"Hypnosis has a really great track record for dealing with pain, and there are some powerful techniques that can be done in a session with a hypnotist that can help you to deal with pain, including chronic issues, but there are also some interesting mind-hacks that you can use on your own any time you find yourself struggling with pain.Relaxation. I know, it"s hard to relax completely when you"re feeling really uncomfortable, but anything you can do to increase your feeling of relaxation will help. Pain signals are transmitted as electrical impulses through nerve endings in your brain, and as you relax, those endings move further apart, impeding the impulses and reducing the discomfort you feel. Something as simple as taking slow deep breaths can allow this process to begin, and make it easier for you to continue relaxing and continue feeling better.
Disassociation. Instead of experiencing yourself as being inside your body, feeling your feelings, including whatever pain and discomfort you may feel in the moment, try closing your eyes and imagining yourself from the outside, like you"re floating out of your body and looking back to see yourself, sitting there with your eyes closed. Watching yourself from some distance will help you to distance yourself from those internal feelings. You can even imagine seeing yourself begin to feel better as you are watching. Another way to disassociate is to use a mirror. Look at yourself in the mirror as though it"s the real you, look for the feelings of discomfort on that version of you, and ask where they are, or if they have just disappeared, which often happens on it"s own as you view it externally. Bonus tip: this technique also can also help with overwhelming emotional feelings.
Distraction. When you are feeling pain, you can find yourself focusing on it all the time, and that"s not really helpful. Imagine for a moment that you"re doing something you really want to do, like seeing your favorite musician in concert or going sailing in beautiful tropical waters. Chances are, you aren"t paying much attention to aches and pains in that moment, because you"re so caught up in doing something else. The distraction doesn"t necessarily have to be something fun, as long as it captures your attention. Milton Erickson, one of the greatest hypnotherapists of all time, once told a patient to imagine there was a tiger in her room. Faced with that distraction, she found she was no longer aware of her pain, and continued using the image of that tiger in her room as a distraction to great effect whenever her pain became overwhelming. The real point here is to find something else you can pay your full attention to, and you may find that you forget to notice your discomfort entirely.
Over Describing. This may seem like the opposite of number 3, but it works just as well, and is often my go to method for dealing with a headache. This technique involves focusing on the pain in a more deliberate way than you usually do. Start by describing it. Let"s say you have a headache, describe it. You might say, "It"s on the left side, it feels sharp". Then get more detailed, where exactly on the left, and you try to pin point it exactly. Try to describe the feeling in more and more detail, maybe that it"s sort of sharp right here, but a little dull, and fading here, and so forth. Just keep zooming in on it, in increasing detail, and eventually you"ll find that you can"t really pin point it at all, and that attempting to do so has caused it slip away from you entirely. If you"ve never tried this method before, it"s fascinating to experience.
Changing Submodalities. This technique is strait out of neuro-linguistic programming, and while explaining how it works is a little complicated, the process is very easy to do. Basically, we want to take the pain out of your kinesthetic/feeling system, and make a change to it by processing it in a different system, usually the visual system because it"s the most different from feelings, but you can work with sounds instead of images if that seems right for you. You start by imagining removing the discomfort, placing it as though it"s in front of you instead of inside you, and ask yourself, "If this discomfort had a color, what would it be?". Once you have the answer, ask yourself, "What color would feel better?". Then, imagine yourself reaching out to change the visual representation to the desired color, maybe using a dial or remote control, however you like. If you feel like you need to make more changes to it, you can change the shape, the sound, whatever you"d like. Then, once it"s changed and you"re satisfied with the results, put it back inside and notice how different it feels. It"s really simple, but this technique can have a surprisingly powerful effect."
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