Your emotional patterns consist of the feelings you experience such as joy, peace, anxiety and/or depression while your mental patterns encapsulate the core beliefs and perceptions you have about yourself and others. Most of the time these beliefs are unconscious in nature, where you are completely unaware of them. They function as subconscious programs that are running in the background of your mind and influencing how you feel and behave.
It has been shown that your brain makes decisions and takes action before you are consciously aware of them. Therefore, your unconscious self primarily directs your thoughts, feelings and behavior. Furthermore, these perceptions can be connected to the physical pain patterns you may be experiencing.
A common self-limiting subconscious perception often found in chronic pain patterns is the underlying belief “I am not safe.” In his book The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk explains how trauma can negatively impact how you sense and perceive your physical body. A traumatic experience can cause you to lose your connection with your body and be hampered by a distorted representation of it in your mind. You may lose your true sense of where you are in space and your relationship with yourself and others. In other words, you can become “ungrounded.” We see many patients with chronic pain who indicate trauma in their history and exhibit a distorted sensory-motor perception of their body. Altering their beliefs about their potential for recovery increases the likelihood of positive results. Bruce Lipton clearly supports this in his scientifically-based book The Biology of Belief.
This phenomenon is supported within physical therapy’s evidence-based “Pain Science” paradigm. Research has shown how the brain can become overly sensitized to pain (referred to as central sensitization) with accompanying changes in the cortex that relate to how you perceive your body. Pain Science is primarily a conscious-based learning approach, meaning it provides a rational explanation for you to understand why you may hurt and be limited in function. This insight is an important first step in the healing process.
However, self-awareness alone may not provide enough of a stimulus for true changes to manifest within your mind-body complex. This may be because the essence of what creates self-limiting beliefs and emotional patterns is ultimately sourced at the subconscious level. It may require a different route and access point to create a true behavioral and perceptual shift. This is why we employ a combination of conscious and subconscious-based mind-body techniques to restore appropriate perception and connection between them.