The pain register

In my training as a bowen therapist, we talk about the fact that our brains don’t register ‘no pain’. We are good at identifying pain but not the absence of it.

Sometimes a client will only realise days later that their headache is gone, or their backache has disappeared and will only recognise it when asked. And people are always so surprised when they realise they are not in pain. And then, then they appreciate it.

Think about it: when was the last time you woke up and your first thought was “Yippee! No headache today!”? Unless you are a chronic headache sufferer, in which case, you would probably notice it!, the chances are that doesn’t happen very often. Rather, we only notice it when we do have a headache.

We don’t register ‘no pain’.

I think we can be a bit like that in life. We are quick to register when we have been hurt by another person but somehow ‘forget’ all the times that person was there for us, effectively when they didn’t cause us pain. Much like a headache or sore back, it’s only the pain that draws our attention and not the absence of it.

What if we flipped that around and started recognising the times when people in our lives didn’t cause us pain, instead of focussing on the few times they hurt us? What if we started to register ‘no pain’?


6 thoughts on “The pain register

  1. I believe that because most “people” are not in pain very often there is no need to recognise pain as there are more important things for the body to consider, where as when there is a onset of pain we realise and recognise it more readily because it usually is when the body is trying to tell you that something is wrong. Therefore if we were to register no pain then it would be pointless because be having no pain means that the body is functioning correctly and other senses take over and become more aware of things that are more important.


    • Yes, of course, physical pain is important. Without it, we would never address any issue that is wrong in our bodies. My point is that if we took more notice of the times when the people around us aren’t causing us pain, rather than focussing on when they are, we might all be better off in our relationships, which is not to say that we don’t address the pain people cause when they do, rather I am alluding to our tendency as humans to focus on the negative and bypass the positive. Some people are only happy when they are unhappy and by looking for the good rather than the bad in people, we can live more satisfying lives.
      Thanks for dropping by and commenting 🙂


  2. We are sometimes wicked creatures…forgetting to say thank you for the small favors, or the big ones. And then when a person makes a mistake – jump on them with both feet. Depends on the mistake, though – intentional transgression or just a silly misstep? I can usually wake up with no pain, then I open my email! ha! Thank you, Susannah. You cause me no pain, and you do often lift me up!


    • Yes, I agree, we definitely need to take notice of some of the pain people cause us (and their intention or not) and address it.
      I like what you said about your emails…funny! And you are a person in which I definitely notice the ‘no pain’ 🙂


  3. I think your analogy is apt one regarding striving, too. If the road is difficult for an extended period, we forget to take note of how far we’ve come, to admire the view as we go forth. We’re so used to just lowering our head and slogging forward, clenched against the headwinds. Sometimes it’s a good idea to shake out the kinks, look about you, and say, “Ah, here I am. Look how far I’ve come.” To not just register but fully appreciate our freedom from pain in those moments. Good observation, Susannah!


    • Ah, yes, love it. I am a big believer in recognising our own growth and progress in the journey. Without sometimes looking back and seeing the distance we’ve covered, we can soon become discouraged and, like you said, just keep battling against the wind.
      Thanks for your thoughts, Vaughn, wonderful like always.


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