Self-love matters in all kinds of ways, because it tells the Universe (and your brain!) that you are open to receiving.
Massaging a stressed shoulderBut it’s especially important if you’re stressed out about injury or chronic pain after an illness.
You could be forgiven for thinking I’m getting into crazy-bats territory here, but bear with me.
First, you need to wrap your head around an important concept we often forget.
Pain is your body’s way of expressing extreme self-love.
Remember, the pain experience is in your brain (not your body), and your brain gives it to you when IT – your brain – believes you’re at risk and there is some action to be taken.
If you’ve broken a leg or cut your hand, the brain assesses the situation and says “there’s risk of further damage; take the action of not walking on that leg or the action of binding up the hand”. Pain is a mechanism to get you to ease up while the awe-inspiring symphony of repair systems jumps into action. And that makes complete sense, right?
But if your injury was a long time ago – long enough that the damage has healed – and you’re still experiencing pain, that indicates that for some reason, your brain believes you are still at risk.
Why on earth would it do that?? You have a life to live, you can’t be sitting around nursing this pain forever! Grrrr!!!
It’s super easy to feel betrayed and angry if this is where you’re at. Believe me, I know (don’t ask my poor hubby how many temper tantrums he had to witness back in the days before I understood this stuff!).
But here’s the thing. Your brain makes the assessment of risk based on impulses it receives. These include physical impulses (such as trying to get back into your daily running routine on a freshly broken leg – not gonna happen); and – it turns out – what pain researchers call ‘thought viruses’.
The brain doesn’t distinguish between the two.
Anxious or angry thoughts such as “I’m fragile” or “I’m such an idiot” or even “they did this to me” can all increase the brain’s sense of risk, and add to levels of pain.
What does any of this have to do with self-love?
If your default thinking is self-critical, or self-doubting – if your inner dialogue expresses anxiety or frustration or anger at yourself (and that’s so easy to do post-injury or illness) – then your brain is experiencing a constant hum of those emotions. Can you see how that low hum of anxiety or anger is going to increase the brain’s overall sense of risk?
Self-love after an injury or illness is a perfect way to give the brain maximum support, especially if you can express it physically as a form of nurturing. What might that look like? Any or all of these are ways to express self-love:
Notice self-critical thoughts such as “I’m such an idiot” and replace them with thoughts of gentle compassion towards yourself
Notice self-doubting thoughts such as “I’ll never get better” and replace them with thoughts of how many miracles your body performs every day
Take action to heal old inner critical voices (my free e-book goes into details of how)
Introduce a self-loving practice such as Worthiness Magic
Let yourself off the hook for worry – drop doing everything perfectly (or even at the same level you normally would) and relax a little
Physical nurturing that YOU like – massage, self-massage, baths, hot showers, hot tea, nourishing food – ask your body what she wants and she’ll tell you
The more ways you can find to flow gentle, compassionate, kindness towards yourself, the more positive your brain will feel.
And that has to be a good thing.