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Pathways of Chronic Pain

July 18, 2013

“Why am I doing this again?” I ask Justin at this our fourth and final session. He’s the fitness director at my gym and as part of my joining I received four sessions with a personal trainer. A mix up at my first session and Justin became my personal trainer. The Universe conspires though because he suffers with chronic pain from a car accident two years ago – but that’s another story.

 

He reminds me, again, “Your core muscles are weak and they help to stabilize you as you move through the day. They will also help improve your posture and take undue pressure off your neck and shoulder muscles.”

 

“Oh yeah,” I mumble trying to lift the weight and my foot at the same time and feeling like neither action is going all that well!

 

No matter what the subject or action, no matter who you are, when you learn something new it feels like mud – sticky and hard to get through. The best description I’ve ever heard was to think of the wiring of the brain as bushy undergrowth. The first time you learned something it was hard to get through, lots of undergrowth to chop down. The more you travelled the path the easier it became.

 

When you live in chronic pain it can be so much easier to sit back and do nothing. In the moment you may actually think it’s the best thing but in the long run you lose. You lose mobility, interest in life, friends, and hope. And I’m not just talking about exercise and using the body either. The mental muscles dull without use too. If you are not actively using and improving your thinking skills you set yourself up for boredom which can lead to poor eating, watching too much television, negative feelings or hopelessness.

 

Even if your mobility is limited there are so many creative ways to keep learning, starting with the internet. <a href="https://www.coursera.org" target="_blank">Coursera.org</a> offers numerous online courses that are free, from mathematics to songwriting. Reading expands your world, writing shares it. With better mobility you can widen your horizon – take pictures for example, perhaps in your neighborhood of the people, the flowers, or whatever is of interest to you.

 

What I’d like to do is encourage you to get active – mentally and physically – because when you do your emotional and spiritual centers will benefit. You will feel more connected, happier, have better self-esteem and that will lead to improved health. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1442339683/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=1442339683&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=beingabund06-20">Zig Ziglar</a> tells the story of a woman who had suffered from severe depression for many years. One day she saw an ad for a health club and joined. Over the next five years not only did her overall health improve but she also became more active in other areas of life. She changed jobs and eventually became a high-ranking executive at a large firm. It didn't happen overnight, it took consistent action, but her life improved when she stopped sitting back and doing nothing. Yours can too.

 

If you are feeling discouraged because you have tried numerous ways of getting or feeling better but nothing has worked I’d like to ask you to keep trying. You probably know the expression that says something to the effect of overnight success taking fifteen years. Maybe you know how Malcolm Gladwell in his book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0316017930/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=0316017930&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=beingabund06-20"><em>Outliers: The Story of Success</em></a> suggests what really made the Beatles great.

<blockquote>“The Beatles had a musical gift, but what made them the Beatles was a random invitation to play in Hamburg… where they performed live as much as five hours a night, seven days a week. Talented? Absolutely,” he says. “But they also simply put in more hours than anyone else.”</blockquote>

Learning how to manage and live with chronic pain is not an easy task. It takes time and effort. Remember for every treatment, medication, or exercise you have tried that has not worked you have eliminated one you don’t need to try again. And in the process you have been walking the pathways of the brain keeping them active, alive, and energized.

 

What can you do today, small or large, to get active? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or send me a message on Facebook.

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