The Dickens Process for Pain: Are You Hurting Because You Have Shitty Beliefs?

The Dickens Process for Pain: Are You Hurting Because You Have Shitty Beliefs? Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic

27 Dec The Dickens Process for Pain: Are You Hurting Because You Have Shitty Beliefs?

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The words you say tell me whether you’ll succeed or fail.

When you speak, others can peek into your mind.

We can see whether you will succeed or fail. Whether you’re going to do what you say you want to do or not. Whether you’re going to get out of the pain that has been plaguing you or you’re stuck to suffer with it.

Imagine (or become aware of the reality) that:

  • you have an injury that hasn’t gone away in months/years, or
  • you always feel an annoying hip pain anytime you squat, or
  • there’s neck tension you try to ignore around 1 PM every day ….

You’d love to have that sensation gone. But, you don’t believe it’s possible.

You believe:

I’m stuck with this annoying, frustrating pain and there’s nothing I can do about it.

For a minority percentage of you, this belief is true. If your pain has been present enough in your life to become structural, then there may be nothing you can do. If come to see me or another pain doctor, chances are, that your pain doctor will fail you and you could become a victim of the Kitchen Sink Paradox.

For a larger percentage of you, the belief is false. The existence of Barefoot Rehab and our patients’ success stories (testimonials on Website | Facebook | Google) is proof that the belief is false.

Then, the question becomes:

Is this belief serving me? Is there a belief that would allow me to alter what I think is reality and achieve what I say I really want?

The Dickens Process is a means towards examining your beliefs around pain (and any other life goal or dream) that you’ve not even thought about pursuing or perhaps, have been pursuing, half-heartedly.

With new beliefs comes new reality. You can only achieve, wholeheartedly.

Here’s how…

The Dickens Process For Pain – What Are Your Beliefs Costing You?

What follows is outlined on page 449 of Tools of Titans (affiliate link) by Tim Ferriss of Four Hour Work Week fame, who completed the Dickens Process exercise over several days at Tony Robbins’s Unleash the Power Within seminar.

In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Scrooge gains the ability to visualize his life across the entirety of his life. As if he’s able to step outside of the what the world looks like, viewing it from behind his two eyeballs, to the 3rd person perspective of looking down at his own body, being lived from an almost supernatural force. With new perspective, Scrooge lives, moving forward, aware of how he lived in the past, with fresh perspective of the life he really wants to create in the future.

The Dickens Process forces you to examine your limiting beliefs, across your life.  The limiting beliefs that limit how big and dreamy your life is.

Aware of those beliefs, you can go into the new year with full responsibility for the beliefs you choose to live by.

As Peter Parker’s (aka Spiderman) uncle said:

With great responsibility comes great power.

Note: He actually said “With great power comes great responsibility.” However, his words rings true when reversed too.

In the Dickens process, you get to examine the answer to the questions:

  1. What has your belief cost you in the past, and what has it cost people you’ve loved in the past? What have you lost because of this belief? See it, hear it, feel it.
  2. What is each costing you and people you care about in the present? See it, hear it, feel it.
  3. What will each cost you and people you care about 1,3,5, and 10 years from now? See it, hear it, feel it.

What follows is my own Dickens Process of a major limiting belief that has caused immense suffering in my life.

Your Beliefs Can Create Your Hell

September 2016.  I was at Forefront, an event hosted by Ramit Sethi, creator of, when he was discussing what his hell looks like:

My hell is waking up, going through my morning, and having to make a decision about what to do for lunch.

As soon as I heard it, I judged Ramit as insensitive and ridiculous.  Hell is fire, brimstones, and pain.  There are people starving in the world, being abused, raped, tortured. Making a decision about lunch is not any of those things.

Upon further thought, I realized the brilliance of Ramit’s hell. He wasn’t meaning to demean what others suffer through. He was bringing attention to what caused him (and the rest of us) to suffer in our very progressive world. Ramit is a highly focused, highly productive, and highly successful business owner who studies behavioral psychology to get people to do what they say they want to do and to stop lying to themselves.

The willpower used to consider lunch, day after day, takes away from his mental energy to do what he’s being doing for years: achieving goals. When new beliefs streamline new behaviors around his decision of what to do for lunch lunch, he can move forward with action plans baked primarily with the ingredients of achievement for the things that matter most to him.

If you didn’t catch it above,  the flow of successful achievement looks like this:

Goals → Beliefs → Behaviors

As I write this, I’ve become aware that over the past two weeks, I’ve been stressing (a behavior) at least three times per day about the dirt in front of our treatment room at work that hasn’t been vacuumed yet. We had a small fire and a contractor has been doing repairs and neglecting the cleanliness of the space.

I’ve been wasting mental energy on that dirt, yet, I’ve done nothing productive about it.

With this awareness, I’m ready to drop the belief that “I (and everyone and everything around me) must be perfect.” Because the goal of a clean floor was getting in the way of higher priority goals (i.e. strategizing towards bigger goals in life besides thinking about so much dirt).

That’s what the Dickens Process helps you do. It helps you decide what beliefs aren’t serving you, drop them, choose a new belief, then create a behavioral action plan to create life on your own terms.

Watch me.

My OLD BELIEF: I need to work ridiculously hard to have any chance of achieving my goals (which I might not achieve).

PAST: I’ve nearly killed myself and those i’ve worked alongside. I’ve demanded lots, asked for more, without ever acknowledging the good that people around me have done. I’ve hurt people along the way by not letting them know how much I cared or appreciated them. I’ve worked exhaustively without necessarily getting anywhere.

This has absolutely cost me relationships. Ridiculously high standards for myself means that I hold others to ridiculously high standards. Failure to celebrate milestones means that I expect perfectionism with others without acknowledging them. I’ve had employees break down, crying, due to my unrelenting expectations of “do what I want.”

It currently makes me want to vomit that I treated others this way.

Over the past few years, when I’ve noticed depressing thoughts enter my mind, it’s almost always attached to “being too busy.”

PRESENT: I spend time, not necessarily doing anything to bring my goals into focus.  This looks like me sitting on a computer for 6-8 hours in a day. Rotating through three email accounts, my calendar, facebook, and blog posts to consume. Only to ask myself at the end of the day “How did I move towards my vision and goals today?” and answer “Nothing.”

FUTURE: Depression, massive unhappiness for those all around me.  I must’ve said it a dozen times over the past year. If I want to hate my days, I load it with appointments and work that don’t leverage my efforts.

NEW BELIEF: I can achieve my goals with ease and focus.


Life is complex. It doesn’t need help in becoming more chaotic or difficult. Therefore, where possible, I want to:

Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler. ~Albert Einstein

With lots of space and time to reflect over the past three months, I’ve become aware of greater amounts of success with tinier amounts of effort.  Writing this blog post has forced me to whittle my list of things to do for Barefoot Rehab and my pain-reducing skills to the following list.

Only Do These 9 Things Monday – Friday (in order of priority)

  1. Self-care. [5 x 4 hour chunks – includes time with my girlfriend, family, friends, etc.] 20 Hours
  2. Create space of nothingness and pleasure. [5 x 2 hour chunks] 10 Hours
  3. Treat patients. [4 x 5 hour chunks] 20 hours
  4. Develop practice skill (technique, communication, knowledge). 2 Hours
    [5 x 15 min chunks]
  5. Give staff power to flourish. [On-going] 4 Hours
  6. Practice technique with Doctors. [2 x 30 min chunks] 1 Hour
  7. Write blog posts and leverage Internal communications. 4 Hours
    [2 x 2 hour chunks]
  8. Do events (find power partners). 3 Hours
    [2 x 90 min chunks]
  9. Read/Learn without Agenda. 12 Hours
    [3 x 4 hour chunkis]

#s 1, 2, and 9 can be considered personal items. But I’ve learned the hard way that when I don’t prioritize them, my happiness and success in practice suffer. Therefore, they go on my work list.

The Top 3 Beliefs Affecting Your Health Right Now

Your #1 BELIEF: I’m stuck to this level of pain for the rest of my life.

You’ve been let down by this doctor and that one. You’ve tried physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, medications, cortisone shots, etc. Another doctor promises the world and leaves you with nothing. This has left you hopeless.

PROPOSED #1 NEW BELIEF: “I can be relatively out of pain, if I stay the path.”

PROPOSED NEW BEHAVIORS: Find a doctor you trust to give you an honest opinion. Respect his or her opinion. Add weight to that opinion and do the research online to determine what possibilities are available to you to get out of pain.

We hired a marketer to do some customer research a few years back about why they came in to get treated by us at Barefoot Rehab. Here are a few of their answers.

I saw multiple massage therapists, chiros, physical therapists, and orthos.

Researched ART on the internet initially, in a fitness related thread by bodybuilders and powerlifters that were singing its praises, and then heard about Dr. Chris through the CrossFit community.

I asked my family for advice and went to multiple physical therapists with no improvement.

I took pain meds, asked friends, tried to work out, tried to lose weight. Nothing worked.

I saw a chiropractor, neurologist, massage therapist, and tried nutritional supplements and couldn’t find relief.

Frustration over no previous “medical” solutions.

If you want a diagnosis and an opinion you can trust, feel free to call us at Barefoot Rehab. If you want to speak to a doctor on the phone, we’ll give you 15 minutes of our time to see if it’s possible that your pain can be relieved, successfully.

Your #2 BELIEF: I can’t afford to spend money on my healthcare, fitness, diet, or therapy.

PROPOSED #2 NEW BELIEF: “I can afford to invest money in my highest priorities.”

Notice a few changes of wording.

  • “Can’t” becomes “can” for things you care to spend on.
  • “Spend money” becomes “invest money” because when it comes to your health and your body, you don’t exist without them. Literally, you wouldn’t be alive.
  • “Healthcare, fitness, diet, or therapy” becomes “highest priorities”.  The four former words don’t register in people’s minds that a change needs to be made. I know because I’ve tried with patients who need to make changes. When I’ve asked someone “What are your highest priorities in life?” and then “Do your spending habits match your highest priorities?” … the answer is almost always “no.” We’re going to as big of a perspective change as possible.

Observe the people around you who ignore the first thing they should be doing when pain sets in: stopping.


There’s the 25 year old CrossFitter who goes out to the bars, getting hammed on weekends, but isn’t willing to pay for shoulder treatment when surgery for a torn labrum is a future prospect.

There’s the 45 year old working mother who won’t pay for a $300/month gym membership that guarantees results when she’s quit dozens of gyms over the past decade and has slowly escalating body weight, triglyceridies, blood inflammatory markers, and the prospect of life-threatening disease on the horizon.

There’s the 52 year old blue collar worker who won’t pay for out-of-network manual therapy that works to significantly relieve his back pain, which started when he was 20 years old, out of spite because he believes he is entitled to healthcare and his insurance won’t cover it.

I’m not here to judge these people’s actions or behaviors.

What I am here to say, strongly, is that there is a massive fucking incongruency here. The puzzle pieces don’t fit.

Do you realize how precious your body is?

How are people willing to spend money on drinking alcohol, a phone bill, an Amazon Prime membership, but not on making the body function better and longer?

PROPOSED NEW BEHAVIORS: If you don’t have a financial advisor, get one. I can recommend trustworthy ones. Have them help you look at what you spend your money on as a percentage of your expenses. Then, ask yourself the question “Does my spending reflecting my highest priorities?”

If you’re in pain, check out some of our many testimonials on our Website | Facebook | Google to see how we’ve given hope to others who have lost it.

Your #3 BELIEF: If I don’t work out, I’ll be miserable.

This one’s for the endorphin junkies. The chronic exercisers. The ones who, if they don’t work out, have a horrible day.

I know because “MY name is Chris and I’m a recovering over-exercise-aholic.”

Look, exercise is wonderful and good. It helps us. Only overworked, stressed-out Americans can take a little of a good thing and beat it into oblivion with running despite the years of achilles pain or spinning when the low back needs a break from all of the sitting you’ve done.

PROPOSED #3 NEW BELIEF: “I can cope, manage stress, and be happy without exercising every day.”

I want to be clear. I’m not saying that movement and exercise is bad. It’s a very good thing.

What I am saying is that we need to separate daily exercise and movement as a coping mechanism into:

  • We need to cope and manageme stress with a diversified tool belt.
  • We need to move and exercise for the purpose of leveraging health.

Because when you cope and manage stress with one tool, movement and exercise, you’re destined to abuse your body.

PROPOSED NEW BEHAVIORS: Cultivate the practice of continued growth, learning, and development. Explore self-help books, take seminars that have helped other people, dive into therapies that report gains in specific circumstances you deal with, and don’t stop growing.

The flower never stops moving through it’s living process.  Seed, sprout, stem, flower, bloom, wilt. Start all over again. Similarly, we need to allow our blooming process to happen by surrendering to the growth that our heart and soul need.


Out of fear going too abstract, let me tell you about my parents’ divorce. I was around nine years old when I awoke to my parents’ fighting. I walked down stairs only to enter a storm. To attempt to end the storm, I took action and began cursing (I’d learned over the previous years that I would be punished by doing so.)  In this environment, cursing had no effect and my parents stayed focus on each other. In that moment, crying, I told myself the belief:

“I will never be in this situation again. I will control what I can and make sure to never lose it.”

Still, I fight my urge to control my surroundings incessantly.

However, last year alone, I finished Landmark’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program, went to couples relationship therapy with an amazing Imago Therapist, participated in a handful of medicine ceremonies with the tribal medicine ayahuasca, journalled on my own state of mind with the help of The Artist’s Way (affiliate link), and am now proud to say that I’m making real progress in my control freak ways.

And I’m much happier for it.

Your Turn ….

If you’ve made it this far, you might as well take 5 minutes to go a little deeper.

Get a pen and paper.

Write down the answers to the following:

  • What do you want to (finally) achieve next year?
  • What 3 limiting, old beliefs don’t support #1?
    • What has your belief cost you in the past, and what has it cost people you’ve loved in the past? What have you lost because of this belief? See it, hear it, feel it.
    • What is each costing you and people you care about in the present? See it, hear it, feel it.
    • What will each cost you and people you care about 1,3,5, and 10 years from now? See it, hear it, feel it.
  • What new beliefs will you start to work on in place of those limiting beliefs?
  • What new behaviors can you start to schedule and plan to create congruency?

speechbubblesWant to enhance the probability of your success after doing the Dickens Process for Pain? Comment below and tell me what came up for you. Putting words out of your head and into the world, with people who will uplift you no matter what, will make your goals and dreams for next year a greater possibility.

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Dr. Chris Stepien, DC, Full-Body ID Certified, ART Certified, CSCS, and CrossFit Level 1 Certified, fixes your annoying and frustrating pains, even when it's been over 6 months and you've seen 3-5 other doctors or therapists without lasting relief Barefoot Rehab in Denville, NJ. And when you're sad, depressed, or not enjoying life, Dr. Chris wants to hug you. He invites you to reach out, no matter what your concern is. Barefoot Rehab is here to serve you.
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  • Craig Chapman
    Posted at 19:18h, 27 December Reply

    Great stuff Chris. I have a major life change that I want to discuss with you asap.

    • Dr. Chris
      Posted at 21:07h, 27 December Reply

      You know where to find me my friend Chappy.

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