Please understand that "Pain Behaviours" is not recognized by the medical community as a whole. It is a title that I have placed on certain behaviours we may exhibit due to our pain. I call them "pain behaviours" because we often engage in these behaviours when we are struggling with our pain or the intense feelings of anxiety and/or depression that come with pain. We may even use pain behaviours as negative coping skills.
Examples of Pain Behaviours
- substance abuse - drugs & alcohol
- self abuse - cutting, picking, PICA, any other action of behavour that causes physical harm to self
- disassociating with your life - not performing personal hygiene routines, avoiding friends & family, avoiding activities you once enjoyed, no longer being actively involved with your medical plan of care
- eating disorders - soothing your emotions with food is just as dangerous as giving up on food
- explosive bouts of anger - are your emotions expressed angrily towards others in and/or around your life?
- prescription abuse - taking more than prescribed or in ways other than prescribed
- negative self-talk - abusive, demeaning, self-limiting conversations with yourself
Before you can change your pain behaviours you must first understand them. When you find yourself engaging in your pain behaviours, stop and ask yourself some hard questions,
- Why am I doing (name behaviour)?
- What purpose is (name behaviour) serving in my life right now?
- What can I do differently to deal with my pain or feelings of anxiety or depression instead of (name behaviour)?
Once we can understand the why behind the things we do in life, we are better able to make the changes we want. Re-conditioning how we respond to the pain we experience is within our abilities with understanding the question why?.
Realizing, understanding and changing our own behaviours can be difficult. It will take time and practice to fully understand the reasons behind your behaviours before you can begin to implement the changes you want for your life moving forward. But don't give up! It can be done.
Take a look at the examples of pain behaviours, do you recognize some of your own behaviours? Maybe you have others that aren't on the list. Take the time to write down what your list of pain behaviours are. What do you do when you're struggling with your pain and the emotions that come with it? Include what you would like to do differently in the future instead of your current pain behaviours.
Having a plan to deal with your pain behaviours will make this exercise easier. But remember too..... you cannot fix what you do not acknowledge.
take good care of you