Pain is a signal that something needs attention. As we age, we often we think that once something starts hurting it will continue to hurt – forever. This is not necessarily true. If you stub your toe the pain can be intense or acute but you know it will heal quite quickly. If you have an injury and the pain goes away briefly but keeps coming back, that is chronic pain and it may last months or years. Your attitude, belief and expectations directly impact the way you experience pain.

Any thought that you have sets off a physical and chemical reaction in your body. If you imagine biting into a lemon, your mouth automatically releases saliva to counter the acidity and you probably pucker your lips and make a funny face just thinking about it. Your mind and body influence each other. Where your mind goes, your body follows. Hypnosis can change your psychological and physical experience of pain.

I’ll want to know how you feel about the pain you are experiencing. I’ll ask if you have been to see a doctor or specialist about it. Is it ruling your life; do you believe that you can’t do anything about it? Or do you see it as a passing thing and get a sense that it won’t last long; you have control over it? The unconscious mind does not know the difference between real and perceived. Knowing this, in a hypnotic trance, we can cool a burning pain and still a pulsating one.

You can choose where to put your attention. For instance, if you stubbed your toe, you would most likely feel more pain if you just stood there and looked at it – but jumping up and down and screaming would be a good distraction. The pain would be diluted. The natural numbing and dissociation that happens when you enter hypnosis is extremely useful in pain management. Reframing how you think about the pain allows you to cope better too.