Trying New Ways to Manage Pain


I never hated my trips to the dentist until the anesthetic injection didn’t work and I felt everything the dentist was doing as he relentlessly drilled my molar. We eventually figured out why the injection didn’t work and solved the problem. I have had numerous pain-free visits since then, yet each time I’m in that chair my mind is anticipating impending doom.

The last time I went to the dentist, I decided to try a different approach. Instead of sitting in the chair anxiously awaiting all the things that might go wrong, I decided to “zoom out” in my mind. I watched my thoughts and reactions, just to see what would happen. I found that each time I thought I might experience pain, I tensed my jaw, tightened my fists, my heart raced and I made myself uncomfortable. The dentist wasn’t causing any pain in that moment, so the only thing making me uncomfortable was my reaction to my thoughts of “This is going to hurt. Get me out of here!”. I tried refocusing my attention, bringing myself into the present moment. If there was no pain, I didn’t need to be bracing myself for it. If there was a little pain, I was able to be with it in the moment instead of feeling it and then painting a worst-case scenario about how much longer it would last and if it might get worse.

Continue reading “Trying New Ways to Manage Pain”