Managing Chronic Pain

Calm Lake. Photo (c) Andrew Grant

The existence of persistent chronic pain can be hugely debilitating both physically and emotionally. Pain itself is complex and often multidimensional. Pain usually has an obvious physical cause, which can be treated by the appropriate medical professional or therapist, but it is not unusual for chronic pain to persist or return, particularly during busy or stressful periods. Many people also experience pain, internally and externally, for which no clear physical cause can be found.

All pain originates in the nervous system and it plays a vital role in allowing our brain to form avoidance strategies which help keep us safe. Many of them we learn as children, such as not sticking your hand in boiling water or naked flame. However, just as the brain retains the memory of the pain of scalds and burns, so too it can retain memories of pain where it is no longer helpful to do so. In particular the memory and belief pathway established during a bout of long term chronic pain may be so deeply entrenched that it will persist even after the physical cause has been treated. Likewise emotional or psychological problems can sometimes manifest themselves in physical pain as the mind attempts to protect us from unwanted anxiety or stress.

NLP can help by changing or remapping the beliefs that have been formed and finding alternative belief pathways that are less emotionally and physically debilitating. NLP can also help you manage chronic pain more easily on a day to day basis through visualisation and redirecting the focus of the unconscious brain.