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Daniel L. conscious vs. unconscious rage

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Jul 2, 2015.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Hi, I am still fairly new to this programme and am doing lots of reading and note taking. My question is how do I know what is in my unconscious mind that is causing rage? I can easily identify things in my conscious rage but how do I know if they are also impacting on my unconscious and therefore causing the pain?
  2. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    Interesting. I wish I had an easy, simple answer for you, but unfortunately there just isn’t an easy way to know what’s going on in your unconscious.

    More importantly, I think we should find out exactly why you’re digging deep for the rage: Is it solely to reduce pain or because you’re curious what’s down in there?

    If it’s to reduce pain, then I wouldn’t worry about it. Unconscious rage as the cause of TMS pain, as popularized by Sarno, is not exactly how we think about TMS pain anymore. There’s an element to it, yes, but that’s not everything. I find that changing your relationship to the pain is much more vital to getting rid of pain than getting in touch with unconscious emotions.

    Many people with TMS tend to repress their anger out of people-pleasing and perfectionism habits. Which is why many TMS people that read Sarno latch onto his words. From a therapeutic perspective, however, getting in touch with those feelings won’t make your pain go away if there is still part of you that is scared of your pain.

    If you’re asking solely because you’re curious, then I’d encourage you to speak with a therapist. They can be your guide in figuring out what’s down there in your subconscious.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

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  3. IndiMarshall

    IndiMarshall Well known member

    Hi Daniel....I like this.

    "From a therapeutic perspective, however, getting in touch with those feelings won’t make your pain go away if there is still part of you that is scared of your pain "

    but its very hard to ignore the pain if it is 7 on a scale of 10 isnt it ? Its hard not fear.. this is where most TMS patients like me are caught up in a circle. What is the way out for this ?
    Bearfeet and Fernando like this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is not an easy discussion to suggest a solution. I do think that the more we want to be pain free, the longer the pain stays with us.
    It may be best to accept the pain as having been caused by TMS repressed emotions or our perfectionist-goodist personality,
    and then live each day without thinking about the pain. Practice deep breathing and try to enjoy life and if possible, laugh at life.
  5. honey badger

    honey badger Peer Supporter

    Bingo! This is exactly the post I was thinking of writing myself: finding the unconscious anger. I can totally identify things that anger me consciously, but it's the unconscious that I can't do much about, but wonder about. And Daniel, you're absolutely right about asking why and speculating that it's probably to get rid of the pain. That's exactly the quest I was on: find it, so I can address it and get rid of my TMS manifestations. I kept thinking that if only I could get in touch with that repressed angry emotion (that I'm sure is in here somewhere) then I can address it and the pain/affliction will go away.

    But in reading this thread, and a number of other threads since joining the forum, I am reminded of what I discovered when I first read Dr. Sarno's books: that our perfectionistic personality tends to guide us to finding something to work on, to check off our list, so we can reach a particular outcome. And that's precisely what gets us in trouble in the first place! Trying, and trying and getting frustrated when we don't get there, so then we try harder. For me it's kind of an addiction that I need to keep in check ... but not "try" to keep in check for then I'd make that into a new goal! ; ) So I'm heeding your words here Daniel, and I'm looking at changing my relationship with my pain, not trying to chase it away, or figure out what obscure childhood or repressed emotion lies beneath it, but rather allow it to be there and continue with my life. Easier said than done, but I'm a perfectionist so I'm certainly going to give that a try ... oops, not a try but a casual "hey, this is my life and pain happens to be there in the corner". We'll see how it goes!
    Durga, jazzrascal and Penny2007 like this.
  6. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    This strikes a cord with me too. Trying to reframe your relationship with the pain is key but very hard.

    I'm reading a book right now on mindfulness which is opening up my eyes. It's called, You Are Not Your Pain. The authors come to the same conclusion that focusing on the pain is what fuels it but the approach is slightly different then what I've seen before. Chapter 5 is especially hitting home with me. It's called Your Are Not Your Thoughts

    They explain that there are 2 states of mind - the Doing mode and the Being mode. The Doing mode is what allows us to solve problems and is, "fantastically powerful process that helps you solve countless different types of problems." However, using the Doing mode for chronic pain is the worst thing you can do. This is because the Doing mode makes you focus on the gap between where you are (in pain) and where you want to be (without pain) and therefore it highlights that gap and preoccupies you with your inability to get there.

    The ideal is to be in the Being mode which is what mindfullness helps you achieve. In this state you try to be in the present. This doesn't mean to try to have a blank mind. The goal is to be able to recognize when your mind wanders and what your thoughts are and then to gently guide them back to the present. Thoughts are afterall usually about the past or the future and they often create emotions like fear which fuels the pain.

    You don't need to struggle with your thoughts or banish them. When you bring them out into the open and shine a light on them you can see that they are thoughts and not facts and they loose their power and hopefully this takes the attention off your pain and it starts to go away.

    Easier said then done and requires practice because the habit of a wandering mind is so engrained that you don't even realize you are doing it. Also, I think TMSers find it hard to be in the present because it may not feel safe to them due to childhood and other emotional wounds.
    honey badger, Durga and Ellen like this.
  7. honey badger

    honey badger Peer Supporter

    Thank you so much for your post Pain 2007. You seem to have really understood the difference between Being mode and Doing mode, and the entire concept of Mindfulness. Thank you so much for this great and thorough explanation. I too have dabbled in Mindfulness and I'm a big fan of Jon Kabat Zinn. He's one of the authors on a fantastic book I read, The Mindful Way Through Depression. At the time I was looking for something on anxiety, but found this book and it was so well laid out and spoke to me so directly, that I bought it and simply replaced depression with anxiety while I was reading it, and it was really amazing.

    Another book that works really well in regards to explaining precisely what you are mentioning about being rather than doing, is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I have read it several times and dabble in it, opening it randomly, when I need touch ups.

    What I love about all these which you so well put in your post, is that you don't need to struggle or fight or try to banish thoughts or change thoughts. You just need to accept them, or the pain, and go on. It's easier said than done, as you say yourself, but it goes hand-in-hand with the acceptance that we've probably not giving to ourselves as perfectionists and goodists.

    Right now, I'm in a place of not trying. Not trying to change things, not trying to strive. Just being with what is present and continuing to live my life. I am consciously trying (but not too hard!) to be aware of giving to myself, figuring what I want (which is hard for me), and then claiming it. Even accepting that it's hard for me to know what I want and not try to change that is a way of accepting. It's only when I start striving that I start generating tension and my body responds with pain. Thank you again for your response.
    Penny2007 likes this.
  8. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    @honey badger - the mindfulness stuff is helping me but as you say, I'm trying not to try to hard :) It's a balance to work on all of this without pressuring yourself too much.
    honey badger likes this.
  9. honey badger

    honey badger Peer Supporter

    I hear ya. Hope it goes well and that you keep making progress by taking care of yourself, in whatever way suits you best each time.
    Penny2007 likes this.
  10. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    BTW, understanding the concept of the Being mode and the Doing mode is a good first step but since I wrote the long explanation above (which I had just learned) I've been trying to break out of the Doing mode, but nonetheless I keep experiencing periods of anxiety and pain. I think the Doing mode is a habit and habits are hard to recognize and break. Awareness is the key but even that is not simple. It's hard to become aware of your thoughts. I guess it requires lots of patience and practice.
  11. honey badger

    honey badger Peer Supporter

    Yes, but don't fall into the trap of trying to do it. Just noticing or being with yourself is enough. Even if you're not getting anywhere, being aware that you're not getting anywhere (or at least of the feeing of frustration that you're not where you want to be), that's the backdoor to acceptance and it's good too. At least that's what I've read in the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. That always makes me feel better.

    At the very least, I'm noticing that I'm in the doing mode, for example, or I'm frustrated with myself that I'm not in the being mode. And just noticing that puts me in the here and now, and that's all we really need. My issue is also similar in that I forget to be present ... but since my focus currently is self-care at all costs, if I find that I'm not in the Being mode, I try not to get upset or frustrated at myself. My goal is to be kind to myself, to give to myself and that helps me not get angry or try too hard, because I know that's what gets me into trouble with pain and anxiety.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2017
    Penny2007 likes this.
  12. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    Good advice! It's a constant battle not to put too much pressure on myself. When you notice your thoughts you realize how much you do it. I pressure myself a lot, am a perfectionist and a goodist and this for sure causes my pain and anxiety.

    How are you focusing on self-care?
  13. honey badger

    honey badger Peer Supporter

    It's not easy. I keep reminding myself of the following Byron Katie quote: "I stopped waiting for the world to give me what I wanted; I started giving it to myself." This spoke volumes to me when I first heard it. I realized I was hoping and wishing that others would help me with things in life if I was nice to them, but I've come to realize that if I want to be treated well and have a good life, I have to start by giving that to myself.

    I have a tendency to do things for others and not myself, so I keep reminding myself that if I don't do it, I can't expect the universe to give it to me either. So I've been trying to give it to myself. For example, I'm a teacher and at my current school we have a pretty good long break between classes. But instead of going to the bathroom, I tend to pile extra things I can get done around the classroom, or do something for colleagues, and on a few occasions, I've run out of time and haven't gone to the bathroom! Or if I'm serving dinner, I often give my spouse the better or bigger piece of meat, which is a nice thing to do, but it sends me the wrong message like I'm not worth the nicer piece. So now I switch it up and sometimes I give it to myself, and sometimes not. Or going to the store looking for some paints (I've recently taken up painting as a hobbie - another self-care project), and I'll see something I need, but it's a bit expensive so I have a hard time buying it (which I'm working on), even though we can afford it. Or if I have the choice to sleep in on the weekend, or get up and get some things done, I often would choose to get up, but now choosing to sleep in because I can give this to myself, so why not do it?

    It's strange how good it feels being the author of all those positive ways of treating myself. I thought I'd feel guilty but I don't. I feel like giggling when I allow myself to have the better dinner serving, or to sleep in. It's very liberating and I know that accumulating these types of actions is what will help me shift the way I treat myself overall. And that's a big incentive for me.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
  14. Mormor

    Mormor Newcomer

    I have found a wonderful "trick' if you want to call it that. I mentally go inside myself, right to the pain and I say " Oh hello how are you today. I'm sorry but I'm not allowed to talk to you anymore ." Then I immediately think of something wonderful like my this coffee is great (I'm drinking it and enjoying it again) or look how beautiful that tree is. Works every time. Life is beautiful again.
  15. honey badger

    honey badger Peer Supporter

    Wow. It sounds so simple. I really like it, especially the gentleness of saying "not allowed to talk to you" rather than getting angry at ourselves, which is a tough one for those of us who are too hard on ourselves to begin with.

    I've been reading Steve's book, the Great Pain Deception, and you're reminding me of something I just read recently when he suggests a similar technique. Basically, replacing what you think is painful on one foot, for example, and focus on the other foot (or whatever else) which is feeling just fine. So I decided to try it with my face, which is rough to the touch in parts due to rosacea. So when I think of how my face feels because I might be focusing on it emotionally, I now touch the back of my hand any time I think of my face. My hand is very soft, and I touch it with my finger tips back and forth as if I were touching my face until I stop thinking about it. It has had a strangely wonderful impact on my face. It's actually been feeling softer ... how odd is that?! I even went ahead and drank red wine all week because it's a big no-no for rosaceans, and it didn't seem to affect it! It didn't make it seem rougher, which is often the case. If nothing else, this definitely proves to me that rosacea is psychosomatic!
    Mormor likes this.

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