Going there takes courage

Going there takes courage, commitment and curiosity…

…amongst other things. What am I talking about? Your pain points and what must happen to transform them and move on.

Your pain points could be a painful problem, a painful condition or another issue that means you are not living your best life. As a Pain Coach I am focused on giving you the best information that you need as a person to move on from pain to purpose. In many ways we are talking about leadership.

There are many facets to leadership. People have and continue to study what makes a great leader, including the seminal ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins. In this book, Collins looks at the data. What is it that really differentiates between good companies and great companies?

Others draw upon seemingly unrelated fields. I am a huge fan of this approach. We can learn so much this way, and be creative in how we apply principles. Cody Royle is notable in how he encourages the use of sporting team dynamics and leadership in the business world to gain advantage.

What has leadership to do with pain?

To truly address a pain problem is to face oneself. This requires certain decisions to be made, and often tough ones. It can be an uncomfortable ride at times.

Leaders make decisions. The quality of those decisions determine the quality of life of those impacted — the person and those close by. Here we are talking about the individual who leads him- or herself. In this way we are all leaders. We also lead others: family, friends, our children. As clinicians we lead by delivering the best quality advice and practical tools that the person can choose to use to improve their life.

Some may say that this is not the case. They may argue that the therapeutic relationship should be on a more equal footing, but the reality is that it is more like a dance. As with any relationship, there are ebbs and flows, and ups and downs. We roll with this in the best way that we can, which is a set of skills in itself (e.g./ resilience, outlook).

Think of any relationship. Both parties contribute and make decisions. In a healthy situations, these decisions benefit both in a compassionate togetherness. There are likely to be self-serving moments of course, but overall we aim to be heading in the same direction: a shared picture of success.

We seek to arrive at the trusted advisor status but this takes time and experience. Certainly at the beginning the clinician or therapist leads the person (patient) and this is why they have come. The person is motivated to learn, understand and take action that results in different outcomes: an improved life.

Deciding to go there

There are several steps to take when addressing a pain problem. You decide that you want different and better (life) outcomes. You commit to whatever it takes to achieve success. You clarify what success looks like and design the steps to take with the support and encouragement of an appropriate therapist. In the case of chronic, complex and persistent pain, there must be a strong coaching element in my opinion to enable this process.

This takes courage because we live in a society and a culture that largely speaking encourages quick fixes and short term solutions to meet complex needs. As humans we seem prone to go for these and to make them permissive choices over facing the real issue. There are no two ways about it. If you want to overcome your pain, you have to face the issues, take a fresh perspective and work to transform your experiences. Otherwise you risk the same suffering outcomes.

Action: Think of a time when you took a different perspective and consequently delivered better results

Overcoming pain

To clarify overcoming pain is important. It will mean different things to different people. What I refer to is moving on from the existing dominance of pain to a life that is fulfilling: moving from pain to purpose. In the Pain Coach Programme we focus on a number of areas, but one of the most important is reconnection. This means reconnecting with what is truly important to you in life: people, purpose and the planet (being out in nature — we need it; read here).

Many people can move to a state of being free from their pain when they know how. Some people have a particular condition that features pain, so they are likely to experience painful moments. On learning about their pain and what they can do to best manage those moments whilst building wellness, their quality of life can improve and continue to do so by following certain principles each day (healthy habits). A major part of this is one’s expectations that emerge from beliefs about the nature of the problem. This together with the belief in oneself to get better has an effect on the existing outcomes. When you understand pain in a practical way, you begin to realise your potential.

This is a brief look but I am hoping that already you are gaining a sense of why it is important to look to other fields in order to get results. It is why I have spent time over the 10 years talking to and learning from coaches, peak performers, scientists and philosophers to name but a few. I have learned that to really help people suffering pain problems move on, we need a broad skill set that is underpinned by a deep understanding of pain and coaching.

Society does not understand pain and this must change. When people understand that pain is a perception, a need state (like hunger or thirst), an inference, a prediction and more, they begin to realise their potential to get better. The fear dissolves, the focus emerges and they move forward in a chosen direction with purpose. Coaching is the means.


Going there with courage not only reinforces to self an approach characterised by an ‘I can’ attitude, but also to others. This is not the old stiff upper lip. This is someone who knows self-care to be of vital importance for performance in life and to be able to care for others.

The Pain Coach

For many people, facing what lies beneath the waterline is their greatest challenge. We have been told in our time that pain relates to an injury or a pathology: more pain = more damage or a more sinister condition. However, for many years we have known from the science that this is not true. Pain is a subjective experience that cannot be seen anymore that ‘funny’ can be observed when someone laughs, or thirst. Pain is all about protection and survival, and will be inferred anytime that there is a perceived threat, especially if there is something about the current circumstance that happened before (priors). This is why stress and tiredness usually make things worse, because we are in a state of protect. Pain is whole person.

To gather momentum in the right direction then, needs leadership, but one where the person leads his- or herself bravely onwards towards their picture(s) of success. Healthy habits, specific practices and exercises need to be interwoven into the day together with a ‘know-how’ that comes from being coached to coach oneself. This takes courage, commitment and curiosity about what is under the hood and what you are capable of achieving.


Richmond provides Pain Coach 1:1 Mentoring for clinicians and therapists who want to get the best of themselves to get the best of their patients (whole people). Contact us to start your coaching: [email protected]

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