• Heather Swift

Why am I in pain when the doctor says there is nothing physically wrong?

Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash

Emotional wounds can be hidden from our conscious memory, especially if it was earlier than the age of 7. Obviously the younger we were the harder it is to discover, accept and address the hurt. Healing the wounds can take many years. I’ve been using a range of recovery tools over the last 15 years, and spiritual awareness for 35 years and still new things are being revealed.

How can thoughts and emotions cause our bodies to be in a state of chronic pain and fatigue?

Some psychological theories say our mind has 2 parts, the reasonable mind and the emotional mind; the two mind states combined create a 3rd part the wise mind. The reasonable mind is logical, fact based, rational, plans and organises; the reasonable mind comes from the reptilian part of the brain, the oldest part of our mind. It tries to make sense of things using memories of people, places and things. The emotional mind is automatic and instinctive, it affects our motivation, emotion, learning, and memory. It responds to danger and distress with negative coping strategies, we become reactive, impulsive, irrational and blinkered.

Our thoughts and unexpressed emotions cause a number of hormones to be released into the physical body and it can lead to a chemical explosion, sending us into distress. The emotional mind takes over and we respond with fight, flight or freeze. Our brain goes into a state of hyper arousal, constantly looking for danger.

When we have something distressing happens, either real or imagined, instinctively our brain choses whether we get into a fight, do a runner or do nothing. Our reasonable, logical brain can tell us to fight, scream or run but our emotional, instinctive brain controls our body and we freeze, our arms and legs don’t work and our voice doesn’t work.

Our survival instinct depends on the love and care of others, if nobody is there to protect us our instinctive brain recognises a predator and puts in to freeze like a slower, weaker animal. If someone we care about or loves causes us distress we are less likely to fight or run away from them. We go into freeze. Long term, complex trauma can keep us in this state and our muscles become stuck. Because we are unable to make sense of what happened and put it in the past we end up reliving the feelings over and over again.

Our emotional brain struggles to make sense of what happened and tries to protect us, thinking we have done something wrong it tries to find ways to stop it happening again. Guilt and shame can become a negative coping strategy. When we are in freeze our body holds that state in its memory. Short term survival can cause long-term harm.

I’m a fighter but when I’ve been in some situations I have frozen. Sometimes it has made the situation easier to control but in the long run it has been harder to heal. Rebuilding our lives is hard, but with support we can do it.

Heather Swift

#pain #trauma #recovery #abuse #neglect #fight #flight #freeze #3brains

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