Pain, Logic & What Positive Thinking Really Is

Dear Audy,

I have felt so very lost lately. I have had a lot of adjusting to do, in most aspects of my daily life and well, that sort of adjusting takes up a lot of time and brainpower.

Symptom wise, I am not doing particularly well. My ability to function has been declining severely with the shifting of the seasons. I’ve had increased CRPS pain all over my body, with the lower regions of my limbs being the worst affected areas. My hands and feet have been putting on colourful displays with more frequency than I have seen before. The flares aren’t really receding, just fluctuating about at different amounts of high-intensity.

Here is my hand being pretty after I determinedly walked the dogs earlier. This picture is unedited:


Centrally, my system is kind of flipping out. I’ve had an increase in general pain, specifically a burning/tingling sensation that seems to exist between my skin and my flesh. It’s everywhere, however it is notably more painful in my limbs than the rest of me. The sensation is particularly strong overnight and starts to rise immediately upon waking. Coping with it is a challenge that I must face every morning, sometimes several times a morning if it’s been a restless night.

It’s not easy you guys, it’s really not, but I’m doing it.

I don’t have a choice about the pain, but I can choose whether or not to cry and that’s a start. I can choose to keep training myself to not view physical pain is something that needs to upset me. This training, this militant monitoring of thoughts, is like exercising muscle. The more I practice the stronger I get. The stronger I get, the easier the practice. The easier I make the practice, the more I can progress towards healthier ways of thinking and perceiving.

Logic can be a great motivator, It’s the hardest thing in the world to argue with.

It’s really a good thing then I’ve been building up coping strength, because my nervous system is really ripping out the big guns this Spring… (I wish I was done describing symptoms)

Along with the aforementioned joys of CRPS, I have been having a lot of trouble with my jaw. The left side has hacked away at its joint socket so much over the last few years that my jaw doesn’t really fit into my face on that side anymore. This isn’t a big deal, until you factor in that all of the other symptom increases tend to exacerbate jaw tension and clenching, which leads to an increase in neck and shoulder pain, which leads to an increase in arm pain, which brings us back around to the first paragraph of Caf’s exciting symptoms.

So, um, there’s a nice little circle for you. It’s nice to notice things.

Separate to the pain side of things, I found myself faced with increased sensitivity to everything. Everything. Temperature, light, sound, scent, pressure, chemicals, even people. My body does this thing now where it forgets to stop cooling down at night. I start to get sleepy and go to bed and then just get colder and colder and shiver uncontrollably (and painfully) unless I have an external source of warmth, like a heatpack. Good times.

I react to all of the chemicals in everything. Food, cleaning products, hygiene products…everything. I keep getting nauseous and I’m not even sure what’s causing it; my diet is pretty clean these days. I even react to myself, apparently. I deduced this from the fact that the other day, having given up on deodorising at all, I still managed to score a new and exciting armpit rash. Good times.

It’s not easy you guys, it’s really not, but I’m doing it.

I’m coping.

Most of the time.

When all I can do is keep rearranging my thoughts to find a way that I can be okay with whatever’s going on, then that’s what I do. I have been trying ever so hard to resist the urge to vent and complain. I don’t want my brain practising those thought patterns. Every single time we go over something in our minds, we strengthen the thought patterns associated with that thing. I don’t want to strengthen the patterns that perceive my challenges as negative, powerful, or beyond my control.

Everything that we think or perceive is only possible because of patterns created by our brains and nervous systems. Every single thing. Thankfully, through focus and practice, these patterns can be changed. Permanency is just an illusion when it comes to the natural state of the healthy human body.

This is what positive thinking is: strengthening the thought patterns associated with not being upset.

It’s not a magical thing that takes all of your bads and makes them goods. Positive thinking is a process of redirecting thoughts through observation and attention.

In order to cope with everything that has been on my plate lately, I have had to remain acutely aware of what’s going on in my mind and whether it’s a thought pattern that is going to help or hinder me. This practice is especially important on both ends of my physical pain management strategies. I need to be able to get past any negative thinking patterns in order to get motivated to move through the pain and I also need to be able to keep my mind as peaceful as possible if I have exhausted all of my management strategies to no obvious benefit.

Most of the time, stuff helps, but sometimes the sky has other plans for me.

The actual sky, not the metaphorical kind. A lot of the challenges that I’ve been dealing with are the result of my body not coping with changes in weather.

I need my mind to cope even though my body can’t. Positive thinking is as simple as that, really. I’ve read a lot of lamentations from people living with chronic pain who are tired of being told to think positively because doing so will not take away their physical pain. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t, but that’s really not what it’s about.

Positive thinking is about coping, not cure. If I have to be in pain, then I’d rather be in pain and at peace than in pain and depressed.

Logic can be a great motivator, It’s the hardest thing in the world to argue with.

Love & Pressing On,



4 thoughts on “Pain, Logic & What Positive Thinking Really Is

  1. Melissa

    Your last paragraph that is in bold really stuck with me.its the same thoughts iv been trained to think, otherwise il end up in pain and depressed….

  2. Sarah Bellany

    You are so inspiring Rella. I love reading your blog, I wish you had easier days at the moment, but hey you deserve a gold medal for coping skills.

    (0)===== <– that's a gold (cyber) medal


    1. Hayley Cafarella Post author

      Thanks so much, Sarah! I fell so far into the black that I couldn’t handle replies for a long time. I just wanted to tell you how much your comment made me smile, cyber medals rule! I hope that health and things are being kind to you xx

  3. Tracey

    Sorry to hear your symptoms have been playing such havoc on your body … though your attitude is always incredibly focussed on a positive way forward, a true demonstration of your vast inner strength methinks.

    Take care. xx

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