Migraine Failures or Superpowers? Changing Your Perception

In the popular TV Drama, “Grey’s Anatomy,” Dr. Amelia Shepherd teaches us about the superhero pose and that if you stand in this position for 5 minutes before a big job, interview, or presentation, you’ll feel more powerful, confident, and secure in your skills. You may even be surprised to learn that there are experiments around power poses, which you can read about on the TED blog.

I received an email yesterday from The Napoleon Hill Foundation that sparked my interest in the topic of power posing, and I’d like to explore it further here.

Failure as a Blessing

The Thought for the Day from The Napoleon Hill Foundation was, “Failure is a blessing when it pushes us out of a cushioned seat of self-satisfaction and forces us to do something useful.” The operative word in that sentence is “when.” Nothing can override free will. You must choose to use gratitude as a source for examining failures and recognize that opportunities arise when you face extreme adversity.  

I know what it feels like to try tons of different things with the sole purpose of squashing those migraines for good.  And I know what it feels like to totally miss the mark. When migraine failures hit, they usually come crashing down all at once. You start feeling the brunt of all the little shortcomings compounding the big one, and the mind begins to focus on all the problems, such as:

·         The pain is back, more intense, and a lot more frequently than when I started this journey.

·         The meds are exhausting, and yet I can’t sleep.

·         The doctor told me she couldn’t see anything wrong with my studies.

·         The supplements don’t work.

·         Organic food is too expensive to sustain, and my family won’t eat healthy anyway.

Changing Your Perception

What if we took those thoughts and instead, transformed them into something else, making them into power plays that mimic what a power pose can do? Amy Cuddy, the social scientist from Harvard, stated, “our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves. Our bodies change our minds.” What would happen if we changed our thoughts into ones that were more powerfully positive? It’d be just like power posing but for your brain!

Here are a few examples for transforming those above thoughts into something more positive:

·         Since starting this journey, I’ve learned a lot about my migraines and what’s causing them.

·         I don’t need the medications; I can and will find a way away from them.

·         My doctor is awful; I’ll consult another until I find the one who can help.

·         I will experiment more with my supplements. I will find ones that work.

·         I can and will eat better. We’ll do it as a family.

When migraines are involved, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, so hopefully, these examples demonstrate the simple nature of making this one small change to what and how you think about yourself.

The Science Behind Negative Thoughts

In Scientific American, the author describes research out of New York University and Carnegie Mellon University, which “suggests that we remember hardships as worse than they actually were so that when we face those experiences again, they will be less painful than we expect.”

In the study, students were exposed to 40 seconds of vacuum cleaner noise. Afterward, half were told they’d need to hear it again in the future, and the other half were told the study was over. All students were then asked how irritated they were at the noise. Those who were warned they’d hear it again were significantly more irritated than the other half.

The same thing happens with migraine attacks. We build up those negative thoughts about the experience and leave ourselves vulnerable to exacerbated pain when it strikes next. There is great power in positive thinking.

When it comes to identifying migraine failures, it’s essential to see them as powerful allies in your journey and focus on what you take away from these failures. For example, failure teaches you about what you can control, increases your self-knowledge, shows you how to live in the moment, and opens you up to new opportunities for self-care. Failure will prove you’re not alone, and you never have to be. If you’d like to discuss some options or ask a few questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I work with people all over the globe, and I’m sure we can find your superpowers.


Tiny Buddha: Hidden Blessings in Failure

TED: Examples of how power posing can actually boost your confidence

Scientific American: The Power of Negative Thinking