Monday, March 4, 2019

A Change of Name…

I am happy to announce that my groups for people living with chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and chronic illness have a new name: 

Stop Your Pain! Groups: Learn Powerful Tools that Work

These groups were formerly called “A Change of Mind: Neuroplastic Tools for Healing,” to highlight the importance of using neuroplasticity (the way the brain changes itself) to decrease symptoms. The impetus for the name change is to make it easier for people living with physical and emotional pain to find us. We all want to stop our pain, we all want to feel powerful again, and above all we want it to work.  

Changing the name of the groups reminds me that the nature of life is change, that change is inevitable, that change is the most constant experience that we all share. The brain itself changes constantly throughout our entire lives, and does so according to specific principles of how that change occurs. The neuroplastic method taught in the groups helps us to direct the change we want to see in our own brains: a decrease in our symptoms.

See these other blog articles to find out more about the neuroplastic method:

New sessions start soon — register here:

Online group:
Wednesdays 3:30–5:30 p.m. Pacific Time 

In-person groups:
Mondays 6:00–8:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Tuesdays 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Saturday, January 5, 2019

A New Year: Reflection

2018 out, 2019 in illustration of Dr. Rosenman's blog related to reducing pain, reducing anxiety
Illustration by Mohamed Hassan
Reflection, looking inside ourselves to find a clear image, gives us the information that we need to decide where we want to go from here. It is the necessary prequel to making conscious choices about the next part of our lives and involves noticing who we are in the present moment. Reflection is often associated with particular calendar events, which can include a birthday, a religious or secular holiday, other events with individual meaning, and January 1.
Runner representing New Year's resolutions -- Danielle Rosenman, MD Neuroplasticity blog
Illustration by intographics
The new year has arrived, and there is a tradition at this time of making a set of personal “New Year’s resolutions.” These resolutions are promises that we make to ourselves, often about changes that we want to make related to our own habits. Two of the most common resolutions are to “eat healthier” and “get more exercise.” A large percentage of these promises are broken before the end of January, however if we choose simple goals, create action plans, take small steps, tolerate some inconsistency, and stay positive, we can feel good about our progress.
While reflection is the first necessary step into the possibility of change, it is the next steps that can help us most in choosing and creating what we want for ourselves. It begins with deciding on goals. It can be as simple as deciding on one goal for the immediate future. It can be as complex as creating a list of short term, intermediate term, and long-term goals. The first part of choosing goals is to give ourselves enough time and space to think carefully about what is most important to us at this time. Be sure to write down and save these goals in whatever format works for you. Possibilities include keeping a list in a notebook, on paper or 3 x 5 cards in a folder, on an app or your calendar on your phone or computer, or posted where you can see it.
While some think of long lists of goals to accomplish, in making an action plan it is important to decide on individual small steps toward each goal to avoid becoming overwhelmed. If you have 10 goals, it may work best to prioritize them and start with one step toward one goal. Each step should be small enough that it seems almost “too easy.” If you have not been exercising and want to begin, start walking a distance that is very easy at least three times a week. Slowly and gradually, the distance and frequency can be increased. Support this process by noticing and appreciating each step (and yourself!), no matter how small.
The most important personal qualities to cultivate while making change in support of goals are self-compassion, the ability to notice and release self-judgment, and positive outlook. When we are judgmental and have negative feelings about ourselves, it is harder to sustain the desire for change, and we are more likely to give up and fail to accomplish our goals. We are most able to create change and accomplish goals when we maintain self-kindness and focus on the positive.
Brain word cloud representing meditating and applying neuroplastic methods to change our feelings
Illustration by John Hain
In order to engage in this process of reflection, notice our current state, and choose a path to the future we want to see, we must feel that we have personal power and the ability to go through this process. Living with symptoms of chronic pain, anxiety, depression, chronic illness, and other conditions can lead to feeling powerless. It may be hard to imagine having enough energy to consider taking steps to have a better life. Here too, it works best to focus on one step at a time: learning to cultivate a sense of personal power. The first step is noticing the feeling of being powerless and interrupting that feeling, the same way we interrupt symptoms such as pain or anxiety. The Neuroplastic Method teaches us to interrupt our symptoms by using a Tool every time we notice them. One example uses words and language as a neuroplastic tool. We start by noticing the desire to change something in our lives, and the feeling of being too overwhelmed to even think about it. The minute we notice this feeling, we “catch it in the act” and say out loud “this is a feeling of being powerless and it’s NOT TRUE! I can take one small step at a time and eventually change will come.”
In this way we can recapture a sense of personal power and ability that will allow us to take steps toward achieving our goals.