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How can I balance my life and pain?

This page was last updated: March 25th, 2021

How can I balance my life and pain?

Sometimes it can feel like your life has been completely over taken by pain. It can be hard to find balance in any areas of life. Understanding how we work as humans can help us re address any imbalances. The Threat, Drive, Soothe model detailed below can help map out what is going on and be a step towards getting to know what may be helpful to balance life and pain.

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The three systems model (Gilbert, 2013) offers a framework for understanding how our brain gives rise to different feelings, desires and urges. It outlines three internal systems that govern our need for safety (‘threat’), motivation and activation (‘drive’) and connection (‘soothe’).

Thoughts, pain and life events can influence the systems and if the systems become out of balance our health and wellbeing is affected. If the ‘threat’ system is triggered this will quickly activate a response to prepare us for fight or flight, and stress hormones will be released into the body. If this system is activated by ongoing negative thoughts/stress/pain it can lead to over activation of this system and it and feel like you are always on ‘high alert’. Being on ‘high alert’ can intensify your experience of pain and the interactions of these systems can feel like a never ending downward spiral.

The key to increasing wellbeing is to learn ways to balance the systems. Often this means finding ways to soothe the part of this system and adopt ways to bring more feelings of peace and relaxation. Learning ways to relax and identify and address your needs can help ease your psychological pain which can ‘turn down’ your experience of physical pain.

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