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Day 25 Closeted inner child

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by swandive, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. swandive

    swandive New Member

    I'm doing actually pretty well at Day "25" (in quotes due to time proceeding more consistently than my program compliance). My elbows have almost been entirely pain-free, even with typing and sporadic tests of activities I could never do before without triggering pain (swimming, yoga, chopping food, traveling with unchecked luggage etc.). It's truly bizarre that reading about TMS could send a person from entirely working though dictating and foot-mousing, using capsaicin cream daily, sleeping with immobilizing braces, and the list goes on and on, to someone living entirely normally, without the expectation that any particular activity may result in pain and tears. It is truly as though I stepped into another person's life and my own fantasy life.

    However, now I've turned my focused to the origins of this pain--prioritizing externally based perfectionism over my inner child that embodies intrinsically motivated creativity, curiosity, and hyper-focus. I certainly am no professional yet at eradicating my preoccupation with external approval--just this week I spent five days in trigger hell, also known as the academic conference and had several delightful days of spontaneous elbow pain and migraines. Nonetheless, I am very curious and apprehensive about the possibility of turning the misery/exhaustion/envy and subsequent cruelty that accompanies perfectionism to the joy/energy/creativity and subsequent compassion that accompanies those rare moments of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of "flow." I think graduate school and academia have fostered my perfectionism (similar to many of us in professional positions--aka the "paradox of privilege"), but I believe myself vulnerable to developing perfectionistic tendencies due to my natural reticence to engage in intrinsically motivated activities which foster flow. Hopefully down the line I will have some helpful strategies to share with the forum about transforming from a mouse energetically and ceaselessly pushing the button that stimulates the "maybe I'll get external validation" neurotransmitter until I croak into the mouse energetically and ceaselessly building cheese art or whatever stimulates my flow. If anyone on the forum has somehow managed to pull that musical-montage worthy transformation off, I would love to hear their advice!
    chrisami and Helix like this.
  2. chrisami

    chrisami New Member

    I have to post something because I enjoyed the metaphors you used! Also I am an academic and can sympathise with some of the pressures you describe. Indeed, I am also highly addicted to the drug of external validation, but have only realised that recently. Keep on educating and learning more about yourself swandive, and I hope you continue to get a handle on your TMS!
    swandive likes this.
  3. nowtimecoach

    nowtimecoach Well known member

    I love this sentence
    Can I just say YES! YES! YES! When I turned the corner of healing with that same curiosity that you are talking about, it was a huge leap for me in this process. I have pain but my approach and reaction to it is so completely different than when I started. That is why I know I will someday be completely symptom free like so many others on this forum.Looking forward to more of your posts!
    swandive likes this.
  4. swandive

    swandive New Member

    Thanks for both your comments! Just today I thought about the psychological concept of "self-objectification," where women are often more sexually aroused by someone being attracted to them than from looking at someone attractive, and wondered if that is what I constantly do to myself, outside of the romantic sphere. I.e. I wonder if every move I make I process as someone looking at me make it, rather than experiencing myself doing it? Here's to all of us managing to stay the course on this journey inward and escape the mindset of (externally based) perfectionism...
  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Swandive,
    I enjoyed reading your post.

    I, too, found myself trapped in this need to be engaged in productive activity rather than just engaging in activity for the shear joy of it. For me, I realized this stems from a chronic very low self esteem, whereby I could only justify my existence by producing rather than just being. It is even deeper than the need for external validation as I do this to justify my existence even to myself. I'm working on it, but it goes back very far and is very deep.

    I look forward to hearing more from you on any strategies you have discovered. Are you able to work on your cheese art without wondering if it will be the best cheese art the art scene has seen?
  6. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Mindfulness meditation has helped me immensely with this. I am now more aware of 'the observer and the observed' in my own mind. Much can be done with that awareness as it gives us the 'space' to make choices.

    Best wishes....
  7. swandive

    swandive New Member

    That is definitely something I am trying to do. I suppose it makes sense that we constantly move to an external perspective when so often our internal lives are filled with fear/anger/shame/sadness/boredom that is pretty uncomfortable to breathe into. I do hope with more MM practice that as time passes that my first instinct in response to those feelings will be to just stop and listen to them, instead of ruminating or distracting myself from them.
  8. swandive

    swandive New Member

    Ha! I doubt it! But then again I would have smacked someone upside the face if they had told me my chronic pain could mostly disappear through "education" and "journaling", so there's always a chance, right? W/ respect to our other conversation on living the experience of fear/anger/shame/sadness/boredom I was thinking that perhaps that is the key to joy as well, in that normalizing living life in the present will lead to not only greater awareness of the dark feelings and their triggers, but also of the joyful/creative/curious/explosively energetic feelings and their triggers as well. Yes that is a fairly transparent behavioral science attempt to hoping life could be as simple as identifying predictors of good feelings and imposing them on myself constantly...
  9. chrisami

    chrisami New Member

    Very interesting responses everyone, its great to read your insights. You know it got me thinking, and over the coarse of the last week or so, I've come to the conclusion that I've forgotten how to have fun! There is no room in my life for doing something that isn't related to work, or a hobby that I tell myself is fun, but upon closer inspection is about trying to be better than others (at music, art, sport, or X, Y, Z...). It all ties in with this need for external validation. I used to enjoy music and playing badminton, but that was long ago. I've not done either of those things for a while now, because I realised I had begun to strongly dislike them! At the time I didn't know why, but I see now it was all about trying to be the best - I'm ashamed to admit it to myself, it sounds terrible, but it was very simple and clear: I wanted to be better than others in order to get their praise. When that inevitably didn't happen, my drug addiction (to external validation) wasn't being met.

    I think its very important to have some activities which are fun and for which you don't care about the outcome, i.e. you are not trying to achieve something. However its been so long now, that I fear every activity I try to do for leisure is in danger of being corrupted by this desire to excel. I know that sounds pretentious, and I am not saying I'm great at loads of things, because that's not true: but deep down, don't we all want to be the best at everything?
    Ellen likes this.
  10. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Those of us with TMS do :)

    Don't work too hard on having fun :D
    chrisami likes this.
  11. hne913

    hne913 New Member

    Thank you for this post - I quit doing things that bring 'flow' into my life. I have ready in so many psychological places (books, websites, etc.) the importance of flow for wellbeing. It was a good reminder that flow is part of taking care of myself. Now... to start slowly bringing some of those back into my life. :)
    Ellen likes this.
  12. swandive

    swandive New Member

    I completely understand where you're coming from. So many passions of mine have been destroyed with the drive for external validation. So how the f#&k (putting on my polite face for y'all) can we a) get back in touch with intrinsic motivation and b) savor and prioritize internal over external motivators? Everyone who has posted feel free to share if you stumble upon the secret to not working too hard on having fun ;)
    chrisami likes this.

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