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How to deal with pain

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Neck, back or shoulder complaints that keep on nagging. A bloated stomach, deep fatigue and stabbing headaches that keep coming back. Vague complaints, which cannot always be explained from a medical point of view. Somewhere deep down we actually know it, but often it’s like: ‘don’t bullshit but brush’ or ‘ignore, it will pass’ and off you go. Sometimes we take medicine. Does that help? Is that resolved?

unhealthy pain

Pain comes in different shapes and sizes. We all know what pain is. Pain from a wound, pain from knocks or falls. Everyone has to deal with it, everyone knows it. Pain that can be severe but goes away on its own. It is different with the complaints that just don’t seem to go away. That’s what I call unhealthy pain. Why are we massively ignoring those kinds of pain signals from our bodies? In fact, sometimes we are not even aware of it.

The world around us is moving fast and we are moving with it. So we no longer listen, we no longer stand still. But it only happens when we stop for a moment; our attention goes inward and we begin to feel. That is exactly where the key lies; listen to your body. How do you do that? That can be done in 1001 ways. I know where it all starts: with awareness. And awareness starts again with your body.

What is Body Awareness?

As a baby you are completely one with your body. That’s all there is. Point. And you pick up all the signals from your body to make your needs visible; hunger, thirst, wet diaper on your buttocks, sleep. All reasons to make yourself heard. Your body awareness is great. 

But then we grow up and the world with all its stimuli and impulses around us becomes bigger and bigger. You are going to divide your attention; from just to what is happening inside you to what is happening around you and what your environment is like. You will respond to that.

You want to know if it’s safe, if you’re doing it right, if you can be there. You adapt, you socialize and in fact we learn to suppress or ignore the signals from our body. Because we are no longer one with our bodies. There is nothing wrong with learning how to survive in our society; it is even necessary. 

The only drawback can be that in the course of your life you lose contact with your body to such an extent that you no longer recognize the signals it gives. In particular, the more subtle signals no longer come through.

No life without a body

So body awareness is about your physical body. You need your body to live; without your body no life. It’s that simple. So you have to deal with it. It needs sleep, food and care. When you look at it that way, your body seems above all a burden. But if you can listen carefully to your body, it will bring you a lot of benefits. Your body tells you what you need.

Very basic: when you are tired, it encourages you to take a rest. If you are hungry, to eat. But there are also subtler signals that are important if you want to feel vital and vital. Because your body not only gives you signals that have to do with your physical well-being, your emotional and mental well-being are also connected to your body.

Interaction between your head and your body

So the secret lies in awareness. Well, ‘consciousness’ is a somewhat spiritually charged word. Because it is a skill that you (often) cannot grasp with your ratio or reasoning. With my experience as a body-oriented coach, I see how deeply touching it is to let body and ratio work together. Because our body reacts to everything we think and do.

The body makes you feel and the head reacts to that. If everything is in harmony, it is good for the body and head. If things are out of balance with you (you make yourself small, you suffer from your convictions ..) then disharmony also arises in your body. And you experience this in the form of pain, fatigue and sometimes even as a chronic illness. So your body tells you, you just have to be aware of it, listen to it and then want to do something about it.

How do those ailments come about?

A while ago I read this quote: ‘If your body is whispering, it’s a hint. It wants you to listen before the screaming begins.” Ailments can become great because we are unconscious. If we are aware of ourselves, we listen to the signals that the body gives. And that takes work; they have often become ingrained patterns.

When there are emotions or thinking patterns in our lives that we are not aware of, for example a great anger that we do not see or acknowledge, this energy will settle in a place somewhere inside you. And it is precisely these places that disrupt our physical functioning. In other words, illness or pain actually forces you to self-examination. Increase your awareness and grow inwardly.

Look at pain in a different way

Physical complaints caused by the lack of consciousness shout louder and louder by amplifying the pain and discomfort. By moving your awareness to the painful spot in the body, you give that place attention and the pain loses its necessity; the disease heals or the symptoms decrease.

Of course, it is always recommended to consult a doctor to rule out or address medical causes. Yet I have also found that the two ways of looking at a disease or ailment are not mutually exclusive. In fact, body-oriented coaching can be very supportive in combination with a medical or rehabilitation process.

Your body as a guide

Physical complaints are often a symptom of something underlying. Think of your own body as an important guide. A good and faithful friend, always close, who will stay with you until the end. There is a lot of wisdom hidden in your body. So if you pay attention to your body, listen carefully, you will become a lot wiser.

But the latter, listening, is often the most difficult. Listening requires openness and putting aside all your prejudices and fears. If you can take these steps, it will become easier and the flow of insights will start automatically.

Take action

You know yourself what is best for you. This idea can provoke a wave of doubts and questions. After all, we are full of fear and criticize ourselves mountains. Recognizable? We often find it much easier to believe the wisdom of others than our own. We also follow the wisdom of our thinking more easily than that of the body, because reason has acquired a highly exalted status in our current society.

Investigate how you can work on your awareness and what your own role is in the complaint, possibly with the help of a therapist or coach who specializes in this. Sometimes it is easier if someone guides you in making contact with your body, so that you can trust that you can find what is needed deep within yourself. And who knows… you will then no longer see your pain as a complaint, but as an opportunity!

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