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 15: Mastery Experience

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

  1. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    I tend to procrastinate the things that I'm either not sure how to do properly/easily or that I know will take a lot of effort to do perfectly, the way I want. How do I power through those tasks to reap the rewards you mention without putting too much pressure on myself?
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017
    Emre likes this.
  2. Mermaid

    Mermaid Well known member

    Right on Walt! I run a factory and a lot of my TMS rage comes from being at the mercy of our people's incomptence. Security for me is knowing where the next hug is coming from :joyful:

    I love you Walt !
    Eugene likes this.
  3. hodini

    hodini Peer Supporter

    Hi Alan,

    I have been following (reading) your program. While many of your suggestions sound reasonable and helpful to some, I am still perturbed by the use of jargon in your explanations. I for one am still waiting for an explanation to exactly what "authentic indifference" is and who would be the arbiter of that.

    It seems like you are presenting some ideas in a very simplistic and childlike way. I was wondering if that was deliberate or just a style. When doing so, you leave out "facts of life" which are there are outliers in all seemingly simplistic events. The cause and effect you are laying out does not accurately represent reality in my opinion.

    One other question gone unanswered is if persons with TMS virtually all have "perfectionist and people pleasing personalities", then how do the suggested methods for dealing with TMS not enable that sort of personality to thrive ?

    Using a term "Mastery Experience" is a prime example of using words which promote the perfectionist ideal. Why choose words like this when so many others are available. While mastery means a comprehensive knowledge of something, your usage is more to the other meaning (or so it seems to me, correct me if I am wrong) which implies control and ascendency.

    "Evolutionarily, we’ve been wired to log past experiences in order to anticipate future events. Essentially our brains have learned, “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 anticipate success. We begin to believe that we’re capable, competent, and strong."

    In his book "The Black Swan: The impact of the highly improbable" Nassim Taleb explains what has become fairly well know in some circles as "the Black Swan theory". While the math in the book is quite challenging (at least I found it so), the psychological an sociological aspects are quite revealing. The theory is about how it is human nature to view unexpected events in hindsight in simplistic ways and why.

    The following abridged story of a prime example of how " What you've gotten is what you get" statement can be completely and devastatingly wrong in certain instances.

    The turkey from its birth is nurtured every day fed, housed, given medical care etc. every day it has more and more reason to believe that the next day will be the same as the last and this continues until it is about 2 years old. Then comes the day when it it decided that it is time for it to become part of the human diet. it does not expect that day, but it happens. That is a Black Swan event.

    Given that, a Black Swan event does not have to be negative like 911, or the turkeys last day and can also give hope to all who have seemingly had constant failure that a positive Black swan event can happen to them.

    Your statement above is very simplistic and unrealistic. It seems to create an outcome dependence not independence.

    Virtually all the successful people I know and have read about speak sort of kindly with respect to their failures as part of a process which was integral to their successes. If you know of some where this is not true please mention them. This is true in science as well. While failures can be frustrating they can also be liberating and while successes can be empowering a success which leads to failures in whatever aspect can be at times devastating.

    Since quite a bit of what you propose has to do with one changing their perceptions, mindsets, biology, lifestyle etc. I for one ascribe to informed consent anytime one is offering a treatment, or method designed to biologically change a persons make up. I simply feel that is part of the responsibility if one proposes such methods. I just do not see how delivering treatment plans and methods without fully informing possible outcomes is in the end justifiable.

    I would be interested to hear your take on that and I understand that while fully informing may cause someone to not fully accept a TMS diagnosis and the difficulty that might create, I was wondering if you sometimes struggled with this issue and how you deal with it.
  4. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi Hodini,
    Mastery experience is a term developed by cognitive psychologist, Albert Bandura. He discussed the concept of "self efficacy" which he defines as, "an individual's belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments." According to Bandura's research, mastery experience is the most important factor in the development of self efficacy.

    Although failures can absolutely be part of a larger success, individuals with high self efficacy tend to look at barriers as challenges to be overcome. So the very ability to be motivated by failures often requires a high level of self-efficacy to begin with.

    With regard to our brains' developing the capacity to log past events as way to anticipate future events, this is one of the tenets of behaviorism. I elaborate on evolutionary component of this in the conditioned response section.

    The turkey example you cited in your post was interesting, and a great of example of a black swan event. But confidence, at its heart, is the belief in one's ability to succeed. It's primarily a function of expectation. And while black swan events occur, they are by their very nature are unexpected.
    nele likes this.
  5. Ines

    Ines Well known member

    This is so true.
  6. Ollin

    Ollin Peer Supporter

    This is so true. When I'm by myself i can get pretty motivated by small successes from trials and errors and really feel good about myself. But then it gets all ruined after one comparison with someone else's achievement. I'm struggling a lot with self validation and confidence because of my TMS i feel inferior and weaker than most people. :(
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    For me, feeling inferior and weak came well before the TMS. But either way, it is important to gain a sense of mastery and remind ourselves of our accomplishments.
    schnurma and Ollin like this.
  8. aziemski

    aziemski New Member

    It seems like a bit of a vicious cycle: I put high expectations on myself, which sets me up for failure, and then when I fail to meet my high expecations, I feel disempowered, which is perpetuating my pain. This idea of celebrating successes makes sense but is frankly somewhat foreign to me. I saw a TMS therapist for a while last year, and it was identified that I don't seem to feel good about things that I probably should. Instead, I feel like it was just expected of me. For example, I graduated with Dean's Honors from my degree program in University. But I never really felt like that was an accomplishment....of course I was going to graduate....that was just a given. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't, and therefore, it didn't feel like a big deal to me. Besides, who cared about graduating, that was done, now I had to worry about finding a good job! (at least, that is the attitude that goes on in my head). How do you recommend someone like me goes about "celebrating" successes when this is not something that comes naturally to me?
    Oscar B., MentorCoach and Plumcrazy like this.
  9. Plumcrazy

    Plumcrazy Peer Supporter

    Aziemski (I can't seem to find the quote button) I think you touched on what happens for me. I am in my second year of early retirement, and I beat myself up for not following through with my self-set daily or weekly goals. The thing is, I am no longer on a schedule, nor do I have deadlines that my career offered, so I don't always HAVE to get my things done. I married into a very ambitious family, which can serve to defeat me before I even get started. So, yeah....set goals, sabatage goals, feel defeated, and THEN feel defeated when pain shows up to make accomplishing some of those goals painful.

    On the note of feeling so great when even the smallest of tasks gets completed, yes! Nothing quite like crossing off the to-do's on a list.
    Oscar B. likes this.
  10. Ookami

    Ookami New Member

    Thank you for the video, that was very interesting! :)
  11. L100

    L100 New Member

    This all sounds great, but the question is how to cope with like totally wasted day? To me those days anxiety strikes back so hard together with the pain and I cannot even concentrate to somatic tracking or cognitive soothing those days. I mean, I am aware of emotions but it feels like they are killing me.
    Oscar B. likes this.
  12. hodini

    hodini Peer Supporter

    Hi Alan,
    Thanks a lot for turning me on to Bandura. https://stanford.edu/dept/psychology/bandura/bandura-bio-pajares/Albert%20_Bandura%20_Biographical_Sketch.html (Albert Bandura Biographical Sketch)
    His is quite the extraordinary life and his achievements are immense.

    Actually ,I guess I had been familiar with his theory of "self -efficacy" but did not know it by name, nor of his coining the term "mastery experience". While he used that term, he apparently did not feel that the majority of persons he was speaking or dealing with had perfectionist personalities and I might suggest if he did he may have used a different term. I have used the technique in sports.

    Besides the Mastery experience being one of the important factors, he also discusses as equally important, the need for reasonable expectations, or the need to set reasonable outcomes as goals.

    Also, as with the term "Authentic indifference", in order to better understand its definition, when you say "High level of self efficacy" how is that measured?

    You can simply point me in the right direction if you know where it exists as you did with Bandura.

    Ideally what would be the medium point of self efficacy?

    Does that mean that persons with TMS also either had to begin with lower levels of self efficacy, or does TMS help develop that?
  13. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi Hodini,
    There is a general self-efficacy scale, which assesses a sense of perceived self-efficacy:
    http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~health/engscal.htm (The General Self)

    I'm not sure if people with TMS have lower levels of self-efficacy overall. That's a good question. If I had to guess, I'd assume that they do. People who are hypervigilant are more likely to develop TMS, and given that fear and empowerment are at opposite ends of the spectrum, it stands to reason that TMSers may start off with lower levels of self-efficacy than non-TMSers.

    But like everything, self-efficacy can be learned. So it's less a matter of how much we have, and more a matter of how much we work on developing it.
  14. hodini

    hodini Peer Supporter

    Hi Alan,
    Thank you for pointing me in that direction, I am of the sort where quantification plays a large role in my thought processes. I was pleased to see that it is a well accepted method of determining both quality and quantity of self efficacy. Also that is able to be applied universally in cross cultural studies.

    I would think it would be an excellent tool in aiding those who are suffering from PPD ( I am using that term since it seems to be the one preferred by your organization). Using it would add a fairly reliable method of tracking ones progress in that respect and then potentially be able to see the correlates to PPD. Thanks again.
  15. hudsonhiker

    hudsonhiker New Member

    This article for day 15 is so inspiring. It can be used for pain or just for motivating oneself. Thank you.
  16. James53

    James53 New Member

    I read a lot of what you write, Walt. And I appreciate your insight and input a great deal. My problem stems from seething rage that I believe causes my pain as my unconscious mind tries to save me from it all. My two black Labs are helping me as well. This is my first comment on this forum and I just want to say thank you.
    Kevin Barry likes this.
  17. Kevin Barry

    Kevin Barry Peer Supporter

    Hey Emre, I really identify with you. That was a great question! Thanks!
  18. LindenSwole

    LindenSwole Peer Supporter

    My TMS likely developed when I went from several years of sales success to a heavy struggle for several months. On top of this, I had been rehabbing a shoulder reconstruction. Prior to all of this I had the gym to lean on when I was struggling at work and could lean on work when I struggled in the gym. Suddenly, I am struggling at work and can't do what I want in the gym; my back and neck exploded. I discontinued ALL work at the gym and continued to struggle at work; this is when the doctor chasing started. I was disempowered several times per day as I was too preoccupied with researching illnesses and injuries to focus at work; spiral continued.

    I left the job I was at and started being able to find success in other areas of life, including the gym. Focusing on the gratitude and thinking less about the little flicker of non-success from a couple of years ago. It's all working wonders.
  19. SRcombs

    SRcombs Peer Supporter


    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.


    I love this and I've been working on something similar for a several weeks now. My TMS shows up as neck and shoulder pain. I used to lift weights, but stopped because it always seemed to aggravate my shoulders. Well, I got frustrated a few weeks ago when I couldn't even do one push up!! I hadn't realized how much strength I'd lost. So I decided to use these techniques to built it back up. I literally started with ONE wall push-up, while telling myself "This is a safe activity for me, I have a strong, healthy back, neck and shoulders" Well, no pain the next day!! So I've been increasing my wall push-ups one per week. I'm currently up to 4 and have had no bad reaction. Once I get to 10 wall push-ups, I'm going to then try to do 1 real push-up. When I get to that point I'm going to through myself a little party.

    I also, find housework kind of therapeutic. It's funny because I dread doing it, but once I get started I kind of like it.
  20. JuliaJulia

    JuliaJulia Newcomer

    I agree. My favorite fictional character Kinsey Milhone a badass detective always cleaned her toilet when she was depressed or stuck on a case. Cleaning is in fact therapy.
    plum likes this.

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