Are you ready to live pain-free? | Seven pain-changing questions to ask yourself today

It’s one week into the spanking new decade. I hope your new year resolutions are going splendidly well.

With Sarah Pang (Singapore tennis player) and Ryan Lochte (US swimming Olympian) in the news recently – for polarisingly different reasons – I want to discuss what you can learn from them, and how you can tap into their life lessons to enhance your treatment outcomes.

“I spoke to the coaches and I said, do you think it’s possible (for me to play pro)?” she recalled. “And the verdict was: ‘It is possible Sarah, but you are carbon right now, to play pro you need to be diamond’.

“I was like: ‘The answer is not no! I can use this to go back and find sponsors in Singapore.'”

But Pang was unable to. Taking a leap of faith, she decided to return to Spain.

#1 Understand probability; but keep your eyes on the prize!

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Would you bet $1 if you had a 80 chance of willing $9 million dollars According to Mothership somebody in Singapore won a whopping S$97 million in Toto winnings over the new year

Perhaps one of the things we often overlook is potential.

Some people would ask why is there a 20% chance that they would not get better (because “only” over 80% of my clients achieve their recovery goals in 4 to 7 visits). Their expectation is that good chiropractors to deliver 100% recovery, 100% of the time.

The truth is such odds just simply don’t exist in real life.

Good chiropractors provide you with the relevant information pertaining to your recovery. From there, we provide treatments to optimise your chances of recovery so you can live the life you want to live as soon as reasonably possible.

Let’s look at this from another angle: If you have an 80% chance of winning the Toto group 1 prize (minimum guaranteed win of $1 million), would you bet on it?

As in the case of Sarah, the sponsors weren’t willing to bet on her career.

For their own reasons, they didn’t believe she could make it.

When the sponsors wouldn’t take a leap of faith with her, Sarah decided she would bet on herself.

Question 1: Are you willing to bet on yourself to recover?

#2 Success does not always come in a heartbeat

One of her lowest points came in 2017, when Pang was left with S$1.87 in her bank account.

“I sat at the bottom of my void deck and didn’t want to go up. I didn’t want my parents to see me like that,” she explained. “As I was crying and my body was shaking from grief and frustration, I knew … I was exactly meant to be experiencing that point,” said Pang, who is a Christian.

Guess when did Sarah started playing in the pro circuit? 2015.

Sarah was no Ryan. Ryan won his first Olympic gold and set a world record when he was 19 while Sarah only received Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles’ rankings at the at the age of 34.

Sarah worked hard AND long for her success.

Most of us expect recovery to happen in the heartbeat.

“I want to walk out of your office pain-free.”

In reality, that actually does happen. We know certain treatments (chiropractic adjustments, massage) do give make people feel A LOT better right after.

The problem? It doesn’t last.

At Square One, I focus only on long-term results. This means I work with you so you don’t have to keep coming back. The downside is that you aren’t gonna see instantaneous results.

You’d also have to work long and hard.

(Personally, I am also working on working long and hard. I started Square One Active Recovery in Jan 2018 and I paid myself a wage for the first time at the new year of Jan 2020. Believe it or not, most of the wage will be returning back into the business. This is the reality of working long and hard for what you want.)

Question 2: Are you willing to work long and hard for the coveted pain-free living? 

#3 It takes a village to raise a child

It takes a community to change anything.

From a lady in church who handed her a cheque for S$50,000 to the sole supporter who cheered her on as she earned a long-awaited point which led to a WTA singles ranking, Pang has had many in her corner.

Most people try to journey their recovery alone. I strongly recommend against that.

Recovery is rough. You have good days and bad days. You may also have very bad days when things just don’t seem to be going your way.

Having a good support network is important.

You want to have a shoulder to cry one. You want to have a shoulder you are comfortable crying on.

If you have been living with your pain for a while now and nothing seems to work, seek professional help from the true professionals!

(Avoid the wannabes who over-promise and under-delivers at all cost.)

You may also want to read our previous blog post on what it means to be approachable.

Question 3: Are you willing to seek for the help you need?

#4 Where you start matters less than how you journey

Lochte says he went from making “well over $1 million” a year to earning $75,000 from a single sponsor. When Rodriguez met up with him, he and his wife had already downsized from a 4,200 square-foot home to an 1,800 square-foot apartment, but Lochte was still spending beyond his means and was quickly headed into debt.

Be realistic with what you have and work with what you have.

It’s okay to go slow!

We blogged about The Unsuccessful Patient before previously and that was an interesting case. There are two instances that we could think of that could have made a very big difference on that specific client’s recovery:

  • Willing to accept that she has been living with chronic pain for a while and that she should take professional advice to take it slow
  • When things start to fall apart, it’s not the flight or freeze that matters. It’s about taking the time to process than respond accordingly (i.e. observe – process – respond). She could have just as remarkable a recovery if she was willing to work with treatment process instead of over-focusing on her pain experience. She could. Nobody knows for sure.

To a large extend, don’t miss the forest for the trees.

This reminds me of Kenny Leck’s BooksActually story. He came from a low-income family but he make-it-happen.

Not by magic though! When bookstores started moving towards selling non-books merchandise – because they bring in more money – he focused on process of marketing and selling books. In short, he didn’t chase the money. Process over outcomes.

p.s. Kenny also worked long and hard 🙂

Question 4: Are you willing to focus on the treatment process instead of chasing (treatment) outcomes? 

#5 With a growth mindset, you can take action

Today, thanks to help from Rodriguez, Lochte has increased his income by doing speaking engagements and teaching swim clinics, and makes sure to set aside a portion of his earnings for the future. He’s also eliminated expenses he doesn’t necessarily need, like his Porsche, which was costing him $835 a month.

This somewhat links to the previous point.

As her the case with the unsuccessful patient, a growth mindset will translate to asking where can I go now from here?

In the case of Lochte, we see him going from riches to rags.

But did he stop there?

Did Sarah stop at the void deck with $1.87 in her bank account?

They didn’t.

Retrospectively, we know people rise from their lowest point with time. In your current head space and with your current pain experience, it might be hard to visualise the reality of it happening. And that is okay!

All it takes is to not give up.

If you are at you are at your lowest point today, check out our previous post on how to ‘zhng’ up your new decade. Task #1 is particularly important and you can definitely act on it now.


Question 5: Are you willing to keep trying in times of painful despair? 

#6 Recovery doesn’t stop at your last treatment

Plus, no matter how much you bring home, it’s important to keep your spending in check, he adds: “You have to budget your expenses. That’s something that I never did when I was younger — all this money was flowing through, I didn’t have a family at the time and I was living carefree and buying all this random stuff. And it caught up to me.”

This is why I always emphasise on focusing on the process!

Pain is often multifactorial in nature. That is, there are many variables that collectively contribute to your pain experience.

If you are thinking of trying to solve a root problem to get rid of your pain, you are definitely going down the wrong rabbit hole.

Watch this awesome TED talk by Julia Gover no pain.

Living a pain-free is often a byproduct of healthy living. This means regular exercise, a healthy diet, good psychosocial support at home, high work gratification/fulfillment, work-life balance, etc. All of these matters!

In essence, recovery is not about getting rid of the “root causes”. It’s about a mindset shift and adopting long-term healthy behaviours as well.

Question 6: Are you willing to commit to giving a shot at living a healthy lifestyle? 

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If your answers to the above six are-you-willing questions are loud, resounding yeses, then you are 100% ready to start recovery.

Note well: None of the questions are about if you can or cannot, if you have or have not.

At the end of the day, attributing blame to what you have or do not have, what you have done or have not done, is not conducive to giving you the pain-free lifestyle you desire. That will, in fact, be a fixed mindset approach.

I talk about your willingness to move forward. Because it is the growth mindset that will maximise the success of your recovery outcomes.

If your answer to any of the above questions is no, it doesn’t mean you are not ready to start getting better!

What is more important is to be aware of the limitation of your willingness in the context of achieving your desired recovery goals. And if you are willing, consider understanding why you might be feeling this way.

Without further ado, our question:

#7 Are you ready to take action today?



Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.