Personality Traits That Can Lead to Chronic Pain

Most people don’t typically associate personality traits with pain. 

However, the two go hand-in-hand more than you might realize, especially when you’re dealing with chronic pain. While personality traits aren’t always predictors of pain, certain ones may trigger the “fight-or-flight” response in your brain more heavily than others. 

That results in the amygdala over-firing, causing your body to experience higher stress levels and the physiological changes that come with them—including chronic pain. 

It’s important to understand the mind-body connection, and how certain traits can coincide with chronic pain. The greater your grasp on it, the easier it can be to manage your symptoms by focusing on how to change those traits. 


Perfectionism isn’t a bad thing. It’s okay to want to do your best and have high expectations. 

However, there’s a difference between doing your best and feeling like you have to be perfect all the time. Holding yourself to impossible standards is exhausting and puts your brain and body under constant stress. 

It’s also easier to feel anxious and depressed when you’re a perfectionist because you’ll struggle with never being able to get things “right.” 

Be kind to yourself. Establish realistic expectations and recognize that you don’t have to be perfect to be happy. 


Are you one of those people who has a hard time saying “no” when someone asks for something? 

Maybe you don’t want to disappoint anyone. Or maybe you struggle with guilt. Whatever the case, people-pleasing often leads to trouble setting boundaries. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as you ignore your own needs to make others happy. 

When you’re overly worried about making others happy, your brain could go on high alert, treating the situation like an emergency. That can come with muscle aches and pains, tension, and shortness of breath—all contributing to chronic pain. 

It’s okay to want to help others. However, you have to be able to set healthy boundaries and prioritize your own well-being first. Self-care isn’t selfish. While it can be difficult to learn to say “no,” it’s a crucial component of putting yourself first. 

Packing Your Schedule

We live in a busy society. You might find yourself rushing from place to place or always trying to fill your time with something to do. There’s something to be said about being productive. However, if you’re packing your schedule and rushing around too often, it could have a negative impact on your brain. 

Rushing causes your brain to release both adrenaline and cortisol, which takes a toll on the body. Not only can it leave you feeling exhausted, but it can make your symptoms of chronic pain worse. 

Your mind needs a chance to rest and recover. Having a “busy brain” makes it harder to slow down and get that rest. Unfortunately, that can cause a sort of vicious cycle. When your brain constantly feels “rushed,” you’re more likely to experience more stress and have a harder time winding down. That makes things even harder on your body. 

You might think it’s impossible to change your personality traits, but that isn’t true. The good news about the brain is that it’s changeable—you can adjust your behaviors and form healthier habits. 

In our practice, we use Pain Reprocessing Therapy to help our clients heal their chronic pain. If you’re worried that any of your personality traits might be contributing to the pain you feel, you’re not alone. Feel free to contact us for more information or to set up an appointment. It’s never too late to change and start to feel better—mentally and physically!

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Cabin John, MD 20818

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