When patients come to see me about their problems with chronic pain, the very first thing I ask them to do is begin writing. Their assignment is to write once a day (more often if they want) and to focus on their negative thoughts.
Once these negative thoughts are set down, preferably on paper, I instruct them to instantly destroy what they've written.
If this sounds silly or pointless (I promise, it isn’t) and the act isn't merely symbolic, either. Nothing meaningful will occur until you engage in exactly this way. Don’t think about it, don’t question it. Just do it. You'll come to see how valuable it is later.
This process is essential to healing your chronic pain, and you'll begin to get better the day you begin to write. Even if you don't want to own your thoughts, write them down. Then rip up, crumple, trash or burn the document.
OK. But what does this have to do with pain?
This is not so you can “get rid of the thoughts” but rather because doing this will allow you to write with freedom. The nervous system is extremely complex. A small percentage of connections in the brain are going to result in thoughts that are bizarre, crazy, despicable, unspeakable, and simply unacceptable at every level.
The more you try to suppress your dark thoughts, the stronger they will become. Writing them down and then destroying them acknowledges them and allows you to separate from them.
The program I created, an alternative to spine surgery, treats pain neurologically, not psychologically. We working with the central nervous system aspect of pain. Traditional psychology may have its place in your healing and well-being, but it won't help you out of your pain.
I truly believe that when you talk about your pain, you're just reinforcing the pathways — when you do that, nothing will change.
Just Thoughts …
A thought is only a series of connections between neurons within your brain. There is no substance to it. None. The fact that your body may secrete chemicals (like cortisol and adrenaline, hormones associated with stress) in response to a thought makes it seem real, as though it is part of your identity but it's not. That's why your goal is to bring this thought to life as vividly as possible, so you can then process it and detach from it.
When you write, three things happen: