Chronic pain is not just physical hurt; it is a whole lot more. Pain affects your thoughts, your moods, your relationships, your motivation and ability to work, your ability to experience pleasure, and your view of yourself. Research shows that these psychological and social factors are more predictive of your long-term adjustment to chronic pain than is the severity of your physical pain or the extent of your injuries.
It was very frustrating for me (Bruce) to experience healthcare professionals as well as my friends and family questioning if I really was in that much pain. I was reminded repeatedly that I looked okay. They could not see my pain as I did not wear it on my sleeves. I did not broadcast it. Plus, I was the only person who could feel my pain. Others told me, directly or indirectly, that I should just “snap out of it” and “get back to work”. I felt alienated, and developed resentments.
I discovered that my use of the self-help tools of self-hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, focused imagery, relaxation techniques, and cognitive-behavior therapy became life-saving for me. I have also helped hundreds of patients cope better with their chronic pain by teaching them how to use these powerful yet gentle and respectful tools after I thoroughly assessed each patient from a psychological perspective.