All too often, our brain is the reason behind our pain. For instance, I’m a perfectionist and a people pleaser. Worrying about not making any mistakes and meeting everyone’s expectations really took a toll on my body. That is until I discovered that it is my mind that controls everything. Once I realized that I could retrain my brain, I knew there was a way out of my pain. Now, while I know trying hard and having high expectations is not a bad thing, I also know that I need to limit those expectations of myself so they do not cause me pain. I have learned to retrain my brain to stop my pain. Now, it’s time to share the mind training exercises that have worked for me, with you.
Identification & Journaling
The first step in retraining your brain is identifying the source of the pain. This may be difficult to do. You might know right away what the pain source is, or it may be repressed or even consciously forgotten. Really think about what areas of your life are causing you stress. Is it a traumatic event that happened? Is it toxic people in your life? Does it have to do with the expectations you’ve set for yourself? If you struggle to find the answer, journaling may just be the key. Once I started journaling, stressors came to light which I thought I’d moved past. As it turns out, I really hadn’t. Once I had identified my pain, I could then deal with retraining my brain’s way of handling it.
Talkback is an excellent way to train the brain by standing up against the pain it is causing. The talkback method can help by refocusing the mind in order to cease the pain. Talking to your brain out loud can help you turn off the fear and pain. Let your brain know that you understand it is just trying to help, to divert your attention away from the painful emotions which your brain deems more harmful than the physical pain. Be firm, be loud, be clear. Be specific when speaking to your brain: I KNOW. I UNDERSTAND. STOP SENDING ME PAIN SIGNALS. You can even curse at your mind if it helps. The stronger the message, the better. Your words will make your brain calm down and your pain stop.
Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy
For those that cannot figure out their pain sources on their own, whether through thinking about it or journaling, another method may be necessary to move forward. The ultimate goal of Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) is to get to the heart of the patient’s emotional turmoil. The ISTDP method allows patients to identify and disarm the defense mechanism their mind has built and find repressed emotions that are causing the pain. There are two main steps in the ISTDP process: identification and refocusing the mind. The first step, locating the patient’s conflicted or repressed emotions, is crucial. Once identified, the second step of retraining can begin. The therapist will work to help you train your brain away from repressing painful memories, events or emotions, so that you can deal with what happened in a healthy way.
One of the best additional mind training exercises is meditation. It can be an exemplary way to enter the subconscious mind and identify your pain source. On its own, it may not be able to identify everything, but it can go a long way in helping you relax and even eliminate some of the stressors in your life. The best part of meditation is that it doesn’t have to be fancy or difficult. Even just five minutes of meditation sitting in your favorite chair at home can help a lot.