2004-09-24 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

by Marilyn Gelfand

Do you have any aches and pains?  Are they the kind you take for granted or the ones that get you to the edge of sanity? Pain is such an individual thing. Some people can handle great amounts of pain in their stride while others wince or get panicky at the first twinge. In our society we have many medicines that are cheaply available to help with pain. If necessary many of us may elect to have surgery to correct something that has gotten out of normal shape.  Physical pain is something that some feel is out of my own control and puts me in a prison. For others, it portends a deterioration that will be leading me to my death. Some people run to the doctor, while others do not set foot in a doctor’s office. So, even though physical pain resides in our bodies, the way we think of it increases or decreases its impact.

If you are stuck with pain, it is possible to try to compartmentalize the feeling. You can realize that I am not the pain. The pain is something I feel, and I can try to move it to my side away from me. It’s still there, but separate from me. I try to take my mind from the pain, and think of other important things. With practice, this technique can become second nature to those of us who must live with a constant ache.

If you yourself have pain, it might be helpful to write down or think about what you are thinking while aware of it. Are you scared, angry or unconcerned? Does it mean more to you than just the physical sensation? If you are building it into a major emotional issue, it probably makes sense to deal with it physically and see if something can be done. Anxiety may be relieved with the knowledge that the pain does not mean something serious. Often we know if the physical pain is a reflection of our lifestyle that may require some alteration. It may be time to cut our physical activity or our work schedule. The body may be asking for a break or a chance to unwind. It is important to pay attention to our pain and see what it could mean for both our body and spirit.

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