Awareness Exercise

A guided exercise to overcome limiting beliefs and expectations about pain

The first step to overcoming limiting beliefs or expectations related to pain is to become aware of them – to notice them. This guided exercise aims to help you deepen your understanding of the expectations you hold about your own pain.

Part 1: Identifying when you expect pain

With that in mind, we invite you to consider the following questions to help you identify when you expect pain to occur or worsen:

  1. After which activities do you expect pain to occur or worsen? (e.g., exercise, travel, work, social outings)
  2. Does your pain worsen during specific types of weather, times of the year, days of the week, or times of day?

Reflect on these questions and note any patterns or triggers. Recognize that your brain learns through association, linking triggers with automatic responses to serve your needs. Pain works similarly: when the brain associates a stimulus with pain (or the expectation of pain), it perceives that stimulus as unsafe and increases pain in response.

Part 2: Identifying where you expect pain

Next, consider the following questions to help you identify where you expect pain to occur:

  1. Do you expect pain to occur in one specific area of your body?
  2. Do you expect pain in different body parts depending on your activities?

Many people experience pain in areas they injured long ago – not because the area is still physically weak or damaged, but because the brain has learned to be extra protective of these parts of the body. Our expectations and beliefs reinforce this over-protectiveness, encouraging the brain to remain on guard.

Part 3: Reflection and awareness

Over the coming days, we encourage you to reflect on the questions from Parts 1 and 2:

  1. When and where do you expect your pain to occur?
  2. How do your expectations of pain influence your experience of pain?

There's no need to pass judgment on any answers that arise. This exercise is simply about increasing awareness. Pay attention to when expectations arise and any thoughts, emotions, or pain that accompany them.