Drawing the wrong conclusions

Drawing the wrong conclusions

12 min. reading time


Louis Zantema

5 January 2020

Louis is a GZ-Psychologist with a great passion for gaming. For him, a game training that offers therapy is the most valuable thing you can develop: especially for pain complaints, which are on the interesting intersection of body and mind. His aim is to make himself dispensable as a therapist.

How come pain is so difficult to predict? Why does one effort cause pain, while another does not?

Pain is difficult to predict. Sometimes you don't have any problems after exercising, other times you can barely get out of bed. Some busy days mean that you have to take a few days off, while another busy day doesn't seem to lead to any significant problems.

All this is because pain is 'emergent'. Emergent means that many different influences determine the outcome. In which not all influences are clear. 

An example: Colors. When you see a colour, it is often a mixture of different colours that you can no longer see at that moment. In fact, the fabrics that make up the color, all have no color of their own, but as a whole! 

Now back to pain. There are many influences that determine pain: effort, stress, thoughts, feelings, where your attention is, sleep (lack), the quality of social contacts, and so on. Where acute pain can be reasonably (but also not well) predicted, with chronic pain there are many more influences that make the pain unpredictable. 

It is impossible to find out in your 'colour of pain' which mixture of colours together have caused it.

Conclusions that are drawn too quickly


So it's impossible to be completely sure of what's causing your pain.  One tendency of our brain, which in this case does not help us, is to draw quick conclusions. Because we want to avoid the pain as much as possible, our brain searches for reasons for the pain - and then (often unfairly!) avoids these things. 


An example: Petra decides to go for a walk more often. The first three times is fine, but after the third time she gets a lot of pain. She has to take a rest for the rest of the day and also lacks day work, because it really isn't possible. She decides that walking is not for her. 


In this example it seems logical to blame walking for the pain, but is that really the case? Petra has walked hundreds of times in her life without pain. The last two times went well, and now she has pain once. The conclusion seems to be taken too quickly. It could well be that a stressful day and bad sleep was the cause! Maybe she would have had even more pain if she hadn't walked... 


But, if it doesn't help to keep drawing conclusions from your pain, how do you change it? The answer is simple, but difficult to implement, namely to make as many parts of your life as possible better! Because pain is always a collaboration between all kinds of parts of your life, it helps the most to make sure that you feel good in as many areas as possible! 


Upgrade your life (a lifelong exercise....)


Consider for yourself how satisfied you are with the next parts of your life by giving the next parts a grade (0 - 10):








Social contacts


(Volunteer) work


Power supply








Select the item with the lowest digit. Write down what is not going well at the moment. Then how you could make progress. What habits would you like to develop to improve your life in this area? 


Take your time, make a plan. Set yourself achievable goals and don't do too much at once. A small step forward per day will eventually do more for you than just spontaneously changing your whole life.


Example: I often go to bed too late because I want to do a lot of things in the evening. Then I'm active until late, which means I don't sleep well at all. The first step could be to read a book in the last half hour of the evening, so that I can sleep easily. Without paying attention to the time. If that goes well, I can see if I can start reading in bed at 22:00. And so one step further, until you are satisfied with this area in your life.


Improving parts of your life is a life's work in itself, and will never be 'finished'. Not if you're anything like me, anyway. 


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