How to trust your chronic pain recovery process…

3 examples of moving through hopelessness to the other side.

photo by author

If you’ve already begun the journey of chronic pain recovery using a mind-body approach, you’ve probably experienced each of these things at some point along the way:

  • That glimmer of hope and optimism telling you that you’re on the right track and that if you just keep following this path, you’re going to be okay.
  • That feeling of hopelessness, fear and despair telling you that … well, it’s telling you a lot of different things and they’re all freaking terrifying. We’ll leave it at that.

I’ve been to both places. And as a chronic pain recovery therapist and coach, I often get asked the question: How can I trust that I’m going to be okay when things feel so scary right now?

What I’m about to say next might sound annoying, but it isn’t meant to: You already know how to trust your process.

Since trusting your process is a felt experience, a theoretical explanation wouldn’t really do it justice. Instead, I’m going to share 3 stories that I hope will help you realize you already know how to do this. Maybe you’ll recognize yourself in one of these narratives — or maybe they’ll spark a memory of an experience that’s more unique to you

1. Lying on the floor

About 7 years ago, I was just starting to unearth some of my own childhood wounds in therapy. And as I began to open up Pandora’s box, my nervous system got wildly overwhelmed. I started to experience new and unfamiliar symptoms that frightened the 💩 out of me, like: Dizzy spells, suddenly feeling the ground move and sway under me, disorientation, hyperventilating…

On one occasion, alone in my apartment, I called my therapist in a panic because I couldn’t calm down. At least, so I thought.

With her gentle encouragement, I laid down on the floor and tuned into the floor’s support. And then I waited for my breath to settle.

And it didn’t. So, with her encouragement, I waited some more. And it still didn’t settle. So, with her encouragement, I waited some more. And it still didn’t settle. And it didn’t, and it didn’t, and it didn’t for a very long time…

Until, eventually, it did. 💗

2. A frightened client

Sometimes, when a client comes to work with me, they are in emergency mode. Waves of panic are coming fast and unrelenting. They feel fearful that it will never end. And as I work with them during this stage, I have my own moments of feeling swept up in a wave of fear.

But what I’ve learned over time is: I can ride out those waves of fear and come back to steadiness. I come back to my core belief in the client’s resilience. I come back to this belief again, and again, and again…

Sometimes the client feels like it’s taking forever. But we just keep showing up. And what I’ve seen over and over again is: With support and encouragement, they eventually find their footing in their own way, pace and time, which can be supported and encouraged but not rushed. 💗

3. Bruno the cat

When my partner and I adopted our third cat, Bruno, he was in a state of fear. He’d been moved around to several different homes right before coming to us, and he was understandably rattled by it. And it showed in his behavior: He was hissing and scratching and biting, and to be honest, I initially panicked. I thought we’d made a huge mistake in adopting him.

And that lasted for a while: Bruno’s fear and my fear.

But again, we both kept showing up. And although I continued to have doubts along the way, there was a part of me that began to fall in love with Bruno. And as that love grew and Bruno’s fear melted, we eventually found safety together. He still scratches and bites on occasion when he gets triggered — but who doesn’t, right? 😉

TRUSTING THE PROCESS

Trusting the process of recovery doesn’t mean never having doubts or moments of panic.

It just means coming back to ourselves again. And again. And again. With love, presence, care and acceptance. It means being there for ourselves unconditionally, no matter how long things seem to take.

Take a look at dear Bruno in the photo above. Would you put a time limit on his recovery process or lose faith in him when he hit a rough patch? I doubt it (I mean, just look at that sweet face 😻)

So what would it be like to gather up those feelings of tenderness that you’d have for a cat or a puppy or a beloved friend — and shine that tenderness onto yourself. You are so, so worth it. 💗💗💗

With love, gentleness, encouragement and enormous faith in you,

Anna

P.S. For more support with anxiety and chronic pain, take the FREE QUIZWhy the *bleep* am I still in pain?! to help you get some clarity.

And follow me on instagram for daily healing tips, inspiration and support!

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