As human beings, we often seek out fast solutions to our problems. We want to feel better as soon as possible, whether it’s by taking a pill or indulging in some other form of instant gratification. However, the quick-fix mentality can actually be counterproductive. Our brains are always changing and growing, in response to our thoughts and behaviors, and if we continually opt for quick fixes, we can create neural pathways that ultimately lead to more problems.
Our brains can adapt and change because of a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. This means that our thoughts, experiences, and behaviors can shape the structure and function of our brains over time.
If we consistently choose quick fixes or instant gratification, such as relying on drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, we can create neural pathways in the brain that reinforce those behaviors. These pathways become stronger with repeated use, making it more difficult to break the habit and leading to long-term problems such as addiction, poor impulse control, and decreased emotional regulation.
Tolerating the uncomfortable
To illustrate this point, let’s consider an example. Suppose you reach for a quick, unhealthy snack every time you feel hungry. Your brain quickly gets used to this routine and expects the same response each time, which likely includes a release of dopamine. You begin to rely on this quick fix, and it becomes a habit that is hard to break. This same pattern can occur in those seeking relief from chronic pain and insomnia.
Research shows that tolerating discomfort is actually good for us. Our brains become more resilient in the long run when we learn to tolerate uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
However, when it comes to chronic pain, tolerating discomfort can be extremely challenging. Chronic pain sufferers often look for quick fixes, such as opioids, to help them manage their pain. However, these quick fixes can lead to more problems like addiction and insomnia.
The root cause of the issue
Furthermore, when we opt for quick fixes, we cover up uncomfortable feelings and sensations, rather than addressing the root cause. We are essentially putting a band-aid on the problem, rather than treating it at the source. This can lead to a cycle of dependency, as we become more reliant on the quick fix to feel better.
In addition, if you feel pain and want immediate relief, your brain is learning that the sensation of pain is dangerous. In fact, we want to teach ourselves that pain sensations are harmless and are not something to worry about. If your brain begins to perceive pain as non-threatening, it will be more likely to let go of the pain in the long term.
It is crucial to address the root cause of your pain, rather than simply treating the symptoms. It’s important to practice tolerating discomfort and working through it, rather than opting for a quick fix. Chronic pain therapy, and in particular, pain reprocessing therapy can help you with this process. Pain therapy focuses on teaching you how to tolerate pain without feeling like you need to fix it immediately.
Our brains and neural pathways
In conclusion, the quick-fix mentality can be harmful for a multitude of reasons. Our brains have the ability to change, and if we continually opt for quick fixes, we can create neural pathways that lead to more problems in the long run.
Tolerating discomfort is an essential part of building resilience, but it can be challenging when it comes to chronic pain. As chronic pain specialists, we must encourage our clients to address the root cause of their pain, rather than simply treating the symptoms with a quick fix. Feel free to contact us for more information or to set up an appointment. It’s never too late to feel better—mentally and physically!