A Way Too Simple Approach to Feel Better
I’m learning about the neuroscience of pain, and it’s weirdly FASCINATING and totally MIND BLOWING!
The bottom line is Pain = sensation + fear (perception of threat)
You have to have fear in order to have pain.
Erase fear and you erase pain.
Can I apply this to emotional pain? Because I have a ton of that!
Especially in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning. It’s like there is an elephant on my chest. It’s definitely uncomfortable and I definitely don’t want it there.
My thinking, “There must be something very wrong if I’m feeling this way.”
Aha! I detect FEAR!
But what if it could be just a sensation and I didn’t need to assign a meaning to it?
How does it feel without the fear?
Well, It’s just…sensation. A very strong sensation yes but just sensation, nonetheless.
So, what to do. How to go from fear to safety. From emotional pain to just sensation.
First, it’s enough for there to just be a “crack” in my logic of “something must be very wrong if I’m feeling this way.”
I can ask “is it true?” “Is it absolutely true that something is very wrong?” (Extrapolated from Byron Katie’s “The Work.”)
Then look around. Well, I’m in my bed. It’s quiet. Everyone’s asleep. Nothing seems very wrong in this moment. So maybe it’s not ABSOLUTELY true.
Then FEEL the sensation. What does it feel like? Where in the body is it? How big is it? Is it changing?
Can it be just sensation without it being assigned meaning?
The good news for me (or at least a positive reframe) is that I get these strong sensations quite often, so I have lots of opportunity for practice.
Steps to reframe emotional pain to just neutral sensation
1. Become aware of the feeling
2. Notice if there is any fear (thoughts like “something must wrong if I’m feeling this
3. Ask “Is it absolutely true that “insert your fear thought?”
4. Attempt to really focus on feeling the sensation without the fear – where in my body is
it? What does it feel like?