Drawing the wrong conclusions

11 min. reading time

How is it that pain is so difficult to predict? Why do you have more pain one day than the next? Why does one effort cause pain and another does not?

Pain is difficult to predict. Sometimes you don't suffer from anything after exercising, another time you can barely get out of bed. Some busy days lead to you having to rest for a few days, while another busy day doesn't seem to lead to any significant problems.

All this is because pain is 'emergent'. Emergent means that many different influences determine the outcome. Where not all influences are clear by a long shot. 

An example: Colours. When you see a colour, it is often a mixture of different colours that you can no longer see at that moment. In fact, the fabrics that make up the colour do not have any colour of their own, but they do have colour as a whole! 

Now back to pain. There are many influences that determine pain: exertion, stress, thoughts, feelings, where your attention is, sleep (lack of sleep), the quality of social contacts, and so on. Where acute pain can still be reasonably (but also not well) predicted, with chronic pain there are many more influences that make the pain unpredictable. 

It is, as it were, impossible to find out in your 'colour of pain' what mixture of colours together have caused it.

Drawing the wrong conclusions

Conclusions too quick

So it is impossible to be completely sure of what is causing your pain.  A tendency of our brains, which does not help us in this case, is to draw quick conclusions. Because we want to avoid the pain as much as possible, our brains start looking for reasons for the pain - and then (often unjustly!) avoid these things. 

 An example: Petra pretends to go for walks more often. The first three times are fine, but after the third time she gets a lot of pain. She has to rest the rest of the day and misses work, because she really can't do it. She decides that walking is not for her. 

In this example it seems logical to blame the pain on walking, but is that really the case? Petra has walked without pain hundreds of times in her life. The last two times went well, and now she is in pain once. The conclusion seems to be taken too quickly. It could well be that a stressful day and bad sleep were the cause! Maybe she would have been in even more pain if she hadn't walked... 

But, if it doesn't help to draw conclusions from your pain all the time, how do you change it? The answer is simple, but difficult to implement, namely to make as many parts of your life better as possible! Because pain is always a cooperation between all kinds of parts of your life, it helps the most to make you feel good in as many areas as possible! 

Upgrade your life (a lifelong exercise....)

Check for yourself how satisfied you are with the next parts of your life by giving the following parts a grade (0 - 10):




Social contacts

(Voluntary) work





Choose the item with the lowest number. Write down what is currently going less well. Then how you could make progress. What habits would you like to develop that would improve your life in this area? 

Take your time, make a plan. Set yourself achievable goals and don't do too much at once. A small step forward a day will eventually do more for you than spontaneously change your whole life.

 Example: I often go to bed too late because I still want to do a lot of things in the evening. Then I am active until late, which makes it difficult for me to get to sleep at all. The first step could be to read a book in the last half hour of the evening, so that I can sleep easily. Without paying attention to the time. If that goes well, I can see if I manage to start reading in bed at 22:00. And so on and on, until you are satisfied with this area in your life.

 Improving parts of your life is a life's work in itself, and will never be 'finished'. Not with me, anyway. 

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