How to Reframe Your Pain
In the same way that putting a different frame around a picture changes how the picture looks, putting a different attitude around your pain changes your perspective of it
So if you suffer from persistent pain, how will this help you and how do you do it?
Persistent pain grabs our attention and leads to us feeling helpless, stressed, and despairing; it makes us feel we have no control and turns us into a victim. All this serves to drive the cycle of pain by creating a negative emotional overlay on top of the physical pain. Re-framing changes your perspective so you can think outside the box. Using your imagination and creativity you can break the negative cycle of helpless and stressed thoughts, regaining your power and control. This is self hypnosis reframing pain.
How can you think about pain in a different way?
Perhaps there is something you can learn from it. Perhaps you need to be kinder, more compassionate to yourself (and/or others). Maybe it’s telling you to be more patient, more empathetic. Is it a message to take better care of yourself? To slow down? To accept support? Perhaps it’s time to appreciate the little things in life more. Do you need to control your anger? Or be more flexible in your approach to life? Is it time to forgive yourself (and/or others)?
I’d always been a bit of a worrier. But the pain I’ve experienced has taught me to live in the present; not to look back and regret what might have been or worry about the future. Instead it has taught me to be present to each day & each moment as it comes; finding little things (or even big things) to be grateful for instead of regretting what I no longer have. People in general tend to be resistant to change, particularly when it’s unexpected, and I’ve certainly been no exception to that! However pain, and the associated loss and changes it’s wrought on my life has led me to be more flexible and accepting of what comes my way. It’s also taught me to be kinder to myself; more forgiving. It’s not always easy; it’s an ongoing journey where I need to be mindful of my thoughts each day.
When you re-frame (change your attitude) you shift your perspective from being trapped and helpless to being in control and having choices. Although the actual facts of the situation may remain the same, the way you look at it changes. You remove the negative emotional overlay and reduce the level of suffering you experience.
Re-framing is a process of gradually re-training your mind in how to think about pain. Below is a self-hypnosis guide which may help you with this re-framing process. A metaphor of a wall is used to represent our usual way of thinking about pain. When we realise that there is actually another way to get past the wall, as opposed to either attempting to push it down or climb over it in vain, then we can easily reach our destination. This hypnosis session emphasises that there are alternatives available.
Read through each step below before beginning…
- Find a quiet place where you’re not going to be disturbed and sit in a comfortable, relaxed posture with your arms and legs uncrossed. Take yourself into hypnosis and relaxation using a hypnotic induction of your choice, or one I’ve written about previously.
- Imagine walking along a pathway in a natural environment, such as a wood or in the countryside. Take some time to create this scene in your mind – notice what you can see – the grass, trees, flowers, sky etc. notice the different colours, sunlight, shades and so on. Notice what you can hear – perhaps the sound of birds singing, the sound of your footsteps on the path. Notice what you can feel – the warmth of sun on your skin, perhaps a gentle breeze. Notice the temperature, the weather and any smells associated with this experience. Say to yourself that every step along this path is taking you deeper inside your mind, relaxing you more and more.
- In the distance you can see a beautiful lake – notice its size and shape – how peaceful, serene and relaxing it appears to be. You really want to reach this lake, however there is something blocking your path … a large wall.
- As you walk closer to the wall you can see how high and how solid it is … notice what it’s made of, how it’s constructed. You really want to reach the lake, so imagine trying to get past the wall. Imagine trying to climb over it, but it’s too high and there are no footholds. Imagine trying to push it down, but it’s too solid. Imagine trying to tear it down with your hands; your efforts become more and more frantic and desperate, as you try again and again, failing each time.
- Finally, you notice a small path, that you hadn’t seen before, running alongside the wall. As you follow the path it finally leads to a small gate through the wall. To your delight the gate is unlocked; you easily open it and walk through to the other side of the wall. Imagine finding yourself in a beautiful flower meadow which leads down to the edge of the relaxing lake. As you sit down to rest and relax in this peaceful place by the lakeside allow any realisations to float into your mind from this experience.
- Say to yourself that as a result of this hypnosis session today you continue to find alternative ways of looking at your pain; you feel more in control of your life and your discomfort, with many choices available to you. Also say to yourself that as a result of this hypnosis session today you feel more relaxed and more comfortable.
- Finally take a few deep breaths, count from 1 to 5, open your eyes and slowly re-orient yourself to your surroundings.
When you’ve finished your hypnosis session write down what you’ve learned. How does this change things for you? Continue to be aware of alternative ways of looking at pain over the coming days and weeks. I hope you find this process helpful in using self hypnosis re-framing pain. If you have any questions at all please feel free to ask and let me know how you get on below.