Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Why Do We Keep Returning to Pain?

(This blog was originally posted on August 4, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas
as in escaping from old ones.” – J. M. Keynes

Many years ago, an aerobics teacher commented to my class that the discomfort of childbirth is the only kind of natural, “healthy” pain we should experience. Every other kind or source indicates that something is very wrong in the body and should receive immediate attention. This warning is also true of emotional pain—or, it certainly should be—but it is so often disregarded or even intentionally ignored to return to the source or cause of that pain. Why?
When I explain “Theory of Mind,” I often use the example of how individuals frequently return to an abusive romantic partner to explain how even a painful experience can be associated with the familiarity of what is known. From very early childhood we are taught to associate physical pain and discomfort as negative, bad, something to be avoided or fixed right away. Conversely, in an effort to avoid conflict or even a physical altercation we repeat the mantra, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” We are encouraged to ignore the verbal slights and barbs and do whatever is necessary to maintain peace in the environment. (This model also applies in a physically abusive relationship.) We learn to look the other way or look for the good, positive attributes once attracted us to him or her and enter the relationship. Over time, every time we repeat this behavior and return to the source of the pain, we are actually reinforcing the subconscious known which provides that temporary comfort of familiarity in the relationship.
As Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas, Ph.D. explained, we are all subconsciously motivated to maintain and/or restore a known physical and emotional status of comfort and security. Since the subconscious mind is motivated and even programmed to seek this comfort, we naturally, repeatedly gravitate toward the source of that comfortable, secure state until something or someone is available to replace that familiar stimulus. In some respects this response can be likened to addictive behaviors: Every positive gesture or response the person receives is an emotional reward that literally lights up the pleasure areas of the brain. However, when the response is negative—hurtful or even abusive—the subconscious association of familiarity in this situation knowing that it will likely turn around again is equally if not more powerful. No matter how frustrating and even humiliating the “pain” of that rejection is, the lingering hope that the situation will turn around and the negative behavior will actually change keeps us toughing out the temporary pain, luring us back.
Fortunately, hypnotherapy and guided imagery can help you change this behavior pattern by replacing and rewriting the subconscious mental script that has been keeping you in this pattern for so long. A hypnotherapeutic process called de-loving is also extremely effective to help dissolve the subconscious associations to the feelings and emotions that you carry for the other person and/or relationship. Instead of erasing any memories of the other person or situation, however, de-loving helps you return to a neutral and even indifferent attitude that enables you to focus on yourself, personal goals and other (more) important areas of your life.
For more information about this topic and to set up an appointment with me, call or send a text to (661) 433-9430 or send an e-mail to me at

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
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