If you read Part 1 of the Pain Perspective, we left off in a state of depression and more pain. BUT, there was hope and a lot of work to do. I was given instructions to do physical therapy for 30 minutes at least 2 times per day, 3 times was ideal. I was told to wear a very uncomfortable mouth splint as much as possible. I was depressed, had zero energy, and a long list of things that I needed to get done for the home and job as well as all this self care.
Every morning was a struggle. I had to motivate myself to get out of bed and do these exercises that were really painful. Not an easy thing when I was already in pain, and the movements where going to make it worse. Uphill battle would be an understatement. I knew no one was going to do it for me, and no one really could.
My interest in personal development served me well in my road to recovery from TMJ chronic pain. I was given the book; Why We Decide, it speaks about the prefrontal cortex of the brain. That is where I felt the most of my pain, from the book I found that it is also the area of the brain that makes decisions. It showed science studies with people having brain damage/trauma and how it completely changed their personalities. It really helped on those days that I would have a bad migraine and I couldn’t choose what I wanted to eat, wear, or do. This understanding gave me some comfort. It is widely accepted that we only use a small capacity of our brain; they are extremely powerful and can do amazing things when properly trained. So I dedicated myself to retrain my brain for the better.
The basic principal of hypnosis is planting an idea in the mind and focusing on it. It was helpful to learn techniques to train my own mind to make my body feel a certain way. When I was nauseous with pain, I could focus my brain on being somewhere outside my body and away from all the pain. I got a chance to practice this when I broke my ankle at summer camp when I was eight years old. I had broken the growth bone, so they had to put a cast on my entire leg along with a HUGE screw in my ankle. It was painful and itchy.
I was young, so they skipped the heavy pain killers(thank Heavens!). They gave me an anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling, but did nothing for the pain. I remember lying on the couch with tears rolling down my cheeks because the pain was so intense. The plaster cast felt like it was lined with wool sweaters, the itchy kind. If I did not pass out from the pain, I was sure I was going to go crazy from the itchy feeling that I could not satisfy inside the cast. It was that summer on the couch that I started learning how to control my mind. I would visualize myself itching my ankle. I would stare at the area that itched and would think about the blood going to that spot and taking away the itch feeling. Sometimes it took me a while to stop the itch, but as long as I persisted, the itch would fade away.
“Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
What we think, we become…” -Margaret Thatcher
Thatcher sums it up pretty well. Have you ever read The Secret? Or heard about the law of attraction? Simply put, what you think and feel is attracted to you. It doesn’t understand positive and negative thought, only the thought. All day and night my mind was focused on pain. Wanting pain to stop only brings more pain. If that’s all you focus on, that’s all you will find. I am not saying that just by having a positive attitude about pain will make it go away, but you will enjoy your life a heck of a lot more. You might even forget about the pain because of how much fun you are having.
It is amazing what happens when you change your intentions. There was a study in Madison, WI in 2011 asking, “does the perception that stress affects health matter?” The study concluded people that thought stress was bad for their health had a 43% higher chance of dying than people who thought stress was a non-factor in their health. Funny enough, if you look at the study and do the math for the United States population, it is the 17th highest reason for death. *
*Health Psychology © 2011 American Psychological Association 2012, Vol. 31, No. 5, Does the Perception That Stress Affects Health Matter? University of Wisconsin – Madison
How does that happen? Stress is part of the reptilian brain, the fight or flight reactions. When we are scared or stressed, the body prepares to do whatever it has to do to survive. Heart rate goes up to give the brain and muscles the oxygen they need. If all that energy is not directed in the proper way it can have adverse affects on the body.
In 2014, the Washington Post published a survey of America’s top fears, number one was public speaking. Speaking in public is pretty safe. In the history of the United States, only two presidents died giving a speech. If you have a fear of speaking the intention is you are too nervous, too shaky, too scared, too nauseous, or anything else that might be negative. So guess what? The body responds exactly as projected.
Try setting an intention that the body has just prepared itself for an enjoyable experience. With practice, you can notice that excitement and exhilaration will replace the nervousness for the opportunity to speak.
I know this to be true, because that is exactly how I think and feel about speaking and performing music. People ask me all the time, “Don’t you get nervous?” I happily reply with no, I get really excited. I still get butterflies in my stomach, my body is in stress mode, but I direct the energy into something good that lifts my spirits. My body loving responses to my excitement intention, all it takes is looking at a fear and stress in a different way.
Daily affirmations can retrain the brain to look at situations and feelings differently. I started my mornings with it. Looking in the mirror as I got ready, it felt more real if I could see myself saying them out loud. I did feel silly at first, and a little unworthy. I would tell myself that I was happy, healthy, and wealthy; even though I knew that at the moment I did not have those things. Over time something strange started happening. I started to believe what I was saying.
I would say my affirmation multiple times per day, because every minute can be a battle with TMJ. No matter how many hours I slept, I would wake up exhausted. Still, I had to drag myself out of bed and exercise through the pain and fatigue. The affirmations gave me the mental strength to fight through the pain.
Written goals helped motivate me to keep up the daily practice. I asked myself these questions. What do you want to be able to do again when you are pain free? What do you want to buy for yourself as a treat for doing your daily routine? If you are going to try this make it something that burns inside of you, makes you smile just thinking about it.
An effective affirmation is one that you truly believe. It has to be attainable, otherwise they are just words. You also have to believe in yourself, know that you have the power to heal yourself. Because we are MAGICAL AF!
Affirmation Tip #1
Say what you want in a positive way. Saying, “I live a happy and healthy life” focuses on what you want to attract into your life unlike, “I live a pain free life.” If the focus is still on pain, the brain does not understand the negatives just the focus.
Affirmation Tip #2
Speak as if you have it now. If you talk about it in the future, your brain will still be waiting for the future. If you continually tell your brain that you have a happy and healthy life now, it will start believing that you have it now.
Instead of saying ,“I want to live a happy and healthy life.”
Just say, “I live a happy healthy life.”
Affirmation Tip #3
Recite your affirmation in front of a mirror looking into your eyes, multiple times. Looking into your own eyes while speaking affirmations is like making a promise to yourself. It helps cement that belief. Saying it multiple times will help create that habit in your brain.
Affirmation Tip #4
Smile. It is good exercise for your face. If you hold one for more than 30 seconds you will notice that you actually feel happier.
Develop whatever affirmation works for you. This was my first affirmation:
“I am happy, healthy, wealthy, and full of positive energy.”
As you grow and learn what else you want to attract into your life add it to your affirmation. Mine started very simple and short and then I would hear a poem or someone would tell me something or it would just come through me.
“Deep at the center of my being is an infinite well of love. I now allow this love to flow to the surface. Filling my heart, my mind, my body, my consciousness, my very being as it radiates out from me in all directions and is returned to me multiplied. The more love I use and give, the more I have to give. The supply is endless and the use of this love makes me feel good. Because of my use of love. I love and approved of myself, who I was, am, and will be. Because of this I am a money and love magnet, money and love comes to me now in expected and unexpected ways faster than I can ever imagine because I live in effortless abundance. Because of this I am fully aligned with the direct path to the greatest good. Putting me in the right place, right time, with the right people because I am open and ready for life’s opportunities, I have the clarity to see them and the courage to pursue them. I know and trust all of this to be true because I am the beloved and protected creator of this universe and the universe lovingly takes care of me now and forevermore. So I surrender to the god source within as I allow it to guide me in expressing truth. And so it is. It is done.”
The results will not always be as timely as you would like. There will be frustrating days where it seems hopeless and pointless, but those are the days affirmation practice is needed the most. Be dedicated and disciplined in your affirmation practice; it will give you the strength necessary to not only survive, but to thrive in life.