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A word about outcome independence

Discussion in 'Alan Gordon TMS Recovery Program' started by Alan Gordon LCSW, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Becca,
    Thanks for your response. I think part of my TMS is related to "taking a stand against reality," so acceptance is important. The fine point for me is "Can I allow my reactivity without identifying with it?"
     
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  2. Becca

    Becca Well known member

    This is a really good thing to realize. Perhaps this is kind of normal, part of the "human condition" if you will...I mean, to some extent, we all "take a stand against reality" -- TMSers and non-TMSers alike. Facing a reality that is difficult, or upsetting, or what have you is just tough. So avoidance is inevitable in life, I think. It'd be hard to find someone who faces various tough situations, head on, and just accepts them for what they are. (I'd say there's something wrong with that person.)

    I'm not quite sure what you mean by being able to allow your reactivity without identifying it. I am very intrigued, though...care to expand?
     
  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Becca, here's an example of "Allowing my reactivity without identifying with it."

    Yesterday I got really angry about a situation. I could feel myself being indignant, hurt, and and as a result, angry. I allowed myself to feel this in my body, and had compassion for myself, in my feelings. I also saw that I was identified, totally immersed in my anger. "I had a right to be angry." That is identification with it.

    But I also saw that it was a reaction of a hurt person, and I saw the history of that person, me. I see how I am often angry... So I didn't completely believe the rightness of the anger. I could see it as a reaction, not a clear state of understanding. I allowed it to be there, without judgement, because I can see the rightness of it from who I take myself to be, but I was larger than it. So I wasn't completely "identified with it."

    To me, it is a very fine line between rejecting an emotional state, making myself invalid for feeling it, and the condition as I describe above, where I am allowing it, seeing it, and not going along with it. That is a form of acceptance, to me.
     
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  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Andy,
    This is a very helpful explanation and very insightful. Thanks so much.
     
  5. Becca

    Becca Well known member

    Thanks for writing this, Andy (and for indulging me in that embarrassing oversight of that crucial word). I also LOVE what you wrote here (and agree 100% with it). That's definitely a form of acceptance to me too.

    What you describe is such a tricky balance. I wish I had the answer to it. Sure would make my life easier. I feel like being mindful helps. But you have to be mindful enough to be mindful (if that makes sense)...and when there are such strong emotions or reactions at play (ones that perhaps have a history of being rejected so are especially sensitive to being stifled), getting to a nonjudgmental, mindful place feels near-impossible. It isn't actually impossible, of course, but for me there are certainly times it feels that way.

    The example you gave really resonated with me too. I used to struggle a lot with anger. Actually, I think I struggled with this exact problem, of finding that balance between validating an enraging emotion or experience, yet not having it take over me/identify with it completely. I was a very, very angry child. But what made things worse, I think, was that I felt like I was my only advocate. No one else could understand why I was so angry or upset about something, and since I was so overcome with the rage at the situation AND the frustration at being, once again, not heard I continually wasn't able to express the anger, or my needs, in a way others could hear. (We had a name for that in my house growing up -- "good points, poor presentation.") So pushing down the anger or reactivity got to be near impossible, and rather painful. It was like I was denying myself the right to feel. It felt like I was turning on myself, betraying myself, and that the part of me that others supported was the part of me that rejected that anger. Needless to say, it was just awful.

    Now, though, I have the opposite problem. I'm terrified to feel anger, to express it, because I'm terrified of that turmoil coming back. I think at some point when I told my rage or anger to "beat it" it finally did, sort of, but I'm only human and there are some things in my life that do enrage me. I can see them and I can rationally say they're there and they just plain suck. Yet, I don't know how to fully feel the impact of them, or I'm scared of feeling them, or both. But as I have more experiences of being able to feel, validate, and let go of anger, I feel I have more information that I'm not going to spiral back into that angry child and completely fall apart again.

    Something I've found useful in getting me to a more mindful, balanced place is IFS therapy. It's a form of self-therapy (also can be done with a therapist) that a few of us here have used and found helpful. Through this approach, I've been able to separate myself (the core of myself, that is -- IFS simply calls it Self) from the part of me that is angry. Then I talk with that part, listen to it, hear its concerns, validate those concerns and its experience, and then when I'm able to, send it compassion. Through that process the strong, loud feeling of anger (and those fears that the anger will take over me) start to fade, and I can start to move on, without running away.

    It sounds a bit nutty, I know, but if you're open to things like this, I'd suggest looking into it. Just thinking about myself in "parts" as IFS teaches has helped me navigate that very fine line you described.
     
    Ellen likes this.
  6. TG957

    TG957 Well known member

    Thank you, Alan! In the moment of severe bursts of pain and stiffness in my hands and arms, I continue coming to your posts and talks! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
     
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  7. Mac07

    Mac07 New Member

    Spot On AG...You're a TMS warrior... armed with wisdom & compassion. Much obliged to all of your contributions and dedication to this site and the SEP program.

    Many Thanks & Deep appreciation
     
  8. OnTheRoad

    OnTheRoad Peer Supporter

    Right (write) on, Alan. Acceptance is key. I've been using Canadian yoga therapist/physiotherapist/pain specialist Neil Pearson's online self-management program in conjunction w/the TMS educational program, and find the overlap helpful. His exercises are all about mindfulness in conjunction w/body scans and gentle yoga or other exercise challenges done mindfully. Thanks for the reminder!
     
  9. saskia

    saskia New Member

    So true! Thank you Allan...
     
  10. bsarnopro

    bsarnopro New Member

    then I learned not only to ignore but to just not acknowledge it at all
    even while I was In the ignoring stage I was still wondering when was it gonna stop

    and it just seemed to stay there- so I took any thoughts I was giving to that shoulder and dropped them- decided to study more on other things
    I mean after all if im gonna be outcome dependent I might as well know its gonna heal without me trying to force it to heal huh
    so when I did this approach the pain did leave ....posted by Eric Herbie Watson

    Hi, Herbie
    That is such a great line! Our brains are so creative and smart-,that small, soft, inner voice still asking will it go away,continues to fan the flames! I whole heartedly agree that not giving our symptom any credence at all is way to go, I like to say: Brain, i figured out your tricks, now just leave my ________ alone! and then i just feel like i'm "walking away" from it and/or through it ie; not stopping the activity or giving in to the pain/symptom. (Hope even that statement is considered not acknowledging :))
    I was just wondering what was meant by "decided to study more on other things.. I might as well know if its gonna heal...." it sounds like still looking into/thinking about the symptoms, how would that approach make the pain leave?
     
  11. elizabeth24

    elizabeth24 Newcomer

    First Zumba exercise after a year and a half break! so proud of myself. I just kept saying to myself: It doesn't matter if it'll hurt, I don't care, I'm working out anyway!
    and you know what? It didn't hurt the whole time! and not even afterwards!
    Hoping to write again with some more good news.
    Thank you Alan so much!
     
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  12. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    At the moment I'm suffering from upper back pain and anxiety. I'm practicing outcome independence for the pain. My anxiety is tied into my pain. The pain makes me anxious and conversly, my anxiety seems to cause pain.

    My anxiety is mostly about an upcoming life event which is triggering guilt and other nasty stuff from childhood as well as fear caused by more recent traumatic events. Every time I think of the upcoming event I get a surge of anxiety.

    Can outcome independence help anxiety and if so what should be my thoughts when I feel a surge of anxiety?
     
  13. Mountain Girl

    Mountain Girl Peer Supporter

    Hi Alan, I know this thread is a bit old, but you have described me and my thinking to a T: "When you have a good walk, you feel happy, optimistic, feeling like you're on the right track. When you have a bad walk, you feel down, defeated, bad about yourself and your prospect of ever getting rid of the pain."

    I'm currently doing battle with foot TMS (both feet, but primarily the right foot), but I've overcome various forms of TMS over the years, including several years of debilitating hip pain that made it almost impossible for me to walk. For some reason, I'm finding my foot pain harder to accept as TMS. My brain keeps thinking my feet are injured or strained or inflammed, despite no visible signs (such as swelling or discoloration) of injury and no moment of trauma. I also went to physiotherapy initially and the therapist finally told me that he could do no more for me, that he thought my feet were essentially fine because I could do all of his "tests" without pain or restricted movement. He also agreed that it was probably a mental block at this point. So I am sure it is TMS (especially because I am a worrier, a goodist, a perfectionist in my work life, and so on...). I have read Dr. Sarno's book The MindBody Perscription many times...but the process is still hard each time. Whenever I have foot pain, I feel enormously defeated, trapped in my body, afraid I'll never walk freely again...and the cycle continues. I need to break this cycle of thinking and I think your suggestion will help. I have been focusing obsessively on outcomes: how bad was the pain today, how far was I able to walk, etc., and it's keeping my mind on my feet at all times, fulfilling the TMS purpose.

    Thank you for sharing your ideas...

    If you have any other suggestions, I would love to read them.
     
  14. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    So true! Surely our expectations are blueprints for the next relapse. Thank you, Alan.
     
  15. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    I just saw your query re outcome independence and anxiety. They may be linked in that we expect something to be wrong, we are wired to watch for negative feelings whether in the body or mind. We look for what's wrong! Then, we find it. There. I knew something was wrong with me.
    If anxiety is fear of the unknown, then understanding it is just fear of pain solves that. We fear pain. When we name what we are afraid of and then put a lie to it, to dispel the fear, e.g., "My thinking and brain cause my pain, there is nothing wrong with me!" Then the anxiety, the fear, passes. Same with any emotion.
    I heard a great acronym for fear - it's perfect for we who have survived trauma: Future Experience Already
    Ruined. The cure for this is knowing that trauma insists on paying itself forward and we can choose to think differently, over and over and over until we re-wire and begin to trust.
    Hope that is a bit helpful?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2017
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  16. Picklechick

    Picklechick New Member

    Hi. I am finding it difficult to move my focus away from ongoing bladder pain and urge to go to the bathroom. How do I ignore an outcome when there is no related activity? I'm new and appreciate any guidance. Thank you.
     
  17. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ooh, you are SUCH a perfectionist! Taking "activity" SO literally.

    Sorry, but I have to laugh a bit. We've all been there, we've all done that, believe me. Your perfectionism and related literalism are the first things that gotta go.

    You are going to want to work on opening up your mind to the wider possibilities and to many more flexible interpretations - this will be essential to your recovery!

    My specific response: of course there is a related activity! The activity is urinating. Or it's not urinating. It's anticipating the need to urinate. It's hoping to not urinate, obsessing about how often you urinate, and measuring how much you urinate.

    Good luck - there's a wealth of information and support on this forum!

    ~Jan
     
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  18. Picklechick

    Picklechick New Member

    Ahh, I get it. So glad to have found this forum and thank you for responding Jan.
     
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  19. jokeysmurf

    jokeysmurf Well known member

    I think Outcome Independence is by far the hardest one. #1. The tendency to want to monitor or not monitor symptoms. #2. accepting that the pain is caused by a fear response. #3. trying to get rid of the pain. #4. Not responding with fear. #5. trying to get back into living life.
     
  20. jen s

    jen s New Member

    I just can't grasp this one. I will never be indifferent about pain. If you ask me if I like it or want it, I will always say no. Not many people are truly indifferent about pain -- goes against human nature. I'm would imagine if you asked anyone of this forum if they wanted or liked pain they would say no, otherwise they wouldn't be here. It this about pretending to not care or telling yourself you don't care, even though deep down you do? I can't really change my actual preference on this. Help me understand. I know this might be a key to my healing, but can not "not care". I hate this pain more than anything right now.
     
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