Chronic Pain Triggers Are Opportunities For Healing

ain is a danger signal created by the nervous system when it feels unsafe.

Sometimes, the danger is physical — like a broken bone.

But when pain is chronic, it’s likely that the danger signal has been triggered by emotional stress.

Below is a list of 7 types of emotional stress that can trigger chronic pain — and how to use these triggers as opportunities for healing.

1. Fear of Pain Itself

To de-escalate this fear, read up on the science of neuroplastic pain and practice somatic tracking as described in the book The Way Out by Alan Gordon.


👉 the book Unlearn Your Pain by Howard Schubiner is a great read on neuroplastic pain⁠

⁠ 👉 the Curable app teaches you about neuroplastic pain and somatic tracking as well.⁠

⁠ 👉here’s a handy flip-through infographic with some tips for reducing fear of pain.

2. Conditioned Association

When the nervous system codes something benign (like sitting or rainy weather) as “dangerous,” it becomes a pain trigger. We need to reassure our nervous system that sitting and rain are not dangerous.


👉 the resources listed above are great for this too.⁠

3. Stressful Situation

To de-escalate this fear, address the stress! Assert healthy boundaries with people, places and things that create stress in your life.


👉 the book Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg offers helpful strategies to effectively navigate conflict and set boundaries.⁠

4. Past Trauma

When present day triggers bring up body memories of past stress and trauma, we need to uncouple the present from the past. Therapy can be helpful!


👉 check out the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk and consider enlisting the support of a therapist.⁠

5. Emotional Invalidation

When our stresses and traumas are not acknowledged and empathized with by our community, we need to seek out people or groups that can and will acknowledge and empathize.


👉 support groups and books that reflect your own experience can offer wonderful opportunities for healing.⁠

👉here’s a handy flip-through infographic on understanding and healing from emotional invalidation.

6. Negative Self-Talk

Self-criticism puts our nervous system on edge. Replace self-rejection with loving self-talk. Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life offers how-to guidance.


👉 the book The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden⁠

👉 the book You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay⁠

👉here’s a handy flip-through infographic on the effects of negative self-talk and its antidote, self-love.

7. Bottled-Up Emotions

Our nervous system gets overwhelmed by bottled-up emotions. We need to let them out regularly, like going to the bathroom! Emotionally expressive journaling is one great way to do this.


👉 My online course, Writing to Release Chronic Pain, will show you how to release tension and pain from your body and reconnect with your authentic self through expressive writing.⁠

👉 Nicole Sachs, who created the JournalSpeak method of expressive writing, has many wonderful resources on her website⁠.

👉 here’s a handy infographic on the relationship between bottled-up emotions and chronic pain.


👉 When I get a twinge or a flare, I ask myself which of these 7 triggers might be at play (here’s a flip-through infographic to remind you) and what I can do to ease my fear.

👉If I can’t figure it out right away, I STOP trying to figure it out. And I ask myself this instead: “What’s the kindest thing I can do for my body right now?” Almost always, the answer is: “slow down.” 💖

Sending warmth, support and encouragement your way,



Medika Life has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Medika Life

Anna Holtzman
Anna Holtzman
Anna Holtzman is a chronic pain recovery therapist and coach based in New York City.
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