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Day 5 Can't journal because of egoic defences

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by zclesa, Jun 2, 2019.

  1. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    OK, my main egoic defence is intellectualisation. I am also very detached from my "felt sense of self" and feelings.

    I imagine that in order for journaling to be effective, to unrepress emotions and to be cathartic, you actually need to feel your feelings as you write.

    I know that if I write about one of my past traumas, I will be writing intellectually. I already know how I felt about what happened, but I won't be able to feel it as I write. It will feel like a factual account (including I felt X and Y), but not something my "inner child" might write. I can't connect with my inner child.

    I have talked to my counsellor about some of these events already and I don't get upset when I talk about them. It's more like I'm giving a statement, even though I recognise the precise horrible feelings these things caused, I'm not feeling them when I talk about them.

    I have read the page on journaling tips. Does anyone else have any advice on this for my specific situation? Would it be helpful to do something else first to help me better feel my feelings? Many thanks if you have any ideas.
  2. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    I think I only "felt" the emotions while journaling on a handful of my journals. I don't think that's an issue. I think the key is just to make sure you are writing that X & Y event made me feel _____. Don't let yourself just recite the facts of the event. Write about how you felt, even if you don't feel it now. The other thing that helped me is not thinking about what you want to write. Literally write whatever pops into your head, even if it seems outrageous or even nonsensical. Let the logical part of your brain play the therapist role. If you write "I was angry," ask yourself "why was I so angry." Just keep digging to see if you can come up with something a little deeper.
    Ellen and zclesa like this.
  3. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    Thank you, that's interesting. And it still helped?

    I actually am a psychotherapist, lol, so you can be sure I'll be digging deeply! ;)

    I asked my counsellor if I should do something Gestalt-y (my issue comes from my mother being a Narcissist), and she said "Only with me - otherwise I think you' might 'prepare' or 'rehearse' it." So a really good point about not preparing, but just writing what occurs to you even if it seems ridiculous. No self-censoring or writing what you think you "should". I now wonder if my entire question there was actually a sign of my perfectionism and need to be sure I'm doing things right :rolleyes:
  4. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    Yaaaay perfectionism! Isn't it fun! It's a pain, but also makes us great!

    Anyway, the free-write method did help me. I was amazed at some of the stuff I wrote. Lots of thoughts I was not comfortable with, but I got used to it. I've since told my wife she is to burn my journal if anything ever happens to me. Nobody should ever see what is in there.

    I see a counselor too. I find I am less censored with my journals. Even if you feel super comfortable with a professional, I feel like there is still always a little bit of restraint or resistance to really letting it all out. My guy really has to press me. Whereas with journaling, I had a few instances where I started feeling calm, but by the end I was crying hysterically, yelling "Fuck you!" at people, or throwing my pen across the room.
    zclesa likes this.
  5. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    Totally unrelated, just saw you're from London. That's awesome. My wife and I have been there twice and loved it! Don't think we will be back anytime soon though :(
    zclesa likes this.
  6. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    Wow, I'll definitely not let my concerns stop me from starting my journalling then. Sounds like it could work wonders.

    Yes, I've lived in London for 20 years. I grew up in Sussex, but "escaped" to London to go to uni. And apart from a short stint in Berlin (related to my studies), I've lived in London ever since. It's true what Dr. Johnson said: "When a man is tired of London, he's tired of life." It's a great place, always stuff going on. Even just having a mindful wander around places you know, there's always something you hadn't noticed before - a bit of interesting architecture, or whatever. Even the graffiti is stunning, lol.
  7. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    Well I don't know why I was so worried. I just did my first journal and was bawling my eyes out! My journal is now very soggy! I found that closing my eyes helped me to just write without censoring. Many of the word were just repeated. Little phrases. The word "Sad" over and over again.

    I started writing as an adult, then turned into the child, then I ended up writing to myself as a child to whom this event happened and reassuring myself. I let myself cry and cry and gave myself a hug afterwards.

    Didn't get to the anger yet, and I can still feel stuff inside like not everything "came out" but that's OK. It was powerful to be able to do this anyway. I will definitely journal on this event again as I feel there is stuff left, but for now it's enough that I was able to cry freely and comfort my "little girl".
  8. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    Yay! Awkward cheering on crying, but it's good in this case. Ending on positive/reassuring notes like you did is always good too. Have to take care of the old inner child, just like a real kid. Let the emotion out then try to reign it back in a little with the good old logical part of the brain. I hope the journals continue to help. Just remember, go at your own pace.
  9. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    Thank you. It was weird how it happened. I didn't consciously choose to go adult-child-adult. It just happened. Yay for crying! dancea It was obviously needed!
  10. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I found it helpful during journaling to write how I feel about the feelings I may have had or have now. For example, I may have felt scared about something when I was a child, but since I was taught my feelings were not valid, I felt a lot of shame about my scared feelings, therefore I repressed them (or currently repress). This leads to uncovering internal conflict, which I personally feel is at the heart of my TMS. Another example is if I feel anger toward a parent, but feel that it is wrong to feel that way, then I am conflicted. I specifically focus on all the "shoulds" that come up in journaling. I feel X, but I should feel Y.
    zclesa likes this.
  11. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    Thanks Ellen. There seem to be so many ways of journalling! I did go down my "past traumas" list and note my actual emotions next to each item, and then I put in brackets after them what perhaps I "should" have felt, but I haven't tried journalling that way yet. Yes, internal conflict. I was very much taught that none of my feelings or needs mattered at all by my mum. I couldn't feel angry at my mother for this, because I obviously depended on her for my survival (especially as my dad was away a lot and then they got divorced).
    Ellen likes this.
  12. Chris1138

    Chris1138 New Member

    I just tried my first journalling session. I sat down and immediately had the same challenges as you @zclesa. I found myself writing descriptions of the events and analyzing it rather than tapping into my emotions. As I wrote, my sciatica just exploded. My leg was in tremendous pain and I started to get frustrated that I couldn't access my emotions. I remember seeing this thread and came here to see what tips people could offer. Well @ssxl4000 your suggestion to just starting writing feelings I felt at the time sure worked - I'm surprised at how fast everything bubbled up and how I was actually talking to myself and reassuring my child-self.

    There's definitely a lot still trapped inside, but I don't even remember the last time I truly 'felt' emotions that strongly - positive or negative. It's sort of energizing.
    zclesa likes this.
  13. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    How funny - we did the same thing Chris. I don't know what happened, but I ended up reassuring my inner child too. It was very intuitive, not actually something I thought I should do.

    I'm so glad it ended up working well for you too. :)
  14. Chris1138

    Chris1138 New Member

    Yes, it was a really strange sensation to find myself involuntarily talking to my child self! I think I cut myself a little short though and maybe bottled things up again too quickly.

    I'm a little concerned that ever since the journalling my symptoms seemed to be heightened. I went for a walk after and my leg pain was much worse than usual. I'm also now much more aware of these feelings that I have buried for a long time. Is this normal? Do I need to dig deeper in the same painful past event? Is this pain an extinction burst or my brain trying to distract me from digging deeper?
    zclesa likes this.
  15. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    Howdy Chris...I don't think it matters if the pain is an extinction burst or more distraction...I think those two are basically the same. You are trying break the pain cycle by thinking emotionally, that will result in your brain's "tantrum" getting worse for a bit. It did for me. It is definitely a sign of progress, albeit an annoying, uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful one. Just keep remembering it's part of the process. Hopefully, knowing where the pain is coming from will take some of it's sting away.

    Regarding your journaling...I found myself at the beginning wanting to kick the crap out of my "Dark side," that was holding all of this anger, fear, stress, etc. But after a few sessions I realized that my dark side was actually just my scared inner child, turned angry after years of neglect. That changed my perspective on things. I'm glad you and zclesa have already gotten there. The inner child definitely needs some love. Boundaries too, but lots of love.
    zclesa likes this.
  16. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    Chris, ever since I started reading about TMS a couple of weeks ago, and knew that's what I had, my left hand has gone completely numb. Funny old brain. And yes, I found the day after journalling, my symptoms kicked up for a while. I certainly see this as progress - my brain knows I'm onto it. I'm just ignoring my hand and sometimes if symptoms rev up, I say to myself kindly but firmly "You don't have to protect me anymore. It's OK." or something to that effect to let my unconscious know that it doesn't need to produce these symptoms. Then I go back to ignoring it.

    Yes, it is normal to be more aware of your feelings. That's what you want. Use Somatic Tracking to teach yourself that it's OK and safe to have these feelings. If you need to self-soothe a bit, then do it. I believe this is all about being kind but firm with ourselves.

    Like you, I felt I hadn't fully explored the event as it felt like there was some residue was left, so I will return to that event at some point and journal it again. I don't know if it will be my next journal, or whether I will pick a different event. I'm just going to go with whatever I feel like doing. Don't worry (or be perfectionistic) about what order to do things in.

    Thank you so much for your help SSXL. It has been really valuable.
    ssxl4000 likes this.
  17. Chris1138

    Chris1138 New Member

    Thanks for the reassurance @zclesa and @ssxl4000. Yesterday was pretty bad pain-wise and I found myself really unable to 'think psychologically' and instead was fixated on the pain which of course makes it worse. Today, seems much better so far.
    zclesa likes this.
  18. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    Glad you're much better today, Chris. It is very difficult to think psychologically when you are in so much pain. But, you can give yourself a break and do something else helpful instead. For example, I have a TMS equivalent called Vestibular Migraine, and daily symptoms include fatigue, nausea, dizziness, imbalance, brain fog, tinnitus, head pressure - and at the very worst, a face-folding migraine. I actually don't get the migraine headache often, but since doing this work, I have had three days of migraine headache.

    Now that sort of headache is really debilitating. I can push through imbalance, nausea etc, but I can not always push through the migraine headache. So, today I was trying to read about TMS but the headache was worsening all the time. So I dyed my hair, something I have not done in about a year because showering makes me dizzy. The headache completely disappeared while I was doing it, as I was totally focussed on the activity of dying my hair. In fact, I had no symptoms at all except brain fog.

    That was both a way of distracting myself from the pain and also teaching my brain that I'm not afraid of dying my hair or showering. It was an empowering thing to do, since my symptoms had previously prevented me from dying my hair. And I also felt a lot better about myself (it covered the few sneaky grey hairs I have).

    So, at times when it's impossible to think psychologically, do something distracting instead, something empowering, something that makes you feel better about yourself, or something to teach your brain you are NOT afraid of your symptoms. Do what you can, when you can. All of the above are good strategies for NOT focusing on the physical, which is so important.

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