With chronic pain, you may experience irrational and paralyzing fear. Irrational fear lacks reason and clarity. Paralyzing fear keeps you frozen in place, unable to move forward. Fear is a natural human emotion that can help us to respond effectively to things that threaten us. Walking out into the middle of a busy highway appropriately causes fear. If someone points a gun at you and threatens to shoot you, obviously fear is a rational reaction to the situation. Fear becomes problematic when you allow it to debilitate you by keeping you from doing the things you need to do in order to function in the world. Also, it can be troublesome to be consumed by fear about something that might happen – anticipating the worst. Taking pain medication can sometimes mask fear, making it easier to pretend it is not there. Fear feeds on itself; the more fearful you are, the more fearful you become, and the less able you are to function. Common fears associated with chronic pain are fear related to the pain itself; to doing anything that could possibly make the pain worse; to not having enough pain medication; to taking too much or becoming addicted to pain medication; to failed medical procedures or surgeries, loss of functioning or ability to do things; to job or career problems; to financial problems; to relationship problems; to getting worse or sometimes even to getting better; and the biggest fear of all, to getting off drugs. Many of these fears stem from fear of the unknown and/or fear of change. Fear can be very difficult to acknowledge to yourself and others. Many of those who have lived with physical and emotional pain for a long period of time have learned to suppress their fear. Few people like to admit to or talk about being fearful. In some circles, feeling scared and expressing fear is viewed as weakness, making it even harder to discuss with others because of the desire to avoid negative perceptions and judgments. It requires strength and courage to do anything that is uncomfortable or to do things differently from the way you’ve done them in the past. Therefore, rather than reflecting weakness, admitting to and talking about your fears reflects strength. Keep in mind that courage is not the absence of fear; courage is being aware of your fear and doing what you need to do in spite of it. This blog post is an excerpt from Pain Recovery – How to Find Balance and Reduce Suffering from Chronic Pain by Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM, Frank Szabo, LADC, Daniel Shiode, PhD, Robert Hunter, PhD; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).