• Our default set of brain circuits is focused on survival and keeping us safe. So, negative circuits are reinforced throughout our lifetime and are deeply embedded in our brains.
  • It is normal and understandable to keep sharing your pain and problems with other people, which further reinforces it.
  • Solving chronic pain involves stimulating your brain to form new circuits (neuroplasticity) in the direction you choose.
  • A critical step in this healing journey is to stop discussing any aspect of your pain.

Acute pain is necessary for protection and signals danger. It is a powerful gift. But chronic pain is not helpful because the danger signals are no longer accurately connected to real threats.

With repetition these unpleasant disconnected circuits become permanently embedded in your brain and become progressively stronger. You’ll become highly skilled (genius) in feeling the pain. Any attention paid to these circuits reinforces them. It is understandable that you would want to discuss your misery with anyone who will listen. It has engulfed your life, you are miserable, it does feel better to vent, and you often develop a common bond with other people who are in chronic pain. You spend little time with enjoyable and creative experiences. What is this behavior doing to your pain circuits?

Research shows that belonging to a pain support group lessens your chances of healing.1 There is often a lot of mutual complaining about care, their families not paying enough attention, poor medical care, the doctors not listening and failed procedures. They are all legitimate complaints, and it is completely understandable why you want to share your troubles and get support. But from a neuroplasticity viewpoint, it is a disaster.



Keeping a pain diary has also been shown to also portend a worse prognosis, again for the same reason.2

Another way pain circuits are reinforced in by the endless search for a cure. Why wouldn’t you not seek a remedy for the distress, anxiety, and discomfort you are feeling?

Between discussing your pain and medical care, researching the Internet for a cure, seeking care, and implementing  recommended treatments, a significant percent of your consciousness is occupied by pain. Neuroplastic changes will be dictated by where you place your attention, and your pain circuits will be reinforced and become monstrous.



Social isolation

Another common occurrence in those who suffer from chronic pain is that you become socially isolated. This happens because pain makes it hard to socialize, and constantly complaining drives others away who could bring pleasure back into your life. Once you become socially isolated, you now have more time to ruminate on their pain. Additionally, being alone is a painful experience. Several studies have demonstrated that people who are socially isolated and those in chronic pain have similar parts of their brains activated.3 Basic science research has shown that loneliness and socially isolation are highly inflammatory by directly affecting the expression of your genetic code (DNA). The result is the production of “warrior” white blood cells that increases the pain and destroys tissues.4  Conversely, re-engaging with your family and friends in an enjoyable way is healing.

Just Stop

It requires a stepwise process to break out of this cycle. One necessary and absolute step is not discussing your pain or medical care with anyone, other than your health care providers. This is especially true for close family and friends.

However, most people don’t realize that mental pain is a bigger problem the physical pain and it creates the same physiological reactions in your body. So not sharing your pain means:

  • No complaining unless you do it directly to the person who can resolve the issue.
  • No giving unasked advice – especially to your partner or children
  • No criticism
  • No gossiping

This simple rule is not so simple. You will first realize how much of your life energy is being consumed by discussing it and since it is often such a deep behavioral pattern, it is difficult to change. Initially, you will fail often, but be persistent. Within a couple of weeks, you’ll notice many changes in the quality of your relationships. Why not be a source of joy? A significant part of the solution for your pain lies in stimulating your brain to change. What direction do you want it to go? You want to become a “genius” at not feeling pain.


It appears that almost any variation of chronic pain is solvable regardless of the duration and severity. Even phantom limb pain can resolve with reprogramming techniques. It does require focus and repetition. One comparison would be a virtual computer installed on your desktop and this new programming doesn’t have pain circuits.

Consider a virtuoso violinist or concert pianist. Their skill level borders on miraculous. But they have put in countless hours of practice to make their movements automatic. They did not spend time complaining about not being able to play well enough or not having enough time. They just did it and what happened? What we consider “muscle memory” is neurological. Your brain grows new cells, makes more complex connections, and you have a new skill set. You must practice what you want and not spend time on what you don’t.

Discussing your troubles and pain and doesn’t help you develop a healthy brain and in fact accomplishes the opposite of what you want. You are reinforcing the pain circuits – both mental and physical. That is why the recommendation of this article is simple – stop negativity – all of it.


  1. Friedberg F, et al. Do support groups help people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia? A comparison of active and inactive members. Jrn Rheum (2005); 32:2416-2420.
  2. Ferrari R and Deon Louw. “Effect of a pain diary use on recovery from acute whiplash injury: a cohort study.” Biomed & Biotechnol (2013); 14: 1049-1053.
  3. Eisenberger N, et al. “Does rejection hurt? An fMRI study of social exclusion.” Science (2003); 290
  4. Cole SW, et al. Social regulation of gene expression in human leucocytes. Genome Biology (2007); 8:R189. doi:10.186/gb-2007-8-9-r189







Not sharing your pain-Omega

Listen to the Back in Control Radio podcast The Role of the Family in Solving Chronic Pain


  1. Eisenberger N, et al. “Does rejection hurt? An fMRI study of social exclusion.” Science (2003); 290.
  2. Ferrari R and Deon Louw. “Effect of a pain diary use on recovery from acute whiplash injury: a cohort study.” Biomed & Biotechnol (2013); 14: 1049-1053.