Train Your Brain to Relieve Pelvic Pain

By Lorraine Faehndrich

Have you ever struggled to turn off your negative thinking or wished you had a way to train your brain to focus in a more positive way? Maybe you’ve felt powerless to stop worrying about pelvic pain symptoms or obsessing that they’ll never go away. Or perhaps you’ve found yourself believing a never-ending stream of self-critical thoughts – like you can’t do it, there’s something deeply wrong with you, or no one will understand.

Thoughts like this lead to anxiety and depression – and of course, increase pelvic pain!

And it’s very likely that you’re aware of this but sometimes find it virtually impossible to stop that stream of negative thinking anyway.

If so, you’re not alone! Every woman (and man) I’ve worked with or spoken with who has suffered with pelvic pain has struggled with negative thoughts – about their symptoms, themselves, and lots of other things!

The good news is that these thoughts will not stop you from relieving pelvic pain symptoms, or anxiety. You don’t have to turn them off. You just need to learn a new way to respond to them.

More than training your brain, you need to train yourself how to respond to your brain.

The reality is that this constant stream of negative thinking, is actually completely normal – and at the same time it isn’t true, it means nothing, and it has no power over you (even though it totally seems like it does!).

You have all the power – and I’m going to show you how to access it with my “sure-fire, super-quick, super-easy, get-back-in charge-of-your-brain (and reconnect to your passion, energy, and enthusiasm) in under 5 minutes” trick.

It’s a simple way to flip the switch in your mind from what I call your “Lizard Brain” (aka the old reptilian part of your brain) to what I call your “Soul Brain” (the more evolved part of your brain that allows you to access the truth of who you are.

Let’s start with an overview of your brain.

Please keep in mind that I am a coach and mentor and not a neuroscientist. This is going to be a super simplified, but very effective and practical way to view your brain for the purposes of working with your thoughts.

I see the brain as having these 2 basic parts.

  1. The Lizard Brain (un-evolved and pretty much on auto-pilot)
  2. The Soul Brain (more evolved and user activated)

In every moment we actually have a choice about which part of our brain we will use. Even though it doesn’t feel like we have a choice, we do.

Both of these parts of our brain are equally accessible AT ALL TIMES.

The reason it feels like the Lizard Brain has the upper hand is very likely because of its autopilot feature (which was adaptive when we lived in caves, but doesn’t serve us very well in modern times). For more information on the lizard brain and other effective ways to work with it read “How to Think Positively When You’re in Pain.”

The hardest part about choosing to think from your Soul Brain is getting past the illusion that you are powerless over your Lizard Brain – or that you have to believe what it says!

In other words, the crux of healing your body, accessing your emotions and intuition, and living a joyful life is learning how to:

  • Identify when you’re lizard brain is active and what it’s saying
  • Recognize that this stream of thought means nothing (other than that you have a normal healthy lizard brain).
  • Recognize that you have the power to access your soul brain and as a result think different (and more true) thoughts.
  • Flip the switch – move out of your Lizard Brain and into your Soul Brain.

A little more on these two parts of the brain…

Lizard Brain

When you’re thinking things like….

  • I can’t do it.
  • What if this pain never goes away?
  • I’m a failure.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m a bad mother, partner, friend, etc.
  • I’m doing it wrong.
  • I’m useless.
  • Or any other thought that makes you feel bad (i.e. anxious, depressed, tense, etc. )…

You are thinking from your “lizard brain” – that part of your brain that is like a billion years old, located in your brain stem, and who’s sole purpose is to constantly scan your environment for potential danger in an attempt to keep you safe – which might be helpful if say you were a lizard! (For humans it just creates a bunch of health problems.)

We all have a Lizard Brain, and everyone’s lizard brain is active almost all the time. Remember, it’s on autopilot. When you’re stuck in or believing your lizard brain, you don’t feel good, and the way you are thinking is very likely making your pain worse.

The goal is not to permanently turn off your lizard brain (which is impossible), but instead to discover that you don’t have to listen to it!

You have a choice.

(Teaching you how to recognize and exercise that choice is what this post is all about!)

Soul Brain

Luckily, the lizard brain is only one tiny part of your brain. And, in addition to a lizard brain you also have a soul brain.

Anatomically, what I call the soul brain is located in your pre-frontal cortex. It is the more evolved part of your brain (the newer part of your brain) and it is the part of your brain that is connected to your body, your soul, and your intuition. Your soul brain houses your inner cheerleader, but it’s not just a cheerleader, it’s directly connected to the bigness and the truth of who you are as a soul. It knows your path. It can dream and make plans. It knows you are worthy and capable, and it can give you very detailed information to help you get where you want to go.

Unlike lizard brain thinking which feels bad…when you are thinking from your soul brain you feel good. You may feel lighter or tingly or expansive or hopeful.

That good feeling is your soul saying, “Yup! Now we’re talking!”

When you’re thinking from your soul brain you not only have access to your body’s wisdom about what it needs to heal, you are actually in a more relaxed physiological state – which activates healing.

So how do you switch from your Lizard Brain to your Soul Brain?

First, you have to dismantle the illusion that your lizard brain actually holds any power or speaks any truth.

Pulling Back the Curtain

Most women, when they start becoming more aware of their thoughts, experience their lizard thoughts as true.

They hear…”You’re never going to relieve this pain. You can’t do it. You’re doing it wrong. What if you have _________ (fill in worst possible incurable illness you can imagine)? You’re not good enough. You’re useless, lazy, bad.” Etc. etc. etc.

…and instinctively they believe it.

After all, it’s somewhat natural to believe that your brain is telling you the truth

But it’s not the truth.

Those thoughts are nothing more than the expected and completely meaningless chatter of the lizard brain.

There’s nothing wrong with you for thinking these thoughts. We all do. The key is learning that they are simply just thoughts. They are not necessarily true, and you don’t have to struggle with them.

You can simply choose to think other thoughts.

And, you CAN do that. Even if it doesn’t feel like you can. (I know this from lots and lots and lots of experience!)

You know the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy, the lion, the tin man and the scarecrow go in to talk to the great and powerful Oz – a giant green head floating in space, complete with smoke and a booming voice? The four friends cower as he speaks. But then, Toto runs over and pulls back the curtain to reveal a (kind of goofy) man operating the controls. And poof. The illusion disappears. There is nothing big, powerful, or scary about the Wizard of OZ. He’s just a goofy man behind the curtain.

That’s exactly what lizard brain thoughts are like. When you first start becoming more conscious of them, they can feel like the great and powerful Oz, totally scary and in control. But the reality is, it’s all smoke and mirrors. There’s nothing big, powerful or scary there. It’s just a thought. And a thought can be changed.

You have the power to pull back the curtain.

Flipping the Switch

There are lots ways to switch out of Lizard Brain thinking and into Soul Brain thinking, but the simplest and easiest one that I use most regularly is this…

  • Write the Thoughts Down: When you notice that you are worrying, criticizing, judging, or doing any of the other things your lizard brain does that make you feel bad – or if you’re just feeling anxious, or stuck, or like you want to hide under the covers – get out a piece of paper and a pen and start writing. Write down every thought you’re aware of that’s scaring you – and then look for more. I cannot overemphasize the power of getting those thoughts out and on paper where you can look at them and decide whether or not you want to continue thinking them.  Doing this in your mind is about 5% as effective as writing it on paper. Write it DOWN.
  • Notice How you Feel: Read over the thoughts and notice how they make you feel. At this point you may already be aware that some of these things aren’t true. But if you still believe them that’s fine. Scan your body from head to toe. Write down what you notice. (Remember lizard thoughts make you feel tight, contracted, heavy, bad)
  • Pulling Back the Curtain: Imagine pulling back the curtain to reveal a funny looking man who’s all flustered and making stuff up.  As you do, the illusion crumbles.  These thoughts have no power over you.
  • Step into Being the Leader: Take a breath into your low belly. Feel your feet on the floor. And as hard as it feels (even if you have to pretend at first) decide to make the choice to access your Soul Brain.
  • Write the exact opposite of everything you just wrote in #1. For example,

“You’re never going to relieve this pain.” Becomes “You are going to relieve this pain.”

“You can’t do it.” Becomes “You can do it!”

“You’re doing it wrong.” Becomes “You’re doing it right.”

“There’s something wrong with you.” Becomes “There’s something RIGHT with you.”

“You’re bad.” Becomes “You’re good.”

Again, it is VERY important to write this out!

  • Notice How You Feel: When you’re finished. Read through what you just wrote. How do these soul based thoughts make you feel? (Remember, Soul thinking makes you feel open, lighter, more relaxed – maybe even expansive and hopeful. If you’re not feeling that way – or at least a little relieved – dig deeper. Go back to step one and notice what other thoughts are there. Then go through steps 2-6 again.)

That’s it!

Lizard Brain to Soul Brain in 5 minutes or less!

Remember, EVERYONE has lizard thoughts! It’s up to you if you struggle with them or train yourself to recognize them for what they are…a stream of negative thinking that incessantly comes from your lizard brain, isn’t true, is disconnecting your from your body and emotions, means nothing, and will leave you feeling miserable if you listen to it. Instead, choose to connect to your soul – decide to be in charge.

I know it takes some effort to pull back that curtain and train yourself how to respond to your brain, but it’s really just a matter of DOING it.

It IS that easy, and when you start to see that it is, your suffering – and over time your pelvic pain symptoms – will significantly decrease.

If you’d like more help overcoming stressful negative thinking, and using your mind in ways that can heal your body (rather than create more stress, tension, anxiety, and pain) check out the Healing Female Pain online program!

Click here for all the details!

 

22 Comments

  1. mary

    What a powerful, yet simple technique! Thank you for this Lorraine!

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      You’re welcome Mary. I’m glad you like it!

      Reply
  2. Diana

    Excellent article Lorraine.

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Thanks Diana! Glad you liked it!

      Reply
  3. Terri (Teresa) Kilbride

    Lorraine, I am very glad that I received your blog entry in my email! A glitch has been fixed. This entry was extremely relevant to me, and the way you presented the concept was easy to understand. I have been very conscious this afternoon about which brain I am using. The framework is very helpful as is your belief that we can all do this. Thank you very much.

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      That’s wonderful Terri! I’m so glad it’s helping. You’re welcome and thanks for reading!

      Reply
  4. Susan Sanders

    Thank you for your insight and helpful techniques. I will definitely try the writing, and can see how it can give me hope.

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Wonderful Susan! I would love to know how it goes after you try it!

      Reply
  5. Andrea

    I appreciate you pointing out thei importance of WRITING out this process! I realize that I have experienced less pain and depression during periods when I took the time to write each day. I’m interested in reading more about why this is the case. In any event, it’s a practice I want to get back into. Starting now!

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Hi Andrea.

      If you find any research about writing I’d love to see it! I’m glad you’ve noticed the difference as well. In my experience it makes a HUGE difference! Our minds can be very “slippery” moving from one scary and untrue thought to the next. Writing the thoughts down gives us a chance to slow down that cycle enough to take a look at the thoughts and see if they are actually true or not. It’s kind of a way to catch onto ourselves – or that lizard brain.

      Glad you’re going to start writing today! Would love to know how it goes!

      Love and Magic,
      Lorraine

      Reply
  6. Kathy Doherty

    Excellent post, Lorraine,
    It describes me to a ” T ” ! I ve been living in Lizard Brain mode for years…long before pelvic pain began.
    When something happens, my brain goes right to the worst case scenario.
    Now after years of researching all the pelvic pain disorders that seemed to match my symptoms , I became convinced that healing wasn’t going to occur and of course got stuck in this situation. This can even cause the new symtoms ..ie while some may be a bit better, others emerge!
    As a veteran of this thinking , I wonder if it will be harder for me to reverse it ?
    I know I want to try!
    Thanks again for this info.

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Kathy, I’d say you’re already doing it! You’re aware even of getting stuck in the Lizard Brain thoughts about your symptoms. That is progress! To answer your question. No. It’s not harder. And that thought that it might be is a lizard brain thought! Can you see that? Your soul brain would say….I wonder if it will be easier for me to reverse it? And that could easily be true because as a veteran 🙂 you are very aware now of the negative impact of this thinking and that you want to change it. Start using the tool. They are only thoughts and thoughts can be changed. The hardest part is catching onto them and remembering that it is an illusion that they hold any kind of power. They don’t. No matter how long you’ve been thinking lizard brain thoughts…. they are still only thoughts.

      You’re on your way!! Thanks for reading and sharing.

      Warmly,
      Lorraine

      Reply
  7. Stephanie

    What a great post! I am looking forward to adding this to my daily practice! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      You’re welcome Stephanie. I’m glad you are planning on adding it to your daily practice and think you will notice a difference! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  8. Alime

    Very good way of thinking positively.Have you heard before Cognitive Exercise Therapy Approach (Bety) in Turkey.It is a new approach for defeating pain and biopsychosocial method,I recommend to you.Thanks a lot

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Thanks for the recommendation Alime!

      Reply
  9. Debbie

    Dear Lorraine, this past November I started to experience severe stress at work, right up until the middle of April. Not only this, for two months, February and March, I tried to keep my dog alive. In and out of the vet hospital to have his lungs drained. Emotionally it was killing me. I would be up with him all night, wouldn’t sleep for days, had massive panic attacks, and lost seven pounds that I didn’t need to lose in two weeks. At this point, I started to experience vaginal burning. I was prescribed medication after medication, referred to a vulva specialist. MRI, pain pills, on and on. On March 23, I had to put my dog down. At this point, my body was broken. Two days later, my father was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He couldn’t have the tumor removed until a month and a half later. The worry there was horrible. Otis is now gone, my father had his surgery and is going through treatment, and my mind is hell bent on holding onto the pain/burning in the vagina. You are right when you said that people will think this will never go away. That is my thought process right now. For a long time now, all I know is this. Today, I found your site. The lizzard brain and the soul brain have given me hope. To read it in print and to picture that golden fluid encompassing my body made a crack in my mind. I’ve been praying so hard for relief and finding your site and reading and reading might be what gets me well again. It’s hard to remember what life was like before this pain and before all this stress. Thank you so much for sharing. “Thank you” doesn’t even seem enough to say.

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      You’re welcome Debbie! Thank you for sharing your journey. I am so glad you found my website and that it is resonating with you, and thrilled to hear that you noticed a crack! What’s that Leonard Cohen song…”There is a crack in everything. That’s where the light gets in” I hope you enjoy what you read here and that it continues to bring you more and more hope and relief (emotional and physical). I think it’s exactly what you need after a year so full of loss, stress, and emotion. Be patient with yourself and your body. Your body is very likely guiding you towards the deeper healing and support you need. I went through health issues with 2 of my kitties this year, and had to let go of both of them. I understand how much stress that is…and how emotional, especially when dealing with a parents illness at the same time. Sending you love and healing vibes. Thanks again for sharing your story and how the post impacted you. Warmest Wishes, Lorraine

      Reply
  10. Milan

    Wow simply incredible. What a wonderful explanation and a positive way of looking at this.

    Reply
  11. Ron

    Lorraine,
    The timing on your post is praiseworthy and simply amazing. As I started to read it I found so many familiar physiological, neurological and spiritual bits of wisdom that perfectly aligned with a resently purchased book I began to read “The Rewired Brain” by Dr. Ski Chilton. In this publication are significant references to biblical scripture and truths. The book was far more clinical and your post was a refreshing summary that made these truths far more applicable and easier to understand without constantly referencing my medical dictionary.
    Thanks you for the confirmation.
    Blessings Ron

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Hi Ron!

      Lol. I’m glad it was a good reinforcement for you, good timing, and easy enough to read that you didn’t need a medical dictionary 🙂 One of my goals is to simplify things so people can understand and USE the concepts so I’m very happy to hear your feedback. Thanks for reading and sharing!

      Warmly,
      Lorraine

      Reply
  12. Ian MacFarlane

    Aa a man, not in pain, whose friend has been trying to rid herself of this essentially inexplicable condition I wonder if a fear of life, brought about by suppression, is the basis which eventually resolves itself with this form of flagellation. It seems most societies, especially those as small as couples, are male dominated and find women the easiest members to blame for whatever is wrong. This has to weigh on women to the point which they may punish themselves with this most intimate pain. It is important, perhaps now more than ever, that women take over the reins for their sake and that of men as well. Women are not guilty of anything, but the affront of being human.

    Reply

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