I was a young woman abroad, traveling around and teaching English to pay my way. It had begun as a very enjoyable adventure, exploring and interacting with the many different cultures, people and places I came across as I savored the sense of freedom and play that being abroad seemed to bring.
Then one day I got up in the morning to go and deliver my class as usual and felt a nagging and persistent pain in my back. It came across as a deep, tired ache. Bending backward was a real problem for me. It was the ability to bend forward that led the doctor to say I was fine and should go to work. By the look in his eye, it was obvious what my backache meant to him – that I was playing a ‘fast one’ to get out of a day’s teaching!
To me it meant:
I think the conclusion of all this is that back pain is not as straightforward and simple a condition as it sounds. We need to look at what MEANING it has for the person who is experiencing it. We need to understand that all these thoughts, memories and accompanying emotions can act as additional stressors to cause, aggravate or intensify the condition or keep it there.
Any treatment of the pain needs to include an investigation into what meanings and feelings are associated with it, past, present and future. A way needs to be provided to work through or let go of these stressors. Otherwise, they can block or get in the way of our body’s natural healing processes and make the problem worse, both emotionally and physically. We could also explore what ‘new meanings’ might be assigned to the experience to enhance and encourage restoration and wellness.
What Else is Possible?
Here are a few other possible ways of understanding the pain
Becoming aware of and understanding the effects that ‘meanings and emotions attached to pain’ can have allows me the choice and opportunity to address the underlying factors and come up with a cure instead of just ‘putting up’ with the pain, staying in the same conditioned mindset or popping pills to treat the symptoms, that might otherwise possibly do more harm than good.