28 Mar 2024

Break up with your pain: Mindful uncoupling

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Relationships are complex. Some leave you feeling loved and content, while others make you want to run for the hills.

Unfortunately, your relationship with chronic pain probably falls into the latter category. And although we wish we could, we can’t just tell our chronic pain to pack its bags and move the hell out.

What we can do, though, is employ helpful mind-body techniques like Mindful Uncoupling to help us put some much-needed emotional distance between us and our pain – a chronic pain break-up, if you will!

Let’s explore…


What is mindful uncoupling?

Mindful uncoupling (or conscious uncoupling) was originally developed to help individuals come to terms with the ending of a romantic relationship in a way that is both conscious and intentional. AKA, it teaches how to compartmentalise and process feelings in a way that fosters healing, rather than hurting.

More recently, it’s made its way into the world of chronic pain as a mindfulness technique used to help individuals manage chronic pain symptoms.

Here’s how…


Mindful uncoupling and chronic pain

While chronic pain has a lot to do with our body, it also has plenty to do with our mind and how the two interact.

Chronic pain experts believe that by changing the way we think about our chronic pain, we can manipulate the way our nervous system and our brain responds to pain stimuli.

Take this study, for example, in which researchers tested the impact of mindfulness meditation on pain responses. Findings showed that those participants exposed to mindfulness meditation found heat-induced pain reduced by 33 per cent, while control groups reported an 18 per cent increase in pain.

Researchers concluded that ‘mindfulness-based pain therapy provides pain relief by unlinking the pain processing part of the brain (the thalamus) from the self-reflecting part (the precuneus).’

So, how can we put that into practice when it comes to our chronic pain?


How can mindful uncoupling work for you?

Mindful uncoupling follows a set of principles. Each one can be implemented easily into your daily life to encourage the start of the uncoupling or unlinking process. Here’s how…


Conscious awareness

Mindful uncoupling begins with being aware of your pain without attaching a feeling to it. Accept the pain is there but refrain from thinking of it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This begins to create distance between you and your pain.



It can be tempting to fight against your pain but accepting it for what it is releases tension and stress that could worsen your symptoms.


Mind-body connection

Turn your attention inward and really focus on how your thoughts and emotions impact your pain. By being aware of these emotional links, you're better able to control them and therefore your mental and physical responses to them.


Emotional processing

Mindful uncoupling encourages you to explore and process the range of emotions you experience. You can begin to compartmentalise these emotions and disentangle them from your chronic pain.

The idea of mindful uncoupling for chronic pain is to turn your pain into something you have control over, rather than the other way around.

Give these small but powerful steps a try or get in touch for further chronic pain support.