Lisa is a 58 year old high-level professional who developed chronic neck pain about 5 years ago. It began around the time she was facing some major career challenges. The pain became severe enough that she couldn’t work. She came across the DOC project a couple of years ago, and began with the expressive writing, active meditation, not discussing her pain and worked on forgiveness.
However, although she had some improvement in her anxiety and mood, she wasn’t able to work past her pain. I had multiple conversations with her about letting go and moving forward, with or without her pain. She worked at it, but when you are as accomplished as she is, the pattern is to focus more on the strategies to “fix” yourself. Her attention was still on the problem–the pain. To stimulate neuroplastic changes in your brain, it is critical to move towards your vision.
She also engaged with several other approaches to work on allowing herself to feel and be with her pain (neck and anxiety) and not be as reactive. Again, she had some improvement and started to move forward. We discussed the nature of anxiety as being a physiological response and not psychological. It was a big step for her. I happened to replay this podcast on anxiety and here is her letter.
I just had to let you know that I just finished listening to your podcast for the second time this morning and it was fantastic!! Anxiety is a Symptom Not a Diagnosis was full of so many amazing lightbulb moments for me. I finally get it. My constant worrying IS anxiety and that anxiety is fueling my pain. And there is NOTHING wrong with me. My body is working perfectly in response to constant elevated stress hormones. I just need to acknowledge my worries, sit with them, don’t try to change them, and CHOOSE to move on and learn a new language of creating the life I want. Wow! All these things never fit together for me until today.
I have been trying so hard to just stop worrying. I used to spend so much of my day trying to “stop worrying” and now I realize that that was just making things worse by increasing my stress hormones even more which in turn perpetuated and increased my pain. (adrenaline increases the speed of nerve conduction)
There was so much that I absolutely loved about the Podcast but I think my favorite thing you said was when you talked about your patients rediscovering their creativity. This is so exciting. I have always been a creative person and that has definitely not been the case over the past 3 years.
So, moving forward I am no longer going to “fight” with my worry/anxiety and just feel my feelings and change how I respond. As you said, this will lead to my worry/anxiety losing its power in my life.
I hope I got all of this right. Please feel free to correct anything I may have misinterpreted. And also, please feel free to recommend any post on your website that I should review. Thank you! Lisa
There are several points I would like to emphasize with her story. One of them is that I can never tell who will respond to these healing principles and when. You can’t fix yourself and you have to get out of your own way and allow healing to occur. It really is a letting go process, so you can move forward. When you are used to taking control and being in charge, it is more challenging.
Secondly, it is a common saying that, “knowledge is power.” There is a tendency to try to learn more and more about the healing principles and somehow that will solve the problem. Again, the focus is on the problem and not the vision of what you want your life to look like. Once you understand and learn the tools to move forward, it is critical to use them.Third, a major tool is play. Your body’s chemistry is optimal, your sense of well-being is improved, and your organs function better.
Finally, her phrase, “sit with my worries and not try to change them” is the essence of the solution. If you fight them, you are giving them neurological attention and reinforcing these circuits. This concept is illustrated by the “ring of fire”.
Her email is the fourth one I have received in the last couple of weeks from people that have been in pain for many years, have worked hard on the DOC project for over two years, and suddenly broke through. All of them said, “I have had enough. I am tired of it all and am just going to move on.”
Persistence in learning and using the tools is key. Letting go is even more important.