How to Ignore Pain and Feelings

Three Parts:Handling Physical PainAdjusting Your MindsetAdding Positives To Your Life

There are times when emotions must be pushed aside in order to get through a difficult situation. No one will forget the Olympic games when a gymnast chose to perform after she sprained her ankle as a way to support her team. While it’s not advisable to live your life in a state of repressed pain and emotions, it is okay to practice pain management in order to get through a difficult situation. You may not be able to completely ignore pain or feelings, but you can learn to re-focus your pain and emotions to be less negative.

Part 1
Handling Physical Pain

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    Use guided imagery. This technique helps relax the mind and the body.[1] Imagine being somewhere you enjoy (a beach, on top of a mountain, surrounded by trees in the rainforest) and make the image in your mind as real as possible. Smell the air, observe your surroundings, and imagine planting your feet on the ground. Imagine being there with your body in perfect health. Spend as much time as you like in this experience, allowing yourself be transported there mentally.
    • When using guided imagery, you are in control. If you experience incredible pain, allow yourself in your guided imagery to fly. You are able to create any scene you desire.
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    Engage your other senses. When you experience pain, your senses can be out of balance with the focus on feeling. Consciously engage your other senses: listen to the sounds around you (the cars outside, a neighbor cutting the grass); smell the air or spend extra time smelling your food observe your surroundings with your eyes; feel the texture of your clothes against your skin. Remind your body that it can experience different kinds of stimuli outside of pain.[2]
    • Engaging your senses during extreme moments of pain can help shift your focus and balance your senses.
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    Focus on the physical sensation. This may seem counter-intuitive, but try to identify what it is you are feeling. Is the sensation hot, cold, burning, dull, localized or general? You may begin to experience the pain less as a permanent experience but more a changing of sensation.[3] Be present with your experiences and in a state of observation.
    • By focusing on physical sensation and not on “pain”, you can change the way you experience these feelings.
    • Think of it as observing your body and not as experiencing pain. Changing your perception can help ease your mind and body from negative experiences. That way, it’ll be less likely to get stuck in the thought cycle, “I’m in so much pain.”
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    Fake feeling pain-free. The term “fake it til you make it” can even apply to pain. If in your mind you think things can only worse, don’t be surprised if you start to feel more pain. The more you believe you are capable of being pain-free, the more capable you will be.[4]
    • Say to yourself, “I am improving every day” and “I feel less and less pain.”
    • You can even say, “I do not experience the sensation of pain in my body” and “my body is functioning optimally.”
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    Be kind to your body. Remind yourself that your body isn’t turning against you, and that it is not purposefully hurting you. Treat your body with love, kindness, and respect, especially because it is in pain. Your body isn’t purposefully causing you to suffer.[5]
    • Express love toward your body by treating it kindly, getting proper rest, and eating healthy foods to aid in recovery.
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    Consult a pain specialist. You may want to consult with a pain specialist to address your chronic pain. Even if you prefer to “grin and bear it”, there may be non-prescriptive relief for the pain you experience, such as adjusting your posture or using a cushion or pillow.
    • Some pain may not go away, and in fact may get worse with time. Listen to your body and seek medical intervention when necessary.

Part 2
Adjusting Your Mindset

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    Observe your thoughts. When experiencing pain, you may find yourself thinking, “this will never go away” or “I can’t endure this.”When you have these thoughts, you allow yourself to experience the emotional reactions that accompany these thoughts, such as feeling bad for yourself, uncomfortable, angry, or fearful.[6] Practice re-programming your thoughts, and find that your emotions begin to change, too.
    • When you catch yourself in a negative thought, think of a different thought to replace it. Instead of thinking, “I am so miserable” think, “I am improving each day.”
    • Instead of thinking, “The pain is unbearable”, think, “ I can handle this pain and focus my mind elsewhere.”
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    Shift your attention. It’s easy to focus on what hurts, but choose to focus your attention to a part of your body that is fully functioning and healthy. Perhaps you observe your hands and fingers moving effortlessly, or wiggle your toes. Relax as you observe and feel these sensations, allowing them to the the dominant sensation you feel in your body. Even if pain feels overwhelming, this can remind you that your whole body is not in pain.[7]
    • You can even focus on the sensation of blinking your eyelids, how effortless it feels and how your body monitors this action on its own most of the time.
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    Choose not to suffer. Suffering is a mindset based on reliving the past, blaming others, or telling yourself that you are miserable.[8] Remember that suffering is relative and based on an emotional experience, not physical surroundings. While you cannot choose to experience a pain-free life, you can choose how you respond to the pain.
    • Instead of thinking, “I have the worst luck ever”, say, “I’ didn’t chose this, but I will accept this situation and not feel bad for myself.”
    • Create a practice or a ritual that allows you to practice not suffering. You may choose a mantra to say to yourself any time negative thoughts come up, such as “I choose to respond to physical sensation without having to suffer.”
    • We spend most of our lives thinking it’s okay to suffer, so give yourself time to adjust to this new mentality. Realize that your mindset may not change overnight, and there may be days you want to feel sorry for yourself.
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    Be positive. Thinking positively helps you to live a happier, more stress-free life.[9] Instead of focusing on the negatives in your life, focus on all that is positive. Focus on your recovery, the positive gains you are making, and the care you are receiving.
    • Don’t get trapped in polarized thinking, or seeing things as “all good” or “all bad”.[10] if you blame yourself for your pain or for making bad decisions, remember that many factors influence each outcome. Allow yourself to say all sides, even the gray areas.
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    Choose acceptance. While you may not like your present situation, you can accept what is out of your control. You can’t, for example, take away your pain or injury, but you can accept its role in your reality. While acceptance isn’t an easy practice, it helps you to diffuse stress and live with more peace.[11]
    • When pain and difficult feelings arise, take some deep breaths and say, “I do not enjoy what I am experiencing, but I accept that it is part of my life right now.”

Part 3
Adding Positives To Your Life

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    Focus on happiness. Don’t spend your time thinking about what you’re missing out on, or what you could be doing if you weren’t in pain. Instead, focus on adding happiness to your life in this moment. Happiness is often found in the little things, or when you “stop and smell the roses.”[12] When your spirits are low, look for happiness in the small things: a nice text from a friend, a warm cozy blanket to wrap up in, or sweet cat snuggles at home.
    • Do things that bring you joy such as coloring, drawing, dancing, or playing with your dog.
    • When you start to feel negative, engage in something that brings you pleasure, even if it’s just sipping a cup of tea.
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    Be grateful. You may find it difficult to find things to be grateful when you are in pain and feeling bad, but give it a shot. Gratefulness allows you to see beyond your current perceived negative experience and appreciate life from a wider vantage point.[13]
    • By being grateful, you can focus on more positive feelings and not on the pain or sad feelings.
    • Start a gratitude journal and write down the things you are grateful for each day. This can include having clean laundry, eating a delicious meal, or finding a sale on an item you really like.
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    Smile. Did you know that smiling has the ability to boost your mood? By smiling, you can start to increase feelings of happiness, just like happiness causes you to smile.[14] Even if you’re in pain and feel angry or upset, put a smile on your face and see if you start to experience the pain or negative emotions differently.
    • Connect with the sensations associated with smiling and start to feel happiness wash over you.
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    Laugh. Laughing relaxes your entire body, can improve your mood, and has mind and body benefits.[15] You don’t have to search too hard to find things to make you laugh: watch funny tv shows or video clips, invite good natured friends over for a game night, or read a funny book.
    • Everyone has a different sense of humor, so do things that make you laugh, whatever they may be.
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    Stay connected with friends. Don't isolate yourself in a time of need, reach out to your friends! Surround yourself with happy people that naturally maintain a positive attitude.[16] Choose to spend time with people who laugh easily, smile frequently, and whom you feel good when around.
    • If you are isolating, realize that isolation can contribute to feelings of depression. Contact with others is an important part of healthy living.[17]
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    Seek help. If you feel like your pain is too great to ignore or work through on your own, get some help. Whether the help you seek be seeing a therapist or talking to a friend, determine what would be most helpful for you.


  • Remember that emotions are present even if you pretend they are not, and they are a part of who you are.

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Categories: Pain Management and Recovery