How does pain affect relationships?

Chronic painful conditions are uncomfortable episodes that last beyond an expected period of illness or injury. A person experiences faulty signals via the central nervous system that can last days, weeks, or months past an initial injury. Chronic painful conditions lead to a chronic stress reaction that increases both blood pressure and heart rate. This stressful reaction leads to harmful health effects, such as the reduced ability to fight off illness and infection. It can also increase the risk of development of certain conditions such as heart disease. Physical effects include:

  • Tense muscles
  • Inability to move about freely
  • Lack of energy
  • Changes in appetite

Emotional effects include:

  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of re-occurrence

Over one in five people suffers from chronic pain that interferes with quality of life, and the burden of this discomfort has long reaching implications. Although a number of drugs on the market can provide temporary relief, the side-effects, issues with tolerance, and rising rates of addiction are forcing scientists and doctors alike to look for alternatives to pain management.

 How the brain thinks during chronic painful conditions

 An instance of acute trauma can actually alter perception and anticipation of future discomfort; this psychosomatic thought process acts as self fulfilling prophecy as person grow to believe that this is the state they must live in. Emotional response, mood, and thinking are all affected as the patient struggles to either come to terms with their reality or seeks comfort and freedom from the condition. This challenge for developing management alternatives has led scientists to begin studying the brain and its role in processing pain for additional answers. What they are uncovering is a clear link to two areas of the brain that process this type of information—their thalamus and the prefrontal cortex. 

Thalamus

 The thalamus sits at the base of the brain and acts as a gateway between it and the spinal cord. Upon the onset of an injury or an occurrence of acute pain, this gateway remains open as the body attempts to process information and receive answers about healing and treatment in the most efficient way possible. If acute conditions become chronic, it is observed that this gateway remains open and makes the entire body and nervous system hypersensitive to stimulation, thereby exacerbating the problem.

 How the prefrontal cortex and mood are affected

 In people experiencing chronic conditions, the prefrontal cortex actually decreases in volume and its ability to function. This is the region of the brain that regulates mood and emotion—in its normal state, it regulates emotional responses appropriately, allows for personality expression and gives cues with regard to what expected social norms are. When chronic painful conditions are present, mood swings can cause issues in both personal and professional life. Due to ongoing discomfort, every emotion and cognition are greatly amplified. People with ongoing pain experience more fear and worry than those who are considered “healthy”, and the prefrontal cortex does not have the capacity to subdue these feelings and regulate mood. It is not uncommon for those who experience chronic painful conditions to entertain suicidal thoughts; between unpredictable mood swings, a hypersensitive central nervous system, and lack of validation from family and friends who cannot “see” their condition, it can sometimes be too much to bear. Because of ongoing trauma in the brain, the way that cells communicate with each other actually becomes damaged. Using a process of “re-writing” and neuro feedback, scientists are now working to change the way that cells talk to each other and rewrite painful memories. 

Perception influences pain

 Just as the brain becomes damaged through the experience of chronic painful conditions, it can also be reconditioned to perceive the experience of discomfort relatively easily, given the right stimuli. Quite often, people with chronic conditions have a faulty perception of both the size of their body parts and their perception of touch, indicating that there is a disconnect with location-specific information processing. There are now a series of clinical trials being done using virtual reality tools and verbal feedback from doctors that changes the way patients perceive their experience. Repeated conditioning and positive feedback have changed sensory perception and thus, the patient’s perception of their own body and of their condition. Treatments have now taken on a multi-sensory nature, and it is being proven quite effective at reducing and, in some cases, eliminating the experience of chronic pain altogether.

 How to talk about chronic painful conditions

 Quite often, those who experience chronic painful conditions share their discomfort with those around them. Partners who offer expressions of support and assistance will find that these behaviours will increase, while those who do not give support to this behavior will find that the relationship suffers when the affected person refuses to share their experience with them. Mood swings may grow increasingly more erratic and unpredictable, doing damage to the relationship. While it is important to know when a partner is experiencing discomfort, finding other things to discuss and other things to focus on will help to diffuse some of the potential for unhealthy behaviours to develop. 

The light at the end of the tunnel

 With innovative technologies, new information about nutrition, and groundbreaking studies being done on the effect of chronic painful conditions on the brain, we now have the tools and knowledge to provide relief, if not remission, for millions of people. 

Invest in yourself, invest in your wellness, and seek support that brings you to that better place. Here’s to your best health!

If You’re A Healer You Don’t Have To Go Hungry!

guy biting whole pumpkin in a field

If you are in the business of practicing alternative healing, you may find yourself struggling with a common problem. You feel guilty about charging high fees, you constantly undercut your prices then feel you have undersold yourself, and you feel compelled to offer free services but then find yourself being used and drained by toxic people and chronic takers. 

Why Healers Find It Hard To Value Themselves

Money is an exchange of energy. In the past, a healer would be compensated through bartering. This means that whatever the individual has is potential compensation for your services. If they are a baker, they may offer you bread. If they raise chickens, they may give you eggs. But whatever it is, they will provide an exchange of their time and efforts for your time and efforts.

In our modern world, money has replaced that system. For better or worse, we now exchange our time and energy for money and then exchange our money for another person’s time and energy. This simple concept has seen some corruption where people start to blame money itself as being “the root of all evil.”

This is a powerful psychological factor for many people that prevents them from asking for more money and makes them feel guilty if they have too much. But at its core, money is an exchange of energy. Asking for money is equivalent to saying your time and energy are valuable to others.

Asking For Fair Payment Is A Form Of Self-Respect

If you have decided to become a healer, it is probably because you have realized you can change people lives for the better with your gifts. This is a service that is very valuable. If you are struggling and feel under valued, you may be undercutting your prices or frequently offering them for free. That is sending the message that you do not think they are worth that much.

When you have care taking and nurturing personality type, you may feel compelled to help others who need it. This can be a noble pursuit and is the foundation of charity work but tends to be under valued in the business world. But you need to ask yourself if you want your work to be a charity or a business. Depending on the answer, you need to take a very different direction.

Small Business Owners Struggles

Small business owners have no shortage of struggles. If your healing business is your source of income and livelihood, then you need to make sure you have the appropriate funds to keep sustaining yourself and your time is not under valued. If you decide to work with people who know how much your services are worth, then you are going to be choosing a path that helps you thrive as a human being and as a healer.

Many small business owners who are in the healing business may struggle with embracing the technical side of their business. Your own marketing plan and sales process may be under valued. This can be a difficult transition and may feel counter intuitive to your usual perspectives as a healer or energy worker. But if you can learn to embrace the requirements of owning a business and re-frame your perspectives on competitiveness, payment, and marketing, then you can create a business that is in harmony with your practice.

Goats butting heads.

Competitiveness

Competition is a powerful want to improve yourself. Looking at your successful competitors can help generate inspiration and show you what you can do to improve your business. Often in the business world, harsh and abrasive language is used. Things like “crushing the competition” create the idea that competing has to be negative and warlike. This can easily turn off most healers to the idea of embracing competitiveness.

A better way for struggling small business owners to view competition is as the runner beside you who makes you go faster. Look at how much effort they are putting in, the skills they’ve developed, and use that to improve yourself. This can be powerful to keep you moving forward with your business.

You can also make yourself stand out from the competition by consistently increasing and expanding your skill set. You can use the revenue to reinvest in your business and in your self. This can pay off by setting you apart and helping you to create your own unique approaches. Use your time to refine your mission and continue to increase your ability to express that statement.

Consistently Promote Yourself

Small business owners must promote themselves if they want to find success through their business. If you are struggling financially, you will find yourself struggling to be fully present in your business. This may translate to feeling under valued, having more unhappy moods, worrying excessively, and having higher levels of stress.

There are many easy ways to promote yourself that are under valued. The main aspect of marketing and advertising is so that you can build an audience who can benefit from your services. One awesome way is through sending out emails that provide valuable information or offering a “freebie” digital product in exchange for joining your mailing list. This means people who need your help are beginning to get the help that they need while increasing your number of potential clients.

The Take-Away

Never use work that is helping others as an excuse to neglect your own need for financial compensation. The path of running a charity is worlds away from the necessary steps small business owners must take if they are struggling. If you feel under valued, treating yourself fairly is an important part of self-care for struggling small business owners. 

Instead, find ways to provide helpful resources for free that can also serve the purpose of marketing. Then reserve your most time-consuming work that you pour your heart into for customers who know how valuable you are. You will find yourself being happier, more satisfied with your work, and less burnt out.

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