Tips from a chronic pain recovery therapist
A question that often plagues folks on the path of chronic pain recovery is: “Why me?”
To varying degrees, everyone experiences stressors in life. Yet many people seem to be able to tolerate life’s stressors without showing symptoms of stress — symptoms like anxiety, depression, heightened emotions and/or chronic pain.
So, if you’re someone who seems to be highly sensitized to stress, you might get the impression that there’s something “wrong” with you. (Spoiler alert: there’s not.)
We live in a culture that pathologizes emotional sensitivity and normalizes emotional numbness.
But the truth is, numbness and heightened sensitivity are both symptoms of emotional repression. On the surface, they look different. But they’re two sides of the same coin.
Repressed emotions are compressed energy. And compressed energy can take on multiple forms:
- Compressed energy can stay contained for a while, like a pot of boiling water with the lid jammed on. But eventually it explodes.
- In some people, the lid stays jammed on most of the time. You might not even be able to tell that there’s boiling water under the surface, and they appear to be “doing just fine,” meaning: they’re conforming to the standards of our societal norms.
- In some people, the pot of water looks like it’s always on the verge of bursting … and from time to time it does.
- In other people, the pot seems to be constantly bubbling over, with the lid nowhere to be found.
All of these are symptoms of a culture that encourages us to reject our own emotions. “Under-expressed” emotions are simply more convenient to patriarchy than “over-expressed” emotions, so blunted sensitivity is considered normal while heightened sensitivity is pathologized.
All this to say, it may seem like others are “doing just fine” while you seem to be “overly sensitive” — physically and/or emotionally. And you may be asking yourself “why me?”
But the truth is that we are all impacted by living in a culture of emotional repression — even if that impact looks different from person to person. And we would all benefit from a shift in culture toward allowing, accepting and honoring emotions. (If you’re reading this, I have a feeling you’re already taking part in this collective culture shift.)
Instead of seeing your sensitivities as something “wrong,” what if you were to view them as your superpowers? Your finely attuned antennae letting you know that there’s actually a kinder, more wholesome, respectful and nurturing way of being that we could all be moving toward? What if your emotions are the guiding stars pointing us all in the direction of a healthier and more loving human culture?
What if you aren’t broken at all, just reacting to a world that’s aching for positive change?
With love and warmth,
➡️ If you need support with chronic pain and anxiety, take my FREE QUIZ called “Why the *bleep* am I still in pain?!” so I can help you get some clarity.
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