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Unraveling the Knot: The Four Apocalyptic Horsemen of Chronic Pain

Headache & Stress

Living with chronic pain poses a sometimes great challenge, disrupting our accustomed lives and challenging the attitudes and habits that once guided us. Back pain restricts movement, headaches shatter concentration, and fibromyalgia introduces morning stiffness, making the simplest tasks a struggle. Yet, amidst this chaos, our minds sometimes fail to fully grasp the impact. How does our inner disposition play a role?

a ballerina a a symbol of perfectionism

My mother was a dancer, a ballerina to be precise – a spectacle of grace in motion. However, few professions rival the ambition found in ballet. It's a relentless pursuit of perfection – one more turn, a leg a bit higher, a transition more elegant. The mantra: satisfaction is defeat.

Inherited from our upbringing, this mindset lingers, whispering that our self-worth hinges on achievement. No one desires to appear foolish or inferior, so we push ourselves relentlessly. However, with chronic pain, this becomes a curse. We overextend, ignoring limits, as a patient once said, "If you don't rest in time, your body forces it upon you – and trust me, you don't want that!"

Let's delve into the four apocalyptic horsemen of chronic pain:

1. Excessive self-demands:

It's a familiar scenario – the pressure to excel. Our culture perpetuates this, linking self-worth to accomplishment. Even with chronic pain, our minds insist on reaching higher standards.

2. Perfectionism:

   A natural extension of self-demands, perfectionism propels us into uncomfortable situations. The question lingers – when is it ever enough? The pursuit of perfection intertwines with stress and pain, as keen followers of my content already know.

3. Seeking approval from others:

   A devious horseman, steering us to conform for fear of social alienation. The secret is that it keeps us from being authentic, preventing us from embracing what truly matters to us. Often, we end up neglecting ourselves in the process.

4. Inability to say "No":

   This horseman aligns with seeking approval from others. Difficulty in setting clear boundaries is a common challenge. Saying "No" triggers uncertainties – will others understand? What will be their reaction? Fearful of conflict, we opt for the safety of saying "Yes."

Stuck in the pressure cooker, the problem exacerbates pain because:

1. Neglecting personal needs and those of our bodies.

2. Expending excessive energy, leaving us exhausted.

3. Constantly under pressure, activating brain centers associated with anxiety and stress, intensifying pain.

How to navigate though habits fueling chronic pain?

Using the breath to hold still and notice - being mindful

Recognize when you're following these horsemen. Pause, breathe deeply – shift to neutral. Consider alternatives and choose how to proceed. Breaking free from automatic reactions is the key.

Remember, ingrained habits won't vanish overnight – nor should they. The goal is self-awareness and occasional deviation from automatic responses. Sometimes, that's all it takes – but it requires practice!

Share your experience with me – leave a comment or send a quick email. Feel free to share this with others who might find it useful.

Get your first free and easy to apply exercise where you can learn how to shift to neutral, relax and push the pause button by clicking on the field below:

Looking forward to taking a step into life with you,


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