When Chronic Pain Becomes Too Much Stop Trying So Hard

By Lorraine Faehndrich

When chronic pain becomes too much, working harder can work against you.

When chronic pain becomes too much to handle, many women tend to try even harder to relieve it.

One personality trait that women with pelvic pain or other mind body syndromes often have is perfectionism.

Maybe you can relate.

We can have high expectations of ourselves and a drive to do things well and get a lot done. As a result, we may push ourselves and work hard, often at the expense of our body, to achieve what we want.

When Chronic Pain Becomes Too Much

Before being diagnosed with pelvic pain, many of my clients are high-achieving successful women who got to where they are in their lives with hard work, determination and effort.

It’s a successful strategy.

So it’s only natural, when you are diagnosed with pelvic pain, that you would apply these same  strategies to healing and relieving your pain.

Initially that may look like lots of research, to find the best specialists, and explore every option available to you.

And that can pay off. It can lead to answers and treatments you may never have known about otherwise – like mind body pain relief.

Unfortunately this same pattern will not continue to be helpful when it comes to applying a mind body approach to relieving your pain.

When chronic pain becomes too much, you can’t relieve it with hard work and effort because hard work and effort impact your body in ways that create and perpetuate pain.

In fact, when chronic pain becomes too much to handle, scheduling your day to revolve around relieving your symptoms can be counterproductive.

If you’re feeling stressed about all the things you’re trying to do every day to relieve your pain, like physical therapy exercises, meditation, appointments, pain journals, food prep, mind body practice, etc. that may be a clue that you’re working too hard.

The treatments themselves, and the underlying beliefs behind how you’re using them can become part of the problem.

To be successful with mind body pain relief it’s important to approach healing in a different way.  Instead of working hard and putting a lot of pressure on yourself to do everything, and do it right, you want to move towards relaxing and taking pressure off yourself.

This may feel weird at first!  And that’s totally normal.  You’re learning a whole new way of being.

Your Body is on Your Side

Your body holds more wisdom than you could possibly imagine.

The brilliance of any chronic pain syndrome, and especially chronic pelvic pain, is that in order to relieve it you must change the patterns of perfectionism, self-pressure, and hard work that are often at the root of the pain.

When chronic pain becomes too much, you must learn to slow down, relax into your body and feel.

Your body is literally demanding that you do.

From what I’ve seen and experienced myself this will change your life for the better in so many wonderful ways! It may not be easy at first, but it doesn’t require lots of effort, it just requires showing up.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, relieving pain isn’t a process of working hard to fix your body (your body isn’t broken), it’s a process of relaxing into who you already are.

Stop trying so hard.

That’s what calms down your nervous system and signals safety to your brain.

Stop Fixing. Start Being.

What if instead of trying to fix your body, you start loving it instead.

What might you do differently?

Would you drop some things off your To Do list?

Would you worry less about doing things right?

Would you make choices based on what felt good rather than what you should do?

How do you think that would feel?

You don’t have to stop all effort all at once. (In other words don’t try to do this perfectly either! Even though I know you probably want to :)) Instead, take baby steps. Give yourself a chance to build up your muscle for trusting your body and yourself.

Notice the ways you put pressure on yourself and see if you can start taking some of that pressure off.

Just get headed in the right direction.

Remember, lasting healing and relief begin from the premise that you are already whole.

Because you are.

What one baby step can you take towards releasing effort today? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

2 Comments

  1. Marie

    Hi from France and thank you very much for this article 🙏🏼
    I used to have a super active and passionate life until the age of 30.
    Then, while working under the management of a very twisted boss, I suddenly started to suffer from intense lower back pain. After 6 months of terrible pain and Inflammation, I slowly managed to recover.
    But pain came back. Only this time it was more around my psoas, ovaries, etc.
    After several exams, I was diagnosed with adenomyosis and endometriosis.
    1 week after receiving this diagnosis, I left the company I’d been working in and mistreated in for 5 years

    Since then, though trying to work my way out as a freelancer and doing everything I could to heal (with that determination you describe well in your article !) I feel like I’m going nowhere.
    I had surgery this summer and several lesions were excised but pain is almost worse (different but worse).
    It’s mostly nerve pain.

    My question after all that is …I get everything you are saying about trying to be and feel more than « achieve » just for the sake of achieving, but the more I rest the more I get depressed.
    I’ve slowed down SO MUCH let alone lockdowns in France which make us all slow down anyway.
    And that lifestyle doesn’t make me feel happy.
    I work 10 times less than before, I don’t even workout anymore because even walking triggers pain (always in the same area), … I don’t know what I could do more or less or differently ?

    I miss sports, running, hiking, moving around SO MUCH!

    Thanks for reading me

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Hi Marie,

      Thank you for your sharing and questions. Resting is one important key, but there are others. For example working with stressful thinking, learning how to welcome your emotions, as well as fresh air, movement and other things that nourish you. I would encourage you to read more on my blog here about emotions as well as pleasure. The key is to do those things in a way where you are listening to your body and not pushing yourself. Sometimes you will need rest, sometimes gentle movement or walking, sometimes making space for emotions, and sometimes connecting with friends or making time for things that feel fun. What do you think you need more of right now? Is there a way you can add that in to your life?

      Warmly,
      Lorraine

      Reply

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