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New Program Day 15: Mastery Experience

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Alan Gordon LCSW, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    Day 15: Mastery Experience

    Think back to the first time you rode a bike without training wheels. The bike wobbles, and you fall. Tentatively, you try again, and you fall again. Over and over you fall, as your confidence starts to wane.

    Then, suddenly, it clicks. You’ve learned how to balance your body, you've learned how to lean in to turns…it just makes sense. You feel fantastic. Within two weeks, you’re doing wheelies and riding with no hands.

    You may have heard the term, “Confidence leads to success,” but often, it’s success that leads to confidence. Empowerment isn’t something we either have or don’t have, it’s something that we can build.

    The Building Blocks of Empowerment

    By giving ourselves the experience of successfully achieving tasks, we're able to develop a sense of empowerment. Cognitive psychologist Albert Bandura called this, "mastery experience."

    My favorite example of mastery experience comes from Dead Poet Society:

    Evolutionarily, we’ve been wired to use past experiences to try to predict future events. Essentially our brains think, “What you’ve gotten is what you’ll get.”

    When we repeatedly experience failure, we come to anticipate failure. This cycle naturally leads to a feeling of disempowerment. On the flip side, when we experience success, our brains come to expect success. We begin to believe that we’re capable, competent, and strong.

    Generating Momentum

    In the 2004 American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox were down 3 games to 0 against the New York Yankees.

    In the fourth game, the Red Sox found themselves down by a run in the ninth inning, facing the best pitcher in baseball. Not even the most optimistic Red Sox fan thought they had a chance to win the series.

    But then Dave Roberts stole second base. Given the magnitude of their deficit, it was relatively insignificant. But they tasted success, and started to believe, “We got one, maybe we can get another.”

    Then Bill Mueller singled up the middle and the game was tied! With two successes in a row, the crowd was growing confident. In the 12th inning, Dave Ortiz hit a homerun and there was dancing in the streets.

    The Red Sox went on to win the World Series, and were the first baseball team ever to come back from a 3-0 deficit.

    But it all started with that first stolen base.

    Experiencing Success

    I’m generally pretty responsible. I always call people back, I don’t cancel appointments, but there’s one area where I’m lacking – I’m terrible at checking my mail. And the more mail there is, the less I want to deal with it.

    But every now and then, I’ll sit down and power through the whole pile. And when I do, it’s like I climbed Mount Everest and ran a triathlon all at once. The mail itself isn’t very important, but that feeling of accomplishment inspires me to tackle much bigger, more challenging tasks.

    To develop a sense of empowerment, we need to experience the feeling of success. But our brains are not discerning. We can get a sense of accomplishment from almost anything.

    Generating small wins throughout the day can release dopamine in your brain, and help you develop the neural pathways associated with empowerment.

    It doesn’t matter how small the win is. Whether it’s catching your fear thoughts, doing a load of laundry that you’ve been putting off, or running on the treadmill for ten minutes, allow yourself to celebrate the accomplishment.

    What you’re truly celebrating is that you’re changing your habits, and building a sense of empowerment.

    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  2. Eugene

    Eugene Well known member

    This sounds like me Alan.

    I used to run a successful business where I had a lot of success. Whatever I did, I expected to succeed at.

    Alas, when all this pain stuff first kicked off five years ago I was knocked for six. Instead of a success mentality I developed a failure and fear mentality. Nothing in my life seemed to go right. I've been on that downward spiral for five years and I desperately want to get off.

    So yes, I need to change these habits and develop building blocks for empowerment. It's just sooooooo hard to keep it up when you are in discomfort so much.
  3. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    This struck a chord with me. I work from home and often can't motivate myself to work but I always feel better if I get up and clean the house as then I feel like I've accomplished something useful, and my TMS symptoms usually diminish.
    kim marie and plum like this.
  4. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    In addition, for those who have struggled with TMS and continue to have pain, you can feel defeated and a failure. I think relishing other accomplishments helps to counter this. It also helps counter that nasty voice in your head that says means things to you all the time and makes you feel worthless. It is indeed empowering to relish your accomplishments.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
    kim marie, MentorCoach, nele and 3 others like this.
  5. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    A similar thing is true for me. Housework is an underrated form of active meditation but also there is something very powerful and comforting in making your home cosy and clean. I'll never live in a magazine perfect house, nor do I want to, however I have come to realise that small gestures carry huge benefits that I now realise create a sense of safety for me.

    I've endured repossession and extremely traumatic house moves as a consequence and unsurprisingly these experiences annihilated any sense of safety. It's taken me years and years to even approach feeling ok at home. These days I am slowly edging towards making home a sanctuary. Thus housework can be a chore but at a deeper level it is somewhat redemptive and healing. There is accomplishment in that.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2017
    tb_player, suky, Durga and 10 others like this.
  6. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    @plum - well said. I've also had to move a lot which I guess also diminished my sense of safety so I understand your sentiments well.
    Lunarlass66 likes this.
  7. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I am 87, a self-employed writer working from home for more than 40 years. I love it. I don't work at the mercy of other people's incompetence. I'm not rich by any means, and have to deal with economic insecurity, but no one can lay me off or fire me. I love writing and feel it is a calling. Life isn't perfect, but I'm happy. My dogs helped almost more than anything.
  8. LDB3

    LDB3 New Member

    I look forward to doing housework actually. Healing from a tibial bone bruise. TMS for me might be from the absolutely horrible medical advice I've received on 3 occasions since 2010 on a hamstring pull, a skin issue, and now this doctor not ordering an MRI until I saw him 3 times within several weeks concerning what he thought was "bursitis" and I walked on this hidden injury an additional 2 months before getting a diagnosis with it being covered up with cortisone. And I told him about it, too, without reservation and my thoughts on it which was quite freeing. No more of this "Mr. nice Guy" stuff when it comes to such incompetence.

    The hamstring and skin thing were fixed with wisdom from God that I asked for looking on the internet for months for something to help when regular MDs totally failed me wasting my time and money.

    I am of the mindset this will be the same with a good outcome, but finding Sarno's books before I knew what was going on with this last for instance has been helpful to release the rage of this utterly ridiculous several years of quackery and lab rat sh**. I have self analyzed perfectionistic tendencies, also. Finding this forum through Sarno's connections has been an answer to prayer for me.
    kim marie likes this.
  9. LDB3

    LDB3 New Member

    I also am self employed as a musician. It is freeing to not have your life run by "the man" which to me is "an attitude". I have worked employed in various situations, but self-employment can be a very freeing thing. I am just ticked off at this last doc for incompetence and lost time and money once again. However, I will never be victimized by these arrogant people in white coats again. I have some good docs I see, but these others have been "fired". That's how it works, they work FOR you, not the other way around.
    I look forward to total manifestation of healing and throwing the walker in a country field after it's smashed up with a sledgehammer.
    I would never be able to teach a music student fundamentals if I were incompetent and I would be held accountable, but a lawsuit really is not an option. I don't have the money to throw at these people and the system is set up for them to win hiding behind their societies.So I see my good docs once a year for maintenance check-ups. I have chosen them all personally after checking them out concerning their benevolent care as opposed to these others that need to analyze their motives for going into medicine in the first place.
    Oscar B. likes this.
  10. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    OMG... This is exactly what happened to me.. Hamstring strain, tendinopathy misdiagnosed as hip bursitis.. No MRI for five months til I badgered and threatened them... Got a cortisone shot ( for supposed"bursitis" which MRI proved I didn't have) which I had a BAD reaction to and of course developed a huge mistrust and all around hatred from western medicine mds... I wound up with panic attacks, agoraphobia, needing counseling, a slew of tests to rule out disease and other pathologies... And now stuck in chronic pain!
    I was FINE just a couple of years ago....
    kim marie likes this.
  11. Eugene

    Eugene Well known member

    Well said @plum

    We're in the process of selling our house and buying another. This necessitated a massive clean up. Our house hasn’t looked so tidy and welcoming in 17 years, and boy does it feel great. I think it has had a positive impact on how I feel, and you're right about it being active meditation. For two days I was so focused on making it look its best that I didn’t have time to dwell on discomfort.
    plum and Lily Rose like this.
  12. Eugene

    Eugene Well known member

    87 and so active, eloquent, and positive. You are a true inspiration. I'm 54 Walt and I keep thinking I'm already old. Heck, if I get to 87 that means I have another 33 years to go, which by my reckoning is over 60% of what I've already had, again. I hope that when I am 87 I'll be able to say I am a self-employed writer working from home and - most important of all - I hope I can say "I Love it" like you have.
  13. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    That's exactly right. When I clean I'm very present as I'm concentrating on the task at hand. This almost always makes my pain go away.
    Eugene likes this.
  14. LDB3

    LDB3 New Member

    Prayers. I believe in the power of power. A rolf therapist brought me OUT of hamstring issues. I took "the 10", but felt RELIEF after the 2nd session. I was able to WALK down the stairs without holding onto the walls just after 2 sessions....
    I highly recommend it. I had fascial issues. I would have paid the rolf therapist DOUBLE the money. I wasted close to $2K on WORTHLESS sport med concerning that thing that bothered me from 2011-2014 from repetitive lifting on a job.
    Nothing helped except for the Rolfing series to loosen up that hamstring.
  15. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    I've always encouraged my daughter to "celebrate the little things." Once at college, when a friend of hers had some good news, but didn't have anyone else to share it with, my daughter called me so I could celebrate with them by phonedancea
  16. Jeronymite

    Jeronymite Newcomer

    In his poem The Elixir, George Herbert makes profound observations as to nature of the mundane in relation to the Divine.

    Whether one is Christian or not, one can take from his work the truth that we can transform even that which is drudgery into something that is purposeful and re-purposing. It is so with pain too (physical and psychological).

    As plum so rightly says, "Housework is an underrated form of active meditation". With TMS, we need to learn to let our gaze pass through the glass, not rest on it.

    Let Herbert say it his way:

    Teach me, my God and King,
    In all things you to see,
    And what I do in any thing,
    To do it as for thee:

    Not rudely, as a beast,
    To run into an action;
    But still to make you prepossess'd,
    And give it his perfection.

    A man that looks on glass,
    On it may stay his eye;
    Or if he pleases, through it pass,
    And then the heaven espy.

    All may of you partake:
    Nothing can be so mean,
    Which with his tincture (for your sake)
    Will not grow bright and clean.

    A servant with this clause
    Makes drudgery divine:
    Who sweeps a room, as for your laws,
    Makes that and th’ action fine.

    This is the famous stone
    That changes all to gold:
    For that which God does touch and own
    Cannot for less be told.
    chemgirl likes this.
  17. maggiehl

    maggiehl New Member

    This helps me. I have struggled and continue to have pain and now nausea and I do often feel defeated. However, I go out and walk briskly everyday, do other worthwhile things that I can count as accomplishments if I'm looking at them this way. Thanks.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2017
    Gigi and Penny2007 like this.
  18. Kat

    Kat Peer Supporter

    Yes, it's very easy (esp for us perfectionist types) to feel a failure for not being able to conquer the pain. And it's hard, in a family like mine, that always expected so much 'success' to understand why I can't just 'fix' this problem, as they no doubt would (or think they would). It's hard, not living up to other people's expectations and one's own. So I like this idea of finding small successes to celebrate, such as catching a fear thought. I think I can accomplish that!
    On another note, a friend just sent me this link to a podcast by Stephen Levine that is really thought-provoking - he discusses his idea of healing, which isn't what most people would think, ie not so much about the body, but more internal. Good stuff.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 8, 2017
    Ookami and Penny2007 like this.
  19. kkcarlton

    kkcarlton Peer Supporter

    Alan, thank you for this new program and all you do. You mentioned somewhere that have overcome 22 symptoms. Would you mind sharing what those were? Or do you have your testimony posted somewhere?

    Thank you,
    Lunarlass66 likes this.
  20. Emre

    Emre Peer Supporter

    Hi Alan,
    this is a very important statement you made here. so do you mean, dopamine release helps developing new neural pathways? and it doesnt matter that much from which win you release that dopamine? so in your example, finishing all your emails at once causes you to release dopamine, which in turn helps you build new no fear pathways, which increases your self confidence, which helps you to live a pain (symptom)free life?? what a quesiton that was, sorry:)
    westb and Penny2007 like this.

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