For anyone who has had the misfortune of acquiring a sliver or fragment of any foreign object that penetrates and becomes lodged inside one’s skin, you likely remember;

  1. The relentless commitment you invested to remove this persisting irritant.
  2. Once successfully removed, your amazement of how such a tiny structure could create such a disruption of your attention to other concerns.
  3. The instantaneous and extensive relief you experienced both mentally and physically the moment you realized this “threat” had passed.

For those seeking greater understanding of how they have grown to acquire chronic pain, this article offers an analogous explanation of how our bodies and minds progressively respond to such an intrusion as a sliver and comparatively how our very being collectively responds to both emotionally provoking and more obscure physical irritants and thus is coined as an “internal sliver.”

Internal, meaning we cannot see it; we cannot put a tweezers or needle on it to pry such an irritable source from our existence. Often times we cannot even perceive where such an irritant precisely exists. Yet for persons who seek our care in resolving a long existing and generally frustrating pain pattern often voice, “I began hurting maybe 1, 3, 5, or even 30 years ago, there seemed to be no obvious cause, I cannot get comfortable, I just want whatever it is to go away.” Further they often voice, “Nothing has helped, I’ve tried surgery, injections, other physical therapy, and many gizmos and exercise methods I have desperately searched for on the internet.” And finally, “What are you going to do that is different and is it going to help?” As a therapist versed in resolving such complexity, I recognize both:

  1. Once upon a time there was a contributing source, perhaps multiple (any form of trauma – physical or emotional) that potentially is being overlooked in present time – dismissed by thinking I have long since “fully” healed from that time I broke my ankle, or fell down the stairs, that nuisance fender bender, or that embarrassing moment or emotional trauma; and yet they may in fact still fester within. In our resilience to soldier on, meaning in actuality failing to truly heal from our many previous injuries, we potentially allow a previously apparent benign “sliver’ or more often multiple “slivers’ to fester beneath our conscious radar.
  2. Because of #1 and perhaps even another more recent event, there in fact exists a recognizable explanation or source of one’s chronic symptoms.

Festering within, similar to what would be an obvious response should you not be able to remove an external sliver, such as developing an infection, progressive irritant or alteration of tissue in the form of encapsulation, internally such “slivers” or irritable existences are often festering in the form of:

  1. Perpetual joint misalignment(s) and resultant mechanical sources of pain
  2. An inhibited muscle (not just weak but literally not participating) and resultant movement compensations
  3. Patterned Sympathetic Fight or Flight response inducing biochemical imbalances and associated tonic muscular bracing in the presence of prevailing stress, anxiety, fear or pain avoidance

As such occurrences invade one’s body, multiple responses either reflexively develop (limping, misperceptions, shame, holding one’s breath, activity avoidances) or as adaptive consequences (decreased flexibility, weaknesses, fatigue, depression, restless or non-restorative sleep) begin to evolve. Ultimately the accumulation of such internal irritants can invest themselves so deep that absolutely every aspect of our existence; mind, body and spirit can be affected.

The encouraging news is, there is a known method to identify, therapeutically influence and ultimately reduce if not fully resolve such pathologically inducing sources. This process is not easy, patience and perseverance are essential ingredients, yet the rewards far outweigh the personal contributions of patient and therapist alike. In a nut shell the process through a systematic investment of therapeutic methods entails a tactful dismantling of the current disorder, while simultaneously imparting influences of therapeutic reorganization. In short, reversing the maladaptive patterning and thus the painful presentation that one acquired.

In conclusion the parallel between external and internal slivers (no matter how long they have existed), once provided a path for true healing, the physiological and emotional responses are identical. A perceivable liberation from prior angsts or ills to that of being present and calm, “I feel lighter, I can actually breathe,” It is the subtle medium that deeper healing can occur. And when a smile returns and one’s eyes brighten – that journey of healing is so worth pursuing. Despair becomes hope and ultimately evolves to a restored levity, spontaneity and a youthful spirit. So never, ever give up hope for restoration of your optimal health and ultimately the revealing of your true self.