Embrace your pain! I remember spending a week last year with a sporting legend, American Footballer Ray Lewis. Because of his career as an American Footballer, and one famous for tackling harder than pretty much anyone in the NFL (National Football League), he has over the years, developed a pretty close relationship with pain.
Pain is GOOD!
Ray and I had some pretty interesting conversations but the one thing we both agreed on was that pain is good! Yes, I kno this seems counter-intuitive, but stay with me and let me explain. For Ray, the pain he experienced was a way to stop himself literally from destroying himself, using his own body as a battering ram. Ray would tell me that he embraces pain; for him, it is a tool that tells him just how far he can go whilst training and playing. Ignore the pain completely, as some jocks would recommend, then you run the danger of causing a career-ending injury. Ray smilingly tells me that barely a day has ever gone by without him feeling pain.
For me, pain (nociception) is one of our most important senses as it tells us something is wrong and that we should find a solution or make some kind of correction. I myself played rugby for many years and played through a great deal of discomfort, unaware at that time of the consequences. But life is a learning experience and I’m older and wiser now. I still have aches but I understand completely why it’s there and it helps keep me focussed on my body and looking after myself for the long journey ahead.
Obviously, as a chiropractor, I encounter pain every day and much of our work is to relieve our clients’ pain. I’ve thought a lot about pain and I have a simple strategy that works for me and I suggest strongly that you try it.
Here’s my strategy…
- What is the pain telling you? Almost always it is saying that some sort of correction is needed. There is a dysfunction that needs your attention. Ignore the whispers from your body at your peril or before you know it your body will be screaming at you.
- Take action! Identify the cause of the dysfunction and take steps to correct it. Then maintain the correction. What is your strategy?
- Use your pain as a reminder, to keep the affected area and rest of the body in alignment and well balanced. Do this always until it is part of your subconscious, habitual behavior. This will be one of your most important life strategies to embrace for healthy aging.
- Own your pain. Of course, the pain will reoccur, especially if there is real tissue damage or deterioration. Understand what actions to take to get back on top of the problem. Always take a long-term view.
Remember there are many people suffering way more pain than yourself. There have been numerous occasions when clients come to see me to help them get rid of their discomfort only to discover that there are several other things beginning to go wrong, all needing some attention. In these cases, their pain helped prevent potentially far more serious conditions.
Also, be mindful that our structure consists of 206 bones (including 24 vertebrae and 26 in each foot) all needing to be in correct alignment. Much of the pain we endure is due to the poor alignment of weight-bearing joints. I use my pain, presently my left foot and right knee, to remind me to keep everything in alignment – important because I need to stay active for my purpose in life. I feel OK about this as I understand what’s going on – I own my pain and take full responsibility. No victim mentality allowed here! Embrace your pain!
What’s your great purpose? Embrace your pain to remind you that you have to take care of business and our first business is looking after ourselves. That way we can look after our loved ones more effectively, contribute more and do what we’re meant to be doing – enjoying life and rocking the world 🙂