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From ‘It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen’, to ‘Fake News’

By Noigroup HQ Education for all 01 Mar 2019


If you were alive and watching TV in Australia in the 90s, the phrase “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen” will be burned into your memory. The commercial for shampoo, featuring New Zealander Rachel Hunter, spawned hundreds of parodies and a catchphrase that stuck. It’s a rather useful catchphrase though, as it suggests patience and persistence, avoiding quick fixes, and perhaps even hard work and resilience.

It also makes for a useful Neuroscience Nugget, in fact, it’s the title of Nugget Number 48:
From Explain Pain Supercharged, Moseley and Butler, Noigroup Publications 2017

Looking for new catchphrases

We’ve been looking for some other pop-culture catchphrases from the noughties or the twenty-tens that might be used to construct memorable pain science narratives. So far it hasn’t been great. Looking at the “Word of the Year” list; 2002 gave us Weapons of Mass Destruction, 2005 added truthiness, 2008 was characterised by the bailout of the big banks with tax dollars, 2016 was a dumpster fire, and 2017 brought us Fake News!

We need your help.

If you have any up to date, positive and memorable memes or catchphrases that you use to Explain Pain, share them with the world below (no Milkshake Ducks though)!


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  1. Leah cook

    I used the description this week with one of my patients. That having foot surgery would be like changing only one tyre on her car. I’m sure you guys could use this phrase in a neuroscientifically positive way, or nugget! I’m confident I will use it again. If I remember!

  2. Donal Scanlan

    If you don’t make time for your wellness you will make time for your illness! Taken from 2 dudes on a health website – Brian Johnson

  3. Jake Logie

    If it was meant to be easy, everyone would be doing it.

    Get comfortable at being uncomfortable

  4. Sinead Little

    Better to Wear Away than Rust Away
    Working in rural Scotland I meet and treat a lot of people from the farming community, who in general are far more accepting that ‘wear and tear’ is a natural process and (because they have livestock to care for) have to simply get on with life even if they are sore. They also recognise that staying active is key to keeping on top of their symptoms and prevent their joints seizing up. I used to give lengthy explanations as to why being active is important till one farmer summarized my speech with this catch phrase. It’s one of my favourite phrases.

  5. Sarah

    ‘Your best posture is your next posture’. Morgan Freeman.

  6. Marjolein

    Fake it ‘til you make it.

    I watched a TED talk about body poses – ie an athlete who has done well or won ie puts arms up in the air strongly. This person’s research indicated that doing these body poses could be the start of a change of attitude ie make you feel more positive. I like thinking this for movement, maybe if you “fake moving without pain” you will actually move without pain.

  7. Robert Moore

    I like to use the story of banging my thumb with a hammer. The reaction is to grab it and squeeze it tight to control or numb the pain. I can squeeze of hold tight enough to numb the pain. I can continue to holdon and I can control the pain with tension but now I have lost function and use of my hand. The next step to restore function is to let go. It can be scary and initially it may hurt a lot but once I do it, I get my hand back, I feel what is going on and I can allow my natural healing systems to work without me getting in the way.

  8. Derek Rust

    When I went through the Mayo Clinic’s ‘Pain Management’ Course a few years ago they talked about chronic pain being ‘like a grumpy uncle to comes to visit for the weekend, and then doesn’t leave!’
    I’ve always used that to describe my pain to others.
    Thanks for all the work you do.

  9. davidbutler0noi

    I love them – thanks!


  10. Ginger

    I know this isn’t exactly what you were asking for (a 7 minute video extends far beyond what I would call a meme), but it’s interesting and useful none the less so I’ll share it

    Totally unrelated to backwards bicycles, could you use the term ‘catfish’ to somehow explain pain? They look like your dream date, they sound like your dream date, but when you surprise visit them, they turn out to be some 40 yr old loser living in their parents basement…
    Oh wait, that’s not very positive is it? Never mind 😉

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