Persistence Relationship

How and why persistence relationships negatively impact pain, health and wellbeing.

In contrast to avoidance relationships, persistence relationships are built on the idea that one must push through pain to function in daily life. There are two types of persistence relationships: cyclic persistence and continuous persistence. Both types can have negative consequences on physical and mental health, as they disregard the body's need for rest and recovery.

Cyclic persistence

The "All or Nothing" Approach

Cyclic persistence is characterized by taking advantage of periods when you feel good to catch up on tasks and chores, often leading to excessive activity and an "all or nothing" approach. This can trigger another pain flare, often worse than the previous one, requiring a period of rest and recovery.

Examples of cyclic persistence behavior include:

  1. Joe experiences chronic knee pain, but on days when his pain is manageable, he spends hours on home improvement projects. This overexertion ultimately causes his knee pain to flare up, leaving him unable to continue his projects for several days.
  2. Mary has fibromyalgia and feels overwhelmed by her daily responsibilities. On days when her pain is mild, she tries to complete all her household chores, run errands, and exercise, only to experience a severe pain flare that leaves her bedridden for days.

Continuous persistence

The "Pushing Through" Approach

Continuous persistence, or the "pushing through" approach, involves pushing oneself no matter the level of pain. This chronic overactivity serves as a continuous source of pain stimuli, triggering complex pain responses repeatedly.

Examples of continuous persistence behavior include:

  1. Lisa suffers from chronic back pain but refuses to take breaks or rest during her physically demanding job. She believes that if she pushes through the pain, she can eventually overcome it, but this approach only worsens her condition.
  2. Tim has persistent migraines but chooses to ignore his symptoms and continues working long hours at his computer. His refusal to rest and recover results in increased pain and more frequent migraines.

Negative consequences of persistence relationships

Both types of persistence relationships can lead to:

  1. Increased pain: Ignoring or pushing through pain can cause an increase in pain levels and frequency of pain flares.
  2. Aggravation of underlying conditions: Persistence relationships can worsen existing health conditions and make recovery more challenging.
  3. Mental health issues: The constant pressure to push through pain can lead to feelings of guilt, frustration, and helplessness, potentially contributing to anxiety and depression.
  4. Overreliance on medication: Persistent pain may lead to increased dependence on pain medications, which can have harmful side effects and mask the need for more effective pain management strategies.