1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this link: http://go.tmswiki.org/newprogram
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New Program Day 14: Fostering Empowerment

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Alan Gordon LCSW, Jul 25, 2017.

  1. LynnH

    LynnH New Member

    I completely understand where you are coming from! This may not seem like good news but I have been working on Sarno's methods for 2 years and while I was always wishing I would have instantaneous results like some have had I'm actually glad that I didn't. I have learned so much about myself and the way I tick. This particular program we are in right now has been so helpful to understand how big a role fear plays in me. I remember being 8 months in and still consumed with the pain when I decided to take a break from all the TMS information out there and just start to live again. I eventually began having mental breaks from the pain, by that I mean the pain moved to the back of my mind even though it was still there. After awhile I was ready to take another step and would usually go to the TMS website for some pointers. I have quit expecting the pain to go away quickly and have immersed myself, as much as possible, in things I love to do like walking and gardening. I eventually got to a place where I didn't second guess doing something in the evenings or sitting for long periods even if I pay a little for it later because I know I will come out of it. Just this weekend I attended a few seminars and sat way too long and even though I wasn't afraid of it I still find myself paying a bit for it BUT it doesn't put me in bed anymore and that is a huge win! When I tell people about what I am doing I tell them I became a pit bull with this TMS information because I know it is the answer to 30+ years of pain. So if it takes awhile to come out of it so be it and in the meantime I am gaining a wealth of knowledge about my brain and my personality. I tell people I went from living 30% of a normal persons life to 75% and that is a HUGE improvement! I say all of this to encourage you. I surely hope it doesn't take you 2 years but hang in there because I know you will find improvement.
  2. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    Thank you all for your comments, there were two confusing points about my original post. 1.) I used an analogy of someone pushing though structural pain as an example of empowerment, and 2.) I didn't make enough of a distinction between empowerment and pressure.

    I went back and changed the first three sections, hopefully, this makes the post clearer.

    Thank you for your comment, Kerr. This feedback helped me realize that my original post needed to be edited.

    Resistance alone is not empowerment. Let me give you an example. Let's say there's a teenager who is rebelling against his mother. When his mom tells him to take a coat because it's cold outside, he rebels by doing the opposite. In truth, not taking a coat isn't that different from taking a coat. His actions are still dictated by someone else. True empowerment would be deciding to take a coat based on whether he wanted to, independent of what his mom suggested.

    Forcing yourself to do things feels more like pressure than empowerment. It has the sense of trying to escape from a bad feeling instead of gravitating toward a good one. Empowerment comes from a place of enthusiasm and liberation, it's free of pressure.

    If you reread the original post, hopefully this distinction is clearer now.

    To your original point, you may not feel fear in the most obvious sense, but resistance by its very nature is driven by fear. When someone is truly free of fear, there is no drive to escape their current state. This gets to the heart of outcome independence.
    Right, when you push through the pain, it often comes from a place of pressure. Pressure can send us deeper into a state of fight or flight and activate our danger signals even more.
    I know Lew, it is hard. Empowerment is not something that we either have or don't have, it's a learnable skill. Tomorrow, I'll be talking about how to work toward developing this skill.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
  3. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    I love the sore heel story. We do have these conversations. Is it real? Or TMS?
    I had a real incident a few years ago - the resulting spasm and pain was remarkable. I knew it was mindbody related but the trauma underlying the was phenomenal. I returned to therapy, did EMDR and cried and grieved.
    It was pelvic floor and gluteal spasm. The shame was catapulting me downward.
    I got on my horse at rode anyway. Every week. When I felt ready I rode a steep hill at a gallop allowing the saddle to thump my backside HARD while I told the pain it had no grip on me. That it was time to let go.
    It did.
    It returned a few times. There was trauma in this case to be revisited with kindness and compassion. The work we are doing in this three week course reinforces this.
    ...I might add that another dialectical approach to fear is integrating it with faith ...in this process that Sarno discovered. Empowerment was never a term that inspired me. I supposed faith does empower one - is this just me parsing words? Powerlessness was a more accessible Eastern concept that allowed the ego to let go its defenses.
    I don't have to be an Olympic gymnast or Michael Jordan's version of empowerment, I can rely on my faith in this elegant process that has worked for so many people.
  4. Christie Uipi MSW

    Christie Uipi MSW TMS Therapist

    I love this point!

    Sometimes people ask, "But which one should I do - safety, or empowerment? When the pain comes on, should I soothe myself, or should I fire myself up?" Safety and empowerment both effectively neutralize fear. Sometimes one resonates with one person more than the next, or in one situation more than another. My advice is to try them both on and see what feels good for you.

    When I was in middle school, one of my teachers really had it out for me. He was constantly picking on me in front of everyone else, to the point where I would almost have a full blown panic attack walking into his class. When I couldn't take it anymore, I came home and told my parents about it. My mom immediately gave me a hug, reassured me that everything was going to be okay, and told me that I hadn't done anything wrong. My dad, on the other hand, jumped in the car, drove down to my school, found that teacher, and told him (quite enthusiastically!) to never so much as look at his daughter the wrong way again. Safety versus empowerment. They both made me feel better (and less afraid) in their own way :)
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  5. Kerrj74

    Kerrj74 Well known member

    Thank you Lynn. I appreciate it.
  6. bman

    bman Peer Supporter

    Today was one of the days that I powered thru. I decided that the SEP was not the right approach for me and to go back to what I learned from many years of dealing with TMS. I tell myself that the pain is just my unconscious mind reacting the way it always has for 66 years. I've had "pinched nerves" in my back and neck with resultant tingling all over my legs, sciatica, numbness in my feet, burning pain (neuropathy) in both feet, and off and on back pain for the past 6 months. Although I've been knowledgeable about TMS for the last 8 years I still questioned my symptoms. However, when I "power through" and walk, go to the store, do chores - I am able to eliminate much of the pain except my feet. I agree with Alan though - empowerment is one of the tools that works for me - its just that you have to accept the pain and that gets to you. I find that unfortunately for many of us knowledge is not enough. We need to retrain the neural pathways and that doesn't seem to be easy. Nevertheless, the only path is to "keep on trucking!"

    BTW - my walk was empowering today - not pressure. I agree with Alan - pressure is part of my problem. Empowerment is a good solution when you are mentally able to do it.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
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  7. Kerrj74

    Kerrj74 Well known member

    Thanks for clarifying Alan!
  8. Saffron

    Saffron Peer Supporter

    I wake with 10/10 head pain every day. It s nds me into despair. I've managed other pains. This. I can't even think.
  9. kkcarlton

    kkcarlton Peer Supporter

    Hi Ellen,

    Could you explain in more detail how you used this for insomnia?

    Thank you
    hambone likes this.
  10. hambone

    hambone Peer Supporter

    If I were in your shoes I would do whatever is necessary to go see Dr. Schubiner in Michigan or Paul G. in New Jersey. See the list of TMS practitioners for details on them.
    MicheleRenee likes this.
  11. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    for me, I don't usually wake up empowered. i wake up curious and willing to begin my day by structuring my cognitions: 1) grateful to be alive, etc. 2) look at the sky, be grateful for the morning 3) focus on what I see, eg. my husband, my dogs, my home, visual appreciation. If I wake up "in my head" I immediately as the higher self within me to GUIDE MY THOUGHTS and actions because if my ego gets out of bed first, I will tell a story of how screwed I am, when I am not.

    Do you go to bed a night expecting the pain the next morning? Do you speak to the pain when it appears? Are you oversleeping? Undersleeping? Eating lousy before bed? There are extenuating factors that cause real headaches, including hormones, chocolate, all sorts of conditions we create.

    I hang upside down a few times a day! Feels great. Either off the side of the bed or from a yoga trapeze. Fun. Far fewer headaches when we are playing with our bodies instead of fearing them.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
    nele likes this.
  12. gutter3

    gutter3 Peer Supporter

    From my experience I think the more you focus on the pain, the more attention you give it the more it stays with you. Having no fear and empowerment helps you along the way. But if you're still focusing on the pain and thinking about it 24/7 then it's never going away. I have chronic muscles spasms that sometimes get so bad I can't stand to wear a shirt or for someone to touch me. Those are usually the days I focus on the pain, I don't necessarily have fear regarding the pain but I focus on it which makes it's worse and intensify. Have you tried distractions? I have less pain at work bc I distract myself with work and the like so I don't focus on the pain all day. Even when you don't have pain you're thinking about the pain which is giving it power over you. So you're just stuck in a constant cycle of pain. I don't know if this is helpful but it's something I have noticed on my journey.
  13. Kerrj74

    Kerrj74 Well known member

    Thanks gutter3. Yeah that's exactly my problem. I do try to distract myself with work and other things, but the pain just always cuts through to the forefront of my attention. That's the part I can't get past and don't know what to do about it.
    gutter3 likes this.
  14. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    These strategies are not a permanent fix initially. You have to employ them over and over with persistence and patience until you have "unlearned" your pain, and built new neuropathways. I view my mind like a puppy I'm trying to train. You have to repeat the training over and over until it sticks. (Though the puppy probably learns faster than my brain since it has less to unlearn.) You are building new habits and it takes time and repetition. Hang in there. It will eventually work if you keep at it.
    Amatxu, MentorCoach, Kerrj74 and 2 others like this.
  15. Kerrj74

    Kerrj74 Well known member

    Thanks Ellen. Since I was familiar with TMS and already believed in it, I implemented these strategies from the moment the pain started 8 months ago, and I haven't stopped. Yet the pain pathways strengthened and took over, despite my constant efforts to unlearn the pain since its onset. I don't know why. It seems like that should have nipped it in the bud, but yet it progressed until now instead. I don't get it. So frustrating.
  16. editrix

    editrix New Member

    This is what I'm struggling with, too. However, my leg pain comes with standing and walking. I can sit or lie down for a long time. I'm in agony when I have to do errands, like walking around the grocery store, even while leaning on the shopping cart. I can't imagine voluntarily walking; it would feel like forcing... like being angry at the pain. It's such a conundrum. I feel sorry for myself. I want sympathy. I hate it when friends think they're helping: "You're getting older [I'm 70], the body breaks down." "Why not go to the doctor. Aren't you CURIOUS?" I'm angry just writing this. I am still furious about the election. I'm having lots of computer problems. I forgot my cane in a shopping cart the other day. To go back to the store to see if someone turned it in, I need my cane! I have a bad attitude. I'm going off on a tangent (or three) here. I started this reply to commiserate with you, really! What you express--the frustration--is truly the crux of the problem. I feel that I understand TMS, but I avoid the pain as much as possible. I can't deal with it, it hurts! Yes, I'm stating the obvious. I'm not naturally a happy-go-lucky type. I'm afraid to read this over, for fear that I sound like a lunatic. I claim to be without fear, but I just mentioned fear twice, supposedly casually! I'm not *really* afraid of rereading what I've written, nor of appearing crazy. I know I'm among like-minded people here. OK, I think I'll stop. Sorry I don't have more encouragement to offer! Oh, and how could I forget: one of my closest friends is dying of cancer. I can see that the pain is distracting me from this plethora of other feelings... except I'm feeling the anger and grief PLUS the pain. [grumble grumble]
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
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  17. editrix

    editrix New Member

    Alan, is there any way to use the anger ("all the rage") constructively?
  18. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I am in the process of writing a Success Story on my recovery from insomnia. So please stay-tuned. I hope to have it posted soon.
  19. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sorry that I misunderstood your original post. I encourage you to hang in there, and the missing piece may eventually be revealed to you. It took me a year to recover from chronic pain, but then 3 more years to recover from insomnia. It took me longer to find the missing piece for insomnia, but for me it was outcome independence. Once I was able to apply that concept, I started to recover. This is difficult stuff, but it will work once you figure out how to apply to your individual circumstances. Wishing you all the best......
    Laleah Shoo Shoo and Bodhigirl like this.
  20. Kerrj74

    Kerrj74 Well known member

    Thank you Ellen!

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