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Change requires action. Most of us have become experts at psyching ourselves out yet we hardly even realize when or how it’s happening.

Following is a partial list of various mental states that lead to paralysis, inaction and delayed healing:

1. THE COMPLAINING GAME - Complaining is so much easier than creating and executing an action plan for retraining back pain.

THE OVERRIDE: You’re just not allowed to complain anymore. New game: Each time you’re about to complain, focus on something positive and growth-inspiring instead.

2. THE GUILT GUTTER - You know you should be moving more or eating better to help your recovery but when you don’t, you find yourself in the “Guilt Gutter”, totally paralyzed.

THE OVERRIDE: Gratitude is a powerful antidote for guilt. Every morning, write down things you are grateful for. When you sense that you’re slipping into the Guilt Gutter again, summons your gratitude practice again.

3. FEAR OF SUCCESS - if you go after what you’re aiming for, everything changes and the stakes are higher.

THE OVERRIDE: Write down achievable goals and then write down how you are going to get there. Failing is part of life, when you fail, just begin again.

4. LOW TOLERANCE - If you’ve been experiencing chronic pain for several months or longer, your tolerance for discomfort has been compromised. You may avoid going places and doing things, just to avoid the added stimuli.

THE OVERRIDE: Schedule one activity, outing or new exercise to do this week. Put it in your calendar with a reminder.

5. OVERWHELM - Everyone wants to tell you what worked for their back pain. They mean well, but so many unsolicited opinions about “what you need to do” are overwhelming.

THE OVERRIDE: Overwhelm occurs when you’re feeling like there are too many things to do and you don’t know where to start. Choose one action item that resonates for you and focus on it before moving on the the next greatest suggestion.

6. PERFECTIONISM - If you’re setting unrealistic or overzealous goals, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. When it comes to retraining back pain, less is more and consistency is king.

THE OVERRIDE: Set small, achievable goals before adding on. If you miss a day, forgive yourself and move on.

7. CAN’TISM - You’ve convinced yourself that you can’t do the thing before you’ve even tried.

THE OVERRIDE: No more “I can’t” . You are no longer allowed to utter these words.

8. SHOULDISM - Like “Can’tism”: Feeling like you “should” be doing something different (or more or better) is telling yourself that you’re failing. What a buzzkill.

THE OVERRIDE: Change the dialog. Instead of “I should’ve left earlier!” Rephrase it more positively: “Next time I’ll begin an hour earlier so I have more time”


9. LOSER-LABELLING - Once you’ve labelled yourself a loser, it sticks. Get rid of the negative self-talk, including calling yourself (and others) names. Examples are: “I’m a procrastinator”, “I’m so out of shape”, “I’m too lazy”, etc.

THE OVERRIDE: Even if it feels weird at first, write down a few positive names for yourself. Examples: “I’m Wonder Woman”, “I’m powerful”, “I’ve got this”, etc.


10. FRUSTRATION FAILURE - You expect things to come easily. When obstacles or setbacks occur, you panic, get angry and/or give up.

THE OVERRIDE: Make a list of all the possible solutions, as crazy as they may be. This reminds us that there’s “more than one way” and we’ll be fine even when things don’t work out according to plan.