#498 – The Brain Pain Connection

Image courtesy of Marcelo Gerpe.

Image courtesy of Marcelo Gerpe.

Years ago, I kept a health journal, well, actually, it was more like an unhealth journal. I would chronicle every ache, twinge, pain, stab, etc. – you get the picture.

I stopped.

It’s also for the same reason that I don’t spend a lot of time discussing, blogging, or enumerating my pain and symptoms when I do have them. The reason – two words: neural pathways.

As you know, we learn from repetition. Whenever I studied for an exam, I would write out my notes as I spoke them aloud. When you use as many senses as possible, it helps to lay down the pavement for those neural pathways. (That reminds me of one of my French professor who was fond of repeating, often several times during each class, “Language learning is overlearning.” Somewhere in my brain is a pathway with a sign post marked Monsieur C. – French 1100. 🙂 ) I digress, however.

Thanks to brain plasticity, we develop or deepen our neural pathways through our experiences; either through formal education or in our everyday interactions. Habits, the things you do without thinking, are well-worn neural pathways – sometimes too well-worn – as in the case of the habits you wish to break.

I decided to stop looking for everything that was wrong with me; I no longer wished to travel that neural pathway. Instead, I have made it a lifelong goal to start looking for what is right. Usually on a nightly basis, I use a pretty journal and jot down five to ten things for which I am grateful. Granted, they are not all health-related, but the gratitude serves another purpose – it’s a great stress undresser when done with heart-activated techniques. I know what I’m looking for, and this is a good way to reinforce it. I find that I have fewer flare-ups, am better at pain management on the rare occasion that I do have them, and I feel emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually stronger and healthier.

I wrote this post to explain how I’ve chosen to move through my life with rheumatoid arthritis. We each learn to deal with our disease in our own way. You, your doctor and other health care professionals may use a different strategy for successfully helping you move through your life with rheumatoid arthritis. If so, would you care to share what works well for you.

Related post: The Painless Game.

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5 Comments to “#498 – The Brain Pain Connection”

  1. Wonderful post and reminder, Marianna. I’m a big fan of neural pathways; I feed them often. But, like you, have found it helps tremendously to feed the ones that love you most.

    Glad that you’re focusing on the pathways that are about what’s right with you. That should keep you busy for a long, long time! 😉

  2. Great post. My sister and I have a morning ritual that we both love. Every morning we text each other at least two things we liked about our previous day. We also share two goals for our day. I like sharing this information daily with her because I know she is my best friend and because it allows me early in the day to start thinking positive. Our minds have so much power, we just have to choose which direction we want the power to go.

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