I recently had a bizarre experience – at least it was bizarre to me – and I want to tell you what happened in case it will help you control pain better and suffer less…
I went to the dentist to have a cavity filled and I actually had it done with NO ANAESTHETIC!!!
Why is that bizarre?
Because I was one of those kids where people used to say, “You’re too sensitive.” (Or, more typically, “What’s wrong with you? You’re WAY too sensitive.” Gee, thanks. That really calms me down.)
My startle reflex was high – yes, I “over-reacted” to things that didn’t bother many other people. If someone touched me, I felt that touch coming even before it reached my physical body.
So, in the past, I was always ready to open my mouth wide when the dentist brought out the syringe full of happy juice. When it came to pain, my attitude was, “Just say NO and bring on the drugs.”
But this time was different.
Because I learned a strange and interesting concept while studying an online course developed by Bill Harris (who produced the Holosync® meditation technology.) This is going to take a minute to explain, so stay with me.
Harris talks about intensity and how we perceive that there’s “good” intensity, like an orgasm, and “bad” intensity, like IBS pain. But, he says, the reality is that intensity is just intensity. It’s your mind that decides whether it’s good or bad.
And when your mind gets going with the idea that something is intense in a bad way, it makes you very scared. Then not only do you feel the intensity but you SUFFER because you’re so focussed on how bad it is.
So, if I’d sat in the dentist’s chair, thinking, “This is going to hurt. OMG! This is REALLY going to hurt!” I would have quickly convinced myself that was true.
Then, when she started drilling, if I’d thought, “YEOW! She’s killing me. This is torture!”… it would have been. Excruciatingly so.
But this time, when the whining of the drill started, I found myself thinking, “Well, it’s just a sound. I don’t like it, but it’s only a sound.”
When the drill touched my tooth, I told myself, very clearly, inside my head, “This is intense. There’s a lot of intensity here. But it’s only intensity.”
I didn’t classify it as good or bad; I just observed it. And it didn’t actually hurt.
Well, it turned out the dentist had to drill a little deeper than she thought, so she asked me if she should go ahead without freezing. I told her to continue. Sure I felt a couple of twinges, but it wasn’t awful. In fact, it was way less pain than I’ve felt when one of the dogs has run into me when we’re out hiking. (Geez, where is that syringe when you really need it?)
And here’s the part I never expected. After the filling was done and I was leaving the office, I felt strong, powerful, EXHILARATED! And I had a great day. Who knew?
If she’d frozen me, I would have felt weird and spacey and probably have gone home to sleep afterwards.
So what does all this have to do with YOUR pain?
Just this: when you feel pain coming on, or you’re already feeling pain, try thinking of it as intensity. Not good, not bad, just intense. Like, “Wow, there’s a lot of intensity here. Oh boy, this is intense. It’s intense and it’ll pass.” Because, let’s face it, nothing lasts forever.
Maybe that sounds crazy to you, or just plain stupid, but I’ve done this little intensity technique at other times and it has always helped me. I don’t know why – maybe it distracts your mind from focussing on the pain itself? Maybe it distances you a bit from the pain, so it becomes more manageable? Maybe by re-defining pain as intensity, your mind stops fixating on how bad it could be?
I guess there are a lot of possible answers. All I know is, I haven’t taken a pain medication in years (I don’t react all that well to medication) so this little technique has been amazingly useful. It’s not going to get rid of your pain forever, but it does help to control it.
Anyway, try it and see. And leave me a comment.
BTW, I am NOT against anaesthesia or medication for pain control. There are many situations where they are totally necessary and appropriate. Even at the dentist’s…