Chronic pain is no fun, needless to say. But you know what makes it even worse? The self-blame that we so often heap on ourselves when we’re experiencing symptoms. So I want to take a moment to remind you of this simple truth:
Symptoms are not the result of a moral, spiritual or personal failing. And just like cats and dogs are not to blame when they experience pain and other symptoms, you are not to blame either.
Blaming ourselves for having chronic pain is a very common roadblock to healing. And before you start blaming yourself for blaming yourself , consider this…
There are a variety of reasons why we tend to fall into the self-blame habit:
👉 Maybe others have blamed us for having chronic pain, and we’ve internalized the blame.
👉 Maybe self-blame is a misguided attempt to feel empowered: If we are to blame, then we’re in control.
👉 Maybe our culture, schooling, religion or political leaders have taught us to believe that when we suffer, it’s the result of a moral failing.
Whatever the reason we fall into the self-blame habit, there’s one thing for certain:
Self-blame is a roadblock to healing.
Pain is a danger signal created in the brain when the nervous system feels unsafe.
And when we blame ourselves for being in pain, we amplify feelings of un-safety. It’s like kicking yourself when you’re already down. It’s like yelling at a kid when they’re already crying. It ramps up feelings of distress and fear — exactly the feelings that trigger pain to begin with.
SO, are you willing to give up self-blame and empower your healing by nurturing feelings of safety?
If self-blame has been a long-time habit, it may take some time, practice and patience to shift into a new habit.
However, it may not be as impossible as you think. If you can roll-play self-acceptance, that means you have the ability somewhere inside of you already.
Here’s an exercise you can try out to practice what a new habit might feel like:
Imagine yourself five years into the future. And from the voice of your imagined future self, complete this sentence with pen and paper ✍️:
“Ever since I gave up self-blame and embraced tenderness and kindness toward myself, this is what life’s been like… “
And see what flows onto the page 📄.
Oh, and one more thing…
Chronic pain is NOT your fault.