How Do You Tolerate Anticipated Physical Pain?

One of the most intense scenes in the movie Fight Club involves Brad Pitt using homemade soap materials to burn a permanent scar into Edward Norton’s hand. Norton’s character tries to escape the pain through meditation, but Pitt forces him to stay with the pain.

I was reminded of this scene today during my latest laser hair treatment. It was my fourth visit, and the specialist has increased the power level of the laser each time. At today’s level, it felt like static electricity shocks, dozens of them every few seconds.

In previous visits, I’ve simply tried to distract myself by thinking about game design–anything to keep me occupied. Essentially, I tried to daydream while someone was stinging me in the neck. It worked on those visits, but with the increased power level, it wasn’t as effective today.

So I tried Pitt’s version of fully experiencing each shock, envisioning myself inside of it, ridding myself of pesky ingrown hairs. That worked okay, though I was still eager for it to end.

At the end of the appointment, I bought a numbing gel to apply next month when I return. I’ve resisted using it so far, but the specialist is going up to the highest power level, and I’m not sure I have the mental fortitude to handle the increase.

Do you have any mental tricks or tips for handling incoming, anticipated physical pain?