I healed 10 years of persistent back pain using the mind-body approach. Now my life is even better than before.
Although this story is about my back pain, I encourage you to read the story and consider your own symptoms and life events.
The mind-body approach can work on so many symptoms, even if the traditional medical approach has not worked for you.
With the ability of hindsight, I’m able to share my story and at the same time weave in what I now know to be true to offer hope and learning for you.
Who was I before the pain?
Active would be an understatement! Before suffering with back pain, I loved running and dancing. I was working as a full time, Director of Human Resources and always studying something on the side.
I didn’t have an off button and my friends would refer to me as the ‘energizer bunny’.
It was a dance festival where I initially injured my back just weeks before setting off to Dubai for our first Expatriate experience.
What I’m not going to tell you?
I am not going to bore you with a 10-year story of the amount of time and energy I wasted crying in pain and frustration over my back pain.
I certainly won’t tell you how many doctors, physio’s, osteopaths, chiropractors and surgeons I spoke to along the way. Or about the MRI scans and shocking results.
I don’t think it’s worth telling you about my extensive collection of gadgets and gismos to help relieve the pain. Or the Rolls Royce of lumbar back supports!
I couldn’t tell you about the medication even if I wanted to. I only remember the massive pills were either blue or red, depending on who prescribed them.
Or the horrific story about the time I had a spinal injection in Sri Lanka where the surgeon spoke on his mobile phone throughout the entire procedure.
It’s not worth me talking about how much anger I had against myself for the minor incident that started all this stupid back pain.
Let’s just start the story at the point of desperation…
When I hit rock bottom
During the 8 years we lived and worked in Dubai as Expatriates my back pain would mysteriously come and go. But every time it came back it was worse than the time before.
Looking back, I can see clear as day, that the big pain flare ups were always around the time of stressful events.
Big pain flare up meant sneaking off to an empty office, lying flat on the floor and allowing my back to decompress enough to ease the pain so that I could carry on the day.
At the time I didn’t feel stressed, no one pulled me aside because they were worried about my stress levels.
I would have described myself as a high achiever, able to juggle many responsibilities. But at the same time pissed off and frustrated that the pain stopped me from achieving more.
Living as an Expatriate is exciting but is also comes with stress, including making friends and navigating a new culture.
On top of this during our time abroad I landed a great full time job in a senior role, got engaged, planned a wedding in the UK, had two fantastic kids and bought a house.
I know many people go through these types of events but on reflection, I can see how the stress of each was magnified by the fact that we were living abroad.
The 3-part solution
There were 3 parts to my solution. It took time, curiosity and compassion for myself at each stage.
Part 1: Discovering the mind-body approach
The first part was discovering the mind-body approach to curing pain. In extremely basic terms this meant that my body had learned to have pain as a result of being constantly in the fight, flight or freeze mode.
My nervous system was in overdrive but this was my normal.
Despite what the Doctors and Specialists had told me and shown me on MRI scans, I first acknowledged that I could cure my own pain after reading Dr Sarno’s book ‘Healing Back Pain’.
After just a couple of chapters I was convinced that my personality type and symptoms were exactly in line with what he classed as TMS or Mind-body condition.
Learning how and why pain was showing up in my body was a game changer.
I could see clearly that even though my pain was excruciating it was also a learned response to pain which gave me the hope I needed to recover.
Part 2: Past, present and future stressors (unpacking the crap)
The second part of my healing was listing past, present and future situations that could have been stressful. Even if they didn’t feel stressful at the time they went on my list.
I then journaled every day for a month to release, let go and forgive any trapped emotions that had been building up.
Picking one event at a time felt really therapeutic. There were a couple of areas where I took myself as far as I could with journaling and then needed a little nudge from a coach.
As a coach myself I know that a good coach will ask the questions we would never dare to ask ourselves.
Part 3: Discovering my greatest strengths
And finally, I discovered the biggest contributing factor to the stress was my personality!
As a certified Gallup Strengths Coach, I had already taken the Clifton Strengths Assessment and knew my top 5 strengths were… Achiever, Activator, Discipline, Futuristic and Focus.
Although I had been aware of my strengths for years, I hadn’t considered how much my greatest strengths could also be acting as my biggest stressors keeping my body locked in the fight or flight mode and as a result causing me physical pain.
Having my top 5 strengths top of mind, I could easily see and understand why my strengths were being triggered by certain situations and people.
At 7.15pm every night I would have back pain. Why…? Because it was the kid’s bedtime. When I joined the dots, I realized that my “Achiever and Discipline” strengths just wanted to get the job of bedtime done and in a very structured way.
When the kids didn’t conform to my boring and strict routine, back pain would strike. I can see now it was to distract me from my real thoughts which were disappointment in myself for being a terrible mum.
Knowing my greatest strengths continues to help me today, long after the pain has gone.
These days I’m comfortable in my own skin and instead of fighting the world I’m in a state of flow. I’m able to ‘play to my strengths’ and far more in control of how I show up in the world.
These days I am living ‘100% pain free’ as an Expatriate.
When I’m not spending time with my family or with coaching clients I love to run, swim and bike and currently training for my next triathlon!
How I can help you?
After realizing the huge number people around the world who are in pain for no reason other than the fact they have not yet discovered the mind-body connection makes me crazy.
I work with clients who are living with stress, anxiety or chronic pain. Having gone through the journey myself I will guide you through one step at a time.
We start by discovering your greatest strengths and then explore practical ways to apply these strengths to reduce stress, anxiety and chronic pain.
Are you living with persistent stress, anxiety or chronic pain?
You say: “Yes I do… but this is not for me….my pain is real”.
I get it! My pain was real too. There were times it was so painful I wanted to rip my spine out.
Whether you have physical pain or a gut feeling that your stress may be heading this way, please do yourself a favor and contact me today at email@example.com
Find out today if your pain or symptoms could be curable by taking this free self assessment.
For more information send me a message, I’m always happy to hear from you firstname.lastname@example.org