Recognize The Pain Time Line

Pain perception is about how appraisal triggers arousal (emotional response) in your body. Deepak Chopra explains that cognitive appraisal in the brain arouses only two impulses—pain or pleasure.

We all want to avoid pain and experience pleasure.  Therefore, all the complicated emotional states we find ourselves in are because we are unable to obey these basic drives. [1]

Pleasure seems to be managed well by most people and is a non-problem status. Pain though is any unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.  Acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the autonomic nervous system to alert you to a possible injury.  Chronic pain refers to discomfort relating to injury, disease or emotional distress. Chronic pain persists and may exist in the absence of any past physical injury or body damage.

Examples of chronic pain include; arthritis pain, cancer pain, headache, lower back (coccyx) pain, and pain from damage to the central nervous system itself.

Pain felt in the body can be depicted on a pain time-line.


Although pain affects your body’s responsiveness, its overall impact on you lies within you. Your perceptions therefore, are crucial in pain management.

All pain is felt in the body in the present—today. You cannot physically feel something yesterday or tomorrow. You can remember the pain of the past or anticipate a pain in the future, but you can only feel pain in the present.

  • For example;

Where were you, what did you feel, and what you do when you first heard the news of the September 11, 2001 disaster in New York, USA—the October 12, 2002 bombing in Bali, Indonesia—the train bombing in Madrid, Spain on March 11, 2004?  What did you feel over the next two to three days after each event?  Did your body feel normal?  What do you feel today when you recall those events?

All emotion is felt in the present at various levels of intensity; low, medium and high. Each time you experience a negative emotion—such as a hurt in the present, anger or resentment from a memory of the past, or fear and anxiety from perceived pain in the future—you are adding to your store of stress. The stronger (higher the intensity) you feel an emotion in your body, the greater the amount of stress and adrenalin that accumulates in your body.

Deepak Chopra explains the cycle of emotions that begins in the present (reality)—where only pain and pleasure are felt—and ends in complex emotions centered exclusively in the past, such as, guilt and depression (our perceived reality).

The cycle that gets repeated countless times in everyone’s life is as follows:

  • Pain in the present is experienced as hurt.
  • Pain in the past is remembered as anger.  Anger starts with an internal or external event and is the subjective experience of physiological arousal (stress response) to negative appraisal of the event.
  • Pain in the future is perceived as anxiety—a lessening of mental relaxation, associated to the alert reaction.  Fear, and its manifestation, anxiety, is a painful emotion caused by impending danger or an evil event—a state of alarm, dread of something, or anxiety (extreme worry) over life changes.
  • Unexpressed anger—redirected against you and held within—is called guilt.
  • The depletion of energy that occurs when anger is redirected inward creates depression (Principle 62).

The cycle of emotion tells us that stored hurt is something we all have experience of to some degree, and is responsible for considerable adrenalin arousal. Chopra argues that, “Buried hurt disguises itself as anger, anxiety, guilt, and depression.” To live in the present we need to learn to avoid the easy emotion—anger, and deal with the hurt that is more difficult to confront.  Unresolved anger will only grow worse, feeding on itself.

Sometimes you can cause another person pain by what you do or say. This external event may be intentional or unintentional, and may also create a pain for you; guilt, remorse, shame, and regret—that is, stress. For example, people who use ineffective communication (Principle 39) often drag up “history” in arguments to hurt their partner. Their perception is that their partner has hurt them or is “blaming” them in some way. They are using a conditioned response, to ease their own pain felt in the present—not realizing the physiological impact their behavior is having on their own body.

Pain is communicated to others through language, posture, withdrawal, and abuse, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In an integrated model of the cognitive, affective, and physiological aspects of emotion, pain is manifested as negative emotion (accumulated stress) and can lead to nervous illness.

[1]        Chopra, D 1993, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, New York, Harmony Books, p. 186.

How Do You Deal With Your Emotions?

Emotions are bodily signals that alert you to changes in your internal or external environment. Emotions are feelings with thoughts attached to them.

Your interpretation or appraisal of your feeling in your body gives rise to an emotion. This is what I describe as EAR—Identity: Event—Appraisal—Response. Each event in your life is appraised in the GAP between event and response. Positive appraisals are a non-problem status—Emotion is regarded as “normal”. Negative interpretations cause your body to experience nervous arousal—emotional constipation!

You react to negative emotion somewhere along a “pain time-line”, where anger is at one end and anxiety at the other. If you have an avoidant emotional style you will feel more anxiety, fear and bewilderment than most people. If you have a reactive emotional style you will feel predominantly emotions of anger, frustration and resentment.

At either end of the “pain time-line” you will experience severe nervous arousal (adrenalin floods) which will promote ruminating over thoughts, worrying incessantly, avoiding situations and people that give you pain or reacting in a way that impacts adversely on others.

Dr. Robert L. Leahy of The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy has given us a schema of how our emotions can lead us down different paths. How do you deal with your emotions? Are they a non-problem status for you or do you ruminate over things or perhaps binge drink to deal with bad feelings? Please comment below.


Building Leadership For Health

Dr. Peter Salovey, Yale University Provost, speaks at the 2010 Global Health Leadership Institute (GHLI) Conference, Building Leadership for Health held at Yale University. He extends an official University welcome and shares remarks on the psychology of leadership, drawing on his expertise in emotional intelligence and leadership.

If you’re thinking about becoming an Emotional Leader, then you need to understand your emotional leadership habits will be very different to what you’re accustomed to using. This is pretty much guaranteed for people who have adopted conditioned responses to events.

Make sure you check out this website on a frequent basis to see all of the new additions to Emotional Leadership.

For research on emotional intelligence, click here.

Anthony Galie on Programming Yourself for Success

Anthony Galie has been motivating people for more than 30 years and is an expert on teaching others how to achieve even the loftiest of goals. Anthony believes that a person can purposefully rewire their subconscious mind for success. Watch this video to hear Galie discuss some great ways you can program yourself to succeed.

Did you learn anything from this video? Did this speech motivate you to strive for greater success? Do you use any of the methods Galie promotes? After watching the video be sure to share your comments below.

The Divided Brain

A sustainable emotional health solution is vital to human wellness, workplace productivity, and a healthier lifestyle. Never have the prospects been better. People are enthusiastic about the shift to emotional wealth and its potential to eliminate exposure to surges in negative emotion, reduce the impact of stress felt in the body, foster new personal development opportunities and improve one’s quality of life. Corporations are increasingly supportive as they look to strengthen emotional skills and revitalize individual and organizational performance.

In his recent video – The Divided Brain – Psychiatrist, Iain McGilchrist, challenges the notion that the left hemisphere of the brain is all knowing. He asks that we question the left hemisphere talk, which is convincing, and reduce the need to control everything. The right hemisphere doesn’t have a voice and can’t construct all the arguments of the brain’s left hemisphere. He draws us back to what the right hemisphere, the seat of emotion and empathy, knows to a broader context and reminds us that the intuitive mind (the right hemisphere) is a sacred gift.

Working so much with the brain, as I do in my ELPro coaching model, this video offers a refreshing perspective on how the ‘right’ side of the brain – or the emotion side – is so often subsumed as the “poor cousin” of the left. In reality, emotion is the force of real life! What do you think? Please add your comments below.