INSIGHT OF THE WEEK
“Whatever chronic pain you suffer with, if you just listen to it, there’s no need for it to make that sound all over your body anymore.”
-Nicole Sachs, chronic pain coach
How to Eliminate Chronic Pain
In this episode of Resilience Radio, we explore:
- Nicole’s journey with severe back pain.
- How repressed emotions can trigger physical pain.
- The relationship between journaling and relieving chronic pain.
- About JournalSpeak and overcoming pain and fear.
- How to journal and what structures to use.
- How to cope with constant rejection.
Nicole Sachs is a chronic pain coach who helps her clients overcome their pain by using JournalSpeak. Listen as she and Kim Ades, President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching™, discuss the power of journaling and how to eliminate chronic pain.
Take a Listen!
How JournalSpeak Impacts Chronic Pain
Kim Ades: How can we deal with stressful situations and eliminate the headache?
Nicole Sachs: So here’s the miracle of it that is so closely aligned with your work, Kim; it’s the journaling. My first patient was myself with my own chronic pain recovery. I understood through working with Dr. Sarno and through reading his work that I needed a way to safely feel my feelings and to really just get all that sludge up from down there that had been repressed and to bring it to light.
And what’s so interesting is people think that if they think about dark things, they’re going to feel worse, but when you unmask the truth about the things that you’re frightened of, oftentimes, like we tell children, it just evaporates away. You look your fear in the face and it stops being as scary and as ugly as it was.
The process I teach people is called JournalSpeak, and it’s a specific journaling practice, to bring these repressed emotions to your conscious mind safely and kindly and lovingly and with compassion, and once they’re there, the predator is no longer seen as predator, because the predator was the repressed emotions that were unexplained and unseen. Once they’re seen and revealed through what they are, you’re safe to go anywhere.
People in my practice don’t need to change one thing in their lives. They don’t go anywhere differently, they don’t stop seeing people, they don’t have pain because they have expressed and understood their repressed emotions.
Kim Ades: So you’re saying the predator is the emotion that is repressed, it’s not the sister-in-law or mother-in-law who’s criticizing you?
Nicole Sachs: Correct.
Kim Ades: Tell me more about JournalSpeak. What is that? How is that different from any other type of journaling?
Nicole Sachs: So if we’re going back to my story, when I first realized that I needed to do this work and do it really hard, it’s kind of skipping forward, but I healed my chronic pain through my understanding of this. I went on to do the things I was never supposed to do – I had two children, I was married, I had my graduate degree, I had my MSW, I was living in a house in the suburbs and I had all the things I’ve ever “dreamed of.”
And at that point, I had another acute pain incident, and what was really troubling is that I thought, well, now, this is real. All that Sarno knowledge that I had from reading the book in my 20’s went out the window and I spent another year in terrible, chronic pain.
I finally said enough is enough and I went to see Dr. Sarno in person. That’s when I really said I have to do this work and I have to do it for real. And he said you should journal, and I sat down and I said, I’m going to do this. I did it like I’m saving my own life, and it was.
Kim Ades: Are you saying that before, you didn’t journal as rigorously? What was the change that took place?
Nicole Sachs: Well, to be really honest with you, when I first found out about it, it was enough. I didn’t journal at all. When I first found out about it, just the understanding that, wait a second, I’m not broken, it might be that my pain has found a weak spot in my structural abnormality, but it’s not because I’m broken. That knowledge and kind of the way it calmed me and relieved me was sort of enough. And I might have had like a little pain here and there, but it started to tell me my life wasn’t going to be this awful jail in which I sit.
And so that was enough for the first few years. But once I had the babies and I really got scared, that was when I had to do the program full-on and that’s when I started the journaling.
How JournalSpeak Works
Kim Ades: Tell me about the process of this journaling. You call it JournalSpeak. What is that about?
Nicole Sachs: I’ll tell you about the day JournalSpeak was born.
I was told to journal. Dr. Sarno passed away, by the way, a year-and-a-half ago at the age of 94. And he was a fantastic and amazing genius. But what he didn’t do very well is explain things, which is where I’ve kind of taken the baton from him. He didn’t explain exactly how to do it. He did say, “You should journal. Journal about your feelings 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon.” And I said, “OK.” I’ve always been a real type A, “A” student, perfectionist, which is part of the problem.
I sat down with my list, and the instructions were to make three lists; childhood, daily life and personality, and to just bullet out the things that you thought were potentially causing you to have fear, anxiety, rage, etc. You make these three lists and then you’re supposed to journal on them.
So I was sitting there doing my work, and I put “motherhood” at the top of the page. At the time, I had a two-year-old and a few-months-old. My two oldest are 22 months apart. I started journaling and I wrote, “I’m really tired. I have two babies in cribs and in diapers. This is hard for me.” And I had an epiphany at that moment. It was like a moment of grace.
I said, “I’m lying.” Of course, I wasn’t really lying because I did have two babies and I did have two cribs, but there was something in my story that I knew wasn’t going to be the truth that heals me, wasn’t going to get those repressed emotions and dig them up and get them out.
I took a breath and I wrote, “I hate being a mother.” And when I tell you that I’ve been the kind of kid that swaddled my stuffed animals since I was 10 years old, motherhood was my goal. Motherhood was the end-all and be-all of what I decided was going to be my happiness. But I wrote it, and I stared at the page and I knew that this is where I needed to go.
Kim Ades: Was that the truth?
Nicole Sachs: Well, what’s interesting about JournalSpeak is it doesn’t stay the truth. JournalSpeak is saying yes to that little five-year-old inside all of us who really just wants to be heard and who stopped having temper tantrums, but now she’s in a 35-year-old body and just has to repress every time she has a feeling that’s just a human visceral feeling. And that’s really what builds our reservoirs of rage and sadness and fear. And so I just let her talk.
Kim Ades:So you let her talk, and did you believe her? On any level, did you say, “Yes, this is actually my truth. I want to give up parenting. Let someone else take care of my kids. I want to go to Italy.”
Nicole Sachs: I mean, listen, I have five kids now and that would be nice, wouldn’t it? No, no, no.
Kim Ades:Another thing we have in common, by the way.
Nicole Sachs: You have five kids?
Kim Ades: Yeah.
Nicole Sachs: : Oh, we could talk about that in another podcast.
So this is what happens with JournalSpeak. And by the way, it’s the most beautiful, heart-opening thing I’ve ever done in my life. It does not stay dark. I said “I hate being a mother,” and then I let it rip. I will not repeat any of the profanity here, but you have to really give yourself permission to write how you feel. Things like, “I had the wrong baby,” because this is really being honest. My daughter was not the silly little fantasy that I had as a 10-year-old. She was difficult, she was opinionated and she looked like my ex-husband. He was my husband at the time.
Kim Ades: Another thing we have in common.
Nicole Sachs: Yeah. What I say often to my patients and when I speak all over the world is, if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? And my answer is, yes, it makes a sound. It thunders down every time, whether you’re listening or not.
So if you have these feelings inside you and you don’t have a vehicle to bring them to light, it’s going to make a sound in your migraines or in your back pain or in your irritable bowel or in your skin disorder. Whatever chronic pain you suffer with, if you’ll just listen to it, there’s no need for it to make that sound anymore all over your body.
So when I was doing my JournalSpeak, I said a lot of really ugly things. And then after I finished hating my kids, I started with I hate my parents. Now, this is all probably within 15 minutes. I hate my parents, they gave me such a difficult time when I was a kid, so of course I’m trying to heal my wounds with these kids, and then it morphed to I hate myself. Why was I such a naïve fool that I thought having babies was going to be this easy?
As soon as I was done with all that temper tantrum and screaming ugly, dark stuff, I felt my heart just spill out wide open and I realized I don’t hate my kids and I don’t hate my parents and I certainly don’t hate myself. I found compassion for everyone just by acceptance of what is. And that’s when I began to transform.
Chronic Pain and Journaling
At Frame of Mind Coaching™, we know that all of our results start with our thinking, and pain is no different. If you are experiencing pain, it begins with your mind, not your body. As such, we urge our clients to journal.
Want to learn more about how this works? Click the button below to try our journaling exercise and schedule your complimentary coaching call with a member of our team!