How to deal with pain (or, at least: how I deal with pain)

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How to deal with pain (or, at least: how I deal with pain)

I have a had a lot of pain in my life.

Totaled up, I’ve had about 15 broken bones, well over a hundred stitches, 15-20 shoulder separations (both sides), and uncounted bruises, bumps, scrapes, and cuts from a lifetime playing ice hockey, soccer, volleyball, or pretty much any other sport, and lots of hiking, climbing, body-surfing, and general activity.

Two doctors have told me I have a high pain tolerance; I’ve had an ingrown toenail cut out of my big toe without anesthetic; I’ve refused morphine several times for medical procedures.

I’ve learned a little about pain.

Here’s how I’ve found to deal with it, and it’s the same way as I’ve found to deal with unpleasant temperatures, extreme physical discomfort when working out hard and lifting to exhaustion, and other challenges.

One word: dissociation.

I have no idea if this works for everyone, or even if it works for anyone else, but the strategy I use is to simply wall off the part of me that is experiencing the pain from another part of me that cares about it.

That might sound odd. Even weird. Maybe impossible.

But somehow — I can’t tell you how to do this, except to … just do it — I have been able to sever the link between the experience of a sensation and the component of my brain that decides whether or not it matters.

I still feel the pain. I still feel the discomfort. I just choose to stop caring about it. Not worry or fret about it, or get angry about it.

I really doubt this works for long-term or chronic pain. I don’t have a lot of that, although I’ve had very bad neck pain for months on end.

But it does work, for me, with short-term injury-caused pain.

I hope it helps for you!