Transforming Our Relationship With Chronic Pain with Sarah Anne Shockley

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At some point in our lives we experience pain. Living with physical or emotional pain is part of the journey of being human. And when pain refuses to go away, we strive to reduce it or move through our lives despite the pain. Most of us are looking for one button to push, one pill to take, or a single change to make to fix it. The truth is that it is not easy when pain has taken up residence in our lives. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, no single key, no quick fix. Our guest today has lived with chronic pain over a long period of time and she can attest to the fact that when we create a new relationship with our bodies, our emotions, our minds, and our spirit, our healing can truly unfold. She talks about the timetable of pain: “We try to force pain to follow our timetable and it just won’t. Sometimes we have short-term pain and things heal on a schedule and that’s really great. We sprain an ankle or break a bone and we know that it’s going to heal. That’s the kind of pain that can be intense but it is different from chronic, long-term pain which is a pain that won’t leave, a pain that can morph and spread through your whole experience and your whole body.” She suggests that trying to approach pain with the idea of fighting it, stopping it. and labeling it as bad may not be an effective way to deal with it. She says, “You’re kind of locking it into place . . . I’d rather see us move away from the sense of pain as an enemy, something to be killed and stopped. [I don’t mean you must] love pain or enjoy it.” She recommends going to the place where you say: “Okay, pain has shown up. It’s already here. What is it? What is its purpose?” Tune in to this dialogue and discover wisdom from someone who continues to deal with long-term pain. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


Sarah Anne Shockley is an award-winning filmmaker and a Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner. She has studied with shamans from various cultures around the world and has lived with the debilitating Thoracic Outlet Syndrome for more than 10 years. She has been a columnist for Pain News Network and is a regular contributor to The Mighty, a 1.5 million-member online community for those living with chronic illness. Because her condition was unresponsive to existing traditional or alternative therapies, she developed a unique method of pain management and pain reduction not reliant on pharmaceuticals or medical intervention.

Sarah Anne Shockley is the author of:

To learn more about the work Sarah Anne Shockley go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How Shockley deals with the pain of TOS (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome)
  • Why we often respond to pain with a stoic attitude of “just get through it”
  • Why our natural inclination is to isolate ourselves in our own bubble of pain
  • What are some options given to deal with pain that may or may not be helpful
  • What are some questions Shockley wished her doctor would ask her
  • How writing a letter to your pain and having your pain write back to you can be of help
  • Why the culture of pain puts forth the paradigm that pain is the enemy
  • Why the emotional body must be included in dealing with chronic pain
  • How pain can become a mentor
  • What are some specific practices in dealing with the territory of chronic pain 

Host: Justine Willis Toms         Interview Date: 6/20/2017         Program Number: 3648

Music Playlist

From Album: Sands of Time
Artist: Peter Sterling
2008 Harp Magic Music

Opening Essay: Track 01 Forever and a Day
Music Break 1: Track 02 Come with Me
Music Break 2: Track 03 Pirouette
Music Break 3: Track 04 Ever After