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Conditioning confusion,please help!

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Solange, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    I have managed to overcome a number of conditioned responses in the last few months and am working on others but I seem to be stuck in a loop at the moment with one.
    I find it really difficult to bend to put on my socks and take them off, some days I manage it but never feel in control and other days, like yesterday, I feel anxious about doing it, do it anyway and then end up with a lot of discomfort. I've been struggling with this for the last month or so and the Fred Amir suggestion of reward and punishment has been only partially successful.
    Now, here's the thing: I've tried doing visualization and frequent affirmations regarding this and other conditioned responses but at the moment this is just making me think more and more about how I feel and building up my anxiety about doing the conditioned activity and getting me stuck in a thinking physically throughout the day. So I'd really appreciate your thoughts on the following:

    If I feel anxious about initiating a conditioned activity should I do it?
    If I don't,am I giving into the fear and feeding the TMS?
    If I subsequently have pain of duration should I back off until I feel confident and try again or just keep doing it anyway?
    How do I deal with this pain and think about it psychologically when actually I feel pretty calm in my head and things are generally good outside this activity?
    I guess I feel this is an activity I should do.Is this part ofthe problem?
    Help please!
  2. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I noticed that other day that I could reach down around my left leg and tie my shoe laces. 6 months ago I couldn't. But I haven't been trying to accomplish that as a self-conscious task. I just noticed it the other day when I wasn't really trying or forcing myself to do it. Instead, I've been working first on the SEP and then later continuing to meditate. It seems like improvement occurs when you're not monitoring your condition or trying to force yourself to perform an activity. In other words, improvement occurs when you're not trying. I think the English Romantic poet John Keats called the phenomenon, "Negative capability", and our own Alan Gordon has referred to it as "Outcome independence".

    You might want to check out Alan's TMS Recovery Program on the TMS Wiki:


    It's designed specifically for people having trouble eliminating their physical symptoms.
  3. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    Hi BruceMC and thanks for your very encouraging reply.What I wouldn't give to tie my own shoelaces! Now there's a phrase I never thought I'd utter......I have just started this very evening to look at Alan Gordon's program and it seems like it will be extremely helpful. I am a bit stuck on the idea that things won't happen if I don't set goals and try to achieve them,as indeed some programs suggest you do, but I'm not sure that this is the best way for me all the time as it builds up anxiety in me and then I start to get thought 'churn.'
    Thanks again for sharing your success, it has given me a much appreciated boost
  4. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    Solange, if you feel like a particular strategy isn't right for you, or is causing increased anxiety or tension, then don't do it. Different people are different. We find different strategies useful. Some people "yell" at their subconscious to stop giving them TMS; I never found this helpful. Fred Amir's idea of goals is very helpful to some people; giving myself goals for specific dates only caused me to put more pressure on myself, which was not what I needed.

    This is so, so true, or at least has been for me. "Forcing" yourself to do something will only lead to more stress/tension.

    Not monitoring your pain is a very hard place to get to. I've only recently started noticing that I am not monitoring my pain all the time anymore.

    I think something you can do, while you wait to get there, is do some small thing every day in order to incrementally work your way up to doing something you really want to do. I'm not sure what aspect of tying your shoelaces is difficult, but maybe you could just practice bending down every day for a week before moving on to touching the laces. Then maybe the next week every day practice bending down and touching the laces. Go very slowly and see how you feel each day--maybe avoid setting goals for now. Think of yourself as practicing doing this particular task. Subconsciously, you will be sending a message to yourself that you can do these things, even with a little pain.
  5. Solange

    Solange Well known member

    gailnyc, thanks for your comment too. I was beginning to feel a bit of a failure and stressed by this lack of progress and the thought of it was starting to take over my day. I guess I'll back off a bit here and wait until I feel more confident rather than stressing myself out. I definitely put too much pressure on myself and can easily get sucked into being a control freak who must overcome symptoms sooner rather than later.
    I feel more hopeful now that if I just continue to concentrate on what's going on inside my head, the shoelaces and the rest will eventually follow in their own time, like they did for BruceMC.
  6. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    I think most of us here would say we are the same way. You could look at this pain as a message--your brain telling your body to slow down, relax, don't put so much pressure on yourself. The pain can teach you this if you let it.
  7. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Follow this advice and you will heal. Steve Ozanich recently posted a similar idea about this. By telling yourself you need to get better physically, you reinforce the idea that you have a physical problem. The most important thing to realize, though, is that this simply is not the case. TMS symptoms are benign, and recovering begins when you understand that there is nothing you need to recover from.

    Sometimes giving yourself goals is helpful, but as Gail mentioned, it really depends on the person. I tend to see setting goals to be putting pressure on yourself. Pressure and recovering from TMS do not go well with each other. The more pressure you have, the more tension gets generated, and the more anxiety you develop. All of these things will fuel your symptoms. The reason following Bruce's quote/approach is that when you no longer are trying to become symptom free, there is no more pressure.

    If you haven't yet, check out some of Chickenbone's posts, particularly this one: http://tmswiki.org/forum/threads/the-importance-of-addressing-childhood-issues.451/page-2#post-10445 . I find that she has a really good grasp of how to reduce the stress and tension that come along with TMS.

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