE self-suggestions are:
I Accept the Pain
1. I understand the puzzle of pain.
2. I no longer need to continue to fight all the time.
3. The pain is becoming less important.
4. I compare my qualities and behaviors only to those of myself.
5. I forgive myself and no longer need to keep punishing myself.
I Watch the Pattern of the Pain
1. I notice what's working in my life.
2. I evaluate my pain, my life, and my coping strategies.
3. I notice where, when, and how I feel comfortable.
4. I use self-hypnosis to solve my inner conflicts about my pain.
5. "Hurt" does not necessarily mean "harm".
6. I separate "necessary" from "unnecessary" pain.
I Act Functionally Despite Having Pain
1. I optimize the control I have in managing my discomfort.
2. I motivate myself by doing things I am interested in and enjoy.
3. I evaluate my priorities and schedule my time.
4. I use pain coping skills.
5. I direct my own behavior and take charge.
6. I direct myself to experience pleasure.
7. I interrupt dysfunctional feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
8. I balance accepting and watching my experience with distancing or dissociating myself from unnecessary pain.
9. I identify with positive role models.
10. I increase my rest time without feeling guilty if I get a flare-up.
11. I negotiate support from others and ask for help when I need it.
I Remove Myself from Unnecessary Pain
1. I do my self-relaxation and self-hypnosis regularly.
2. I avoid stressful situations and don't let myself become too stressed.
3. I distract myself from discomfort.
4. I employ my attention flexibly.
5. I use my most engaging and absorbing sensory memory systems.
6. I regularly make deposits in and withdrawals from my positive memory bank.
7. I control unnecessary pain by distorting and transforming it.
8. When it's appropriate, I disconnect and detach myself from unnecessary pain.
9. I direct unnecessary pain to go away.
I Expect the Best
1. I am open to choices and opportunities for improving the quality of my life.
2. I remain optimistic, flexible, and open to change.
3. I build motivation by finding good reasons to change.
4. I reframe dysfunctional beliefs.
5. I dispute negative, irrational, and dysfunctional thoughts.
6. I help myself into a positive frame of mind with self-hypnosis.
7. I use positive self-suggestion and coping self-statements.
All of these self-suggestions are part of your new "hypnotize yourself out of pain now" program. They can be employed in the waking state and before entering self-hypnosis to continue the process of positive self-change on an unconscious level. When you employ these self-suggestions in the waking state, they serve as positive affirmations and help you direct your own behavior and experience.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, California.
Hypnotize Yourself Out of Pain Now: A Powerful User-friendly Program for Anyone Searching for Immediate Pain Relief
by Bruce N. Eimer.
This is a straightforward, compassionate, and user-friendly guide for anyone who seeks pain relief. Hypnotize Yourself Out of Pain Now! offers a range of hypnotic approaches in order to meet the range of challenges faced by pain sufferers. Also included is a complimentary CD that contains guided imagery and relaxation exercises, therapeutic touch and energy healing techniques, stress control strategies, as well as a host of other helpful materials.
Info/Order this book (different cover, 2nd edition).
About the Author
Bruce Eimer, PHD, ABPP, CHT, has been a practicing clinician for nearly 30 years. He has worked in outpatient and inpatient settings, as a clinician and clinical supervisor. He is a licensed clinical psychologist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and he is a Board Certified Diplomate with the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) in Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology and CBT. Dr. Eimer is a Fellow with the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and a life member of the American Psychological Association (APA). He is a Certified Master Hypnotherapy Instructor with the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA). He also earned his Diplomate in Pain Management with the American Academy of Pain Management. He has been practicing as a licensed clinical psychologist since 1986. For more info, visit https://tamingpain.com/