One of the most de-motivating thing is when you feel you don’t have control over what your body is doing – and therefore your life. And for many people who have chronic pain, this is exactly how they feel – every day.
When they wake up, they’re not sure if this is going to be a good pain day…or a bad pain day.
They don’t know whether they’ll be able to get on and do the things they want (or need) to do…or whether it’s going to be a struggle.
I want to introduce to you the idea of locus of control.
Your locus of control is how much you believe you are able to control events in your life. ‘Locus’ is a latin word meaning area or place.
So your locus of control is the area in which you have control over what happens. And even in your body – even if your pain system is misbehaving – you still have a lot of things you can control. More than you’d think.
To strengthen your locus of control, the most important area to work on is controlling your attention. Where you put your attention will in turn control what you are aware of – which will influence your pain system and how it reacts.
Here’s a simple exercise in mind-body exercise to try.
When you wake up – or when doing something that usually hurts (like walking when you have a sore hip,) try this: put your attention on the areas of comfort in your body – rather than the areas that hurt.
Most people search for their pain first thing in the morning. It’s natural – you want to find out what might be a problem.
Instead – try searching for the areas that feel ok (even the only area you can find is your left elbow.)
As you get better at controlling your attention, you’ll get better at switching off the pain that’s being caused by pain sensitisation. And as you do that, you’ll start slowly turning down the underlying process that drives so much of chronic pain.