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Pain and Negative Thoughts: Theory

In this blog I reflect on 'why thoughts influence pain'. In the previous blog you already did an exercise in recognizing thoughts.

The medicine cabinet

How is it that what you think can literally affect your body? A nice way to explain that is 'the medicine cabinet in your brain'. Everyone has a 'medicine cabinet' in the brain. When our brains estimate that a situation is dangerous, it causes pain. The alarm system then causes 'the medicine cabinet' to close - so that you feel plenty of pain.

negative thoughts

Thoughts and the medicine cabinet

That medicine cabinet can also be opened. Our brain can very well reduce its own pain. To open the medicine cabinet, the alarm system must be convinced that there is no danger. 

Thoughts you have can contribute a great deal to the extent to which your alarm system detects danger. Examples of thoughts that increase the feeling of danger are, for example:

  • It's really not right in my back, something must be wrong
  • The doctor said I'm never gonna be able to carry a heavy load again
  • I'm about to get my nerve pinched again

Thoughts that reduce the sense of danger are, for example:

  • Pain doesn't have to mean damage, let's see what's feasible
  • The body is well able to repair itself
  • Worrying about pain in the future doesn't help me now.

As positive and supportive thoughts increase, there is less danger. The medicine cabinet in the brain will become more open and can positively influence your pain. 

Pain and Negative Thoughts: Theory