Have you ever had muscular pain and been told "its all in your head"? How could someone say that, when you are in pain - its real, isn't it? I once had an experience that made me think again.
Several years ago I was plagued with a sore neck and headaches. It was very stressful as I still had to work, and the headaches lasted for several days at a time.
I tried everything I could do to stop it, and yet the painful headaches and tension in the neck prevailed. This all changed when I started to learn about the effects "anchors" have on us in hypnotherapy.
An anchor is a strong emotional feeling connected with a part of the body which creates a response. Just like the smell of lavender reminds me of my Grandmother and triggers off happy memories.
I noticed that when I woke in the morning I didn't have a headache or neck pain for about a minute. Then I would sit up and start moving my head around, lift my shoulders up to my ears and generally check to see how my neck and shoulders were (the body) - all the while I was anxiously thinking about whether I would have a headache that day (strong feeling). This pattern of behaviour activated the anchor. Within a short period of time I would feel my neck muscles tighten and then the headache would come on. I would then think more about the headache and have more strong feelings (and words too!), reinforcing the anchor.
So this was a case of me activating an anchor (neck/head movement + strong emotional feeling) and boom, the mind says "I can give you that" and it automatically starts tightening up the muscles and bringing on a headache.
"Okay", I thought, "how do I stop this?" And therein lies the answer - I had to stop triggering off the pattern. A clever plan was put in place:
1. When I woke up I would immediately get up. I had to do a different morning routine.
2. I was NOT allowed to check my neck, lift my shoulders, or roll my head around and look for tension.
3. I was NOT allowed to think about headaches, neck pain, or anything related to it - at all.
4. If I was to think about this, I was to sing the Beatles song "All you need is love" to get my mind off those habitual thoughts, and to distract myself as soon as possible by getting on with something else.
Well much to my surprise, it worked!!! It took a few weeks to change some persistent habits, but it really worked. I celebrated when my head felt good and in the end, I completely forgot that I had had headaches at all.
I found out that whilst the pain might have been real, it started in my head.
Elayne Lane is a massage therapist and hypnotherapist. She specialises in relaxation massage and hypnotherapy. If you suspect your pain is related to an anchor - I can help you. Click here to get in touch.
Photo by Toralf Thomassen on Unsplash