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New Program Day 16: Emotional Repression

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Alan Gordon LCSW, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    I can really relate to this post, and it has been one of the major players in my getting well and TMS sticking around. I have it licked about 85-90% I'd say, but the stress, which creates the emotions, such as fear, anger, sadness, is sometimes forced back down, when it comes to familal relationships and triggers that seemingly come out of nowhere that precipates the pain. Its a cyclical process that can sneak up on you when you least expect it - or want it.

    For example: I am month two into my new job of being a writer for a local company. I type 8 hours a day, (a feat that took me years to accomplish) and some days, I just grin because of meeting that goal. But just a few days ago, I had a crown placed at the dentist, and she couldn't get my mouth numb. It took 10 shots to finally numb it, but in between that time, I felt the pian. The trigger was also that I write content for dentist offices and have learned more than I wanted to know about procedures. I already have a dental phobia, because of some past traumatic experiences with a dentist. This just flared it up, and that night, I felt sick to my stomach, and for the last few days, heartburn has been pretty bad. Of course, for a day, I started into my old habit of thinking something was wrong - until I figured out thr trigger and gently told my brain there is no need to overeact and it could calm down. (which it now has)

    Point is, feel your feelings, process them, and move on. Try to not get stuck in the same habit pattern, which is easier said than done, but it works. I have done more this year than I have done in 20 years, even with a "frozen shoulder," "chostochondritis," "hiatal hernia," "IBS," et, al. Has the anxiety reared its ugly head? Oh yes - but, I now have the tools to control it, feel the emotion attached to it, let my brain know it's not dangerous, and move on, just as I did with the pain. Once that process is in motion, you can lick just about anything!
    lindyr, TrustIt, TMS.no.more and 6 others like this.
  2. Lunarlass66

    Lunarlass66 Well known member

    Hey Plum... The movie's called Inside Out and it was released in 2015...not sure who produced it, Disney? Pixar? It looks like a cute one, I LOVE aninated movies, I guess it's from working with kids for 30 years! You're never too old to entertain the kid in you! :)
    plum likes this.
  3. SME61

    SME61 Peer Supporter

    This is very helpful. I am taking a mindfulness 8 week course and many of these techniques seem similar. Are they?
    I like the fact the you are focusing on the pain and desensitization by creating awareness and curiosity and a safe place with breathing.
    Is this what we are hoping to do be aware of the pain but not fear it?
  4. Ewok

    Ewok Peer Supporter

    So when the date doesn't turn up, he should feel angry? Just feel the physical sensations until they pass? Then use the emotion to inform what he does next?
    Alan Gordon LCSW and Forest like this.
  5. shira

    shira New Member

    Hi Alan
    this forum is fantastic. I await each day's posting with great enthusiasm because for the first time I feel that your approach and posts plus the sharing that many folk are doing is so uplifting and inspiring for those of us who felt there was no hope and no real guidance as to how to manage TMS.
    your forum provides all that and more.
    Thank you most sincerely, and with great appreciation,
  6. Kat

    Kat Peer Supporter

    Alan, thanks for this. I know that I have a lot of rage from my childhood, and even though I am aware of it, I find it hard to express it - I've always been afraid to express anger, because I fear abandonment, and so have always been a 'people pleaser'. Do you think it's important to journal emotions, to get them out? I think I have more anger than I am in touch with - I find it hard to access it, although I know it's in there, and often I get annoyed by small things, which I think is because I am deep down so angry about the big things (bad childhood, current pain and inability to control what's going on with my body).
    My other question is with the somatic desensitization. I find that when I try to focus on my breath, especially after focusing on the pain, I'm not able to, because the pain is so much louder. It is shouting! And the breath is quiet in comparison. Do you have any tips on this?
    Thanks for all you are putting into this programme - we are all very grateful.
    Laleah Shoo Shoo, nele and plum like this.
  7. Tala

    Tala New Member

    Hi all, so I have a question regarding anger after listening to the John clip. So I grew up with a false religion where my parents taught me that the only way to get to Heaven was to be perfect. Since I am not capable of obtaining perfection, I would need to be as good as possible so I do not come back in the next life worse off than this current life. I was taught to hide my emotions because they might inconvenience someone. My household showed no emotions. My goal in life has been to blend in so as not to bother anyone, therefore not getting points against me with the universe. Really my goal is not to be punished in this unsafe world. So fast forward to now, I know the above isn't true (and my parents now know it isn't true as well) but I still live my life like it is. I feel some sadness but I have trouble with being angry at my parents (feeling that emotion towards them) because they taught me this because they believed it, they did love me and that is why they shared what they believed. I think I'm so stuck because I should be angry at them because here I am at age 38 still feeling scared all the time, constantly anxious about everything, not to mention my various physical pain symptoms. I tell myself I can be angry and they will never have to know....but I still can't seem to do it. Any thoughts on this? It is so stupid that I can't allow myself to feel this when it might make my life so much better. Apparently I don't think I'm worthy of that? Good grief. I did not grow up being shown or taught compassion, so I think I struggle with that (towards myself and others). Thank you!
    MentorCoach likes this.
  8. billiewells

    billiewells Peer Supporter

    I would like to start by saying that I think Alan's new course is absolutely brilliant. Stripping away a lot of stuff, that as a TMS personality type, I can really get lost in and using great graphics and videos. However . . . you knew it was coming right :) . . . all the examples that Alan is giving is for chronic pain and as someone who has all sorts of problems that prevent me walking, drop foot amongst them and a history of anxiety/agoraphobia, and have enormous discomfort but no pain, it would be great if these equally disabling conditions could get a mention.

    I know deep down that all the tools are the same, but the tingles, the numbness, the lack of balance are never mentioned, just the pain.

    My brain wants to play games with me and say, "This is not for you", but I know it is .

    Could Alan please give me some guidance on this.

    Many many thanks x
    Laleah Shoo Shoo, nele and James59 like this.
  9. Click#7

    Click#7 Well known member

    I get it to some point, but what I loved about Dr. Sarno is that he kept it so simple. You guys are coming out with a whole new language that is sometimes difficult to follow and understand. I can't even remember all the terms you use because when folks are in pain ....we may have to go back and look at day 2 then day 9 then day 13...etc. I hope you understand this is meant to be constructive. Having to re clarify what the points are can be stressful. If Dr. Sarno gave his pupils that "knowledge " in his class and then in his book Divided Mind "daily study program"...is so much easier to follow. Sometimes I think you guys are getting so deep and being a novice to TMS or MBS or PPD ...I understand but a lot of this is what a person who needs psychoanalysis gets into with their counselor.
    Lunarlass66 likes this.
  10. Eugene

    Eugene Well known member

    It is a good point you raise, but I find this stuff resonates with me more than the talk of repressed anger.

    I feel that emotion, anxiety, and fear played a part in bringing this pain on (and Alan is talking about those a lot) and they are now playing a part in keeping it alive.

    Maybe what would be great is if Alan could give us some kind of plan to follow. I know a lot of it should just be down to knowledge, but I find I need to some kind of plan.

    Either way, I am really glad for all this awesome information and the discussion threads for each post.
    Hayley, Kat, James59 and 4 others like this.
  11. Click#7

    Click#7 Well known member

    I agree with you 100 %. I have severe TMS and I feel I am making progress by just reading over and over again HBP and the chapters on psychology and treatment. I also keep reading parts of the GPD deception by Steve O. because I can relate to his painful experience. I think what Alan explains is great, but I have to backtrack to keep remembering what certain topics are about (terms) and how to apply what he is teaching. That's all. It is constructive points I make. No harm meant because it takes a huge amount of time for what Alan is trying so hard to explain. I find myself attending to what I feel and soothe my inner child. I tell myself daily there is no need for danger and my fears are unfounded. I also try to just breath thru the pain and live in the moment. If I get anything out of this program I hope that's it.
  12. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    You need give yourself time to assimilate. This is the stuff of life. Simple but not easy and all that jazz. :)

    As a old timer in TMS terms @Alan Gordon LCSW program is gifting me with some fresh insights and perspectives that are invaluable. I like to let them simmer awhile and not apply undue pressure to understand and apply it all in one go.

    I love Sarno and I have immense respect for him and all he bravely created. Without him none of us would be here now, hopeful and healing. However I did everything I could over the years using his books as a guide and I ended up chasing my tail. I need more and neuropsychology is the very thing.

    Remember there is no right or wrong way, only your way. The gift of this forum is helping each other find our way and commit to it. We are reclaiming our authentic selves so it is no wonder we must pass through dense times of confusion and bewilderment. But with tender devotion and spirit the bounty of healing is ours.

    Keep your faith my love.
    Katya, Amatxu, TMS.no.more and 10 others like this.
  13. Alan Gordon LCSW

    Alan Gordon LCSW TMS Therapist

    There are a lot of great questions on this subject.
    Hi Kat,
    Great question. It's not necessary to express emotions to process them, only feel them. It's possible to feel the sensation of rage in the body, and experience it fully, without even needing to verbalize it.
    Be easy on yourself, Tala, we can't force ourselves to feel emotions that our brains think are dangerous, no matter how justified they might be. Learning to feel an emotion is a learnable skill. Sometimes we need a teacher to help us develop this skill. There's a great modality of treatment known as ISTDP that can help people overcome their barriers and get in touch with powerful repressed emotions.
    Hi Click,
    One of the difficult things about following a program like this is that it gives all the information that anyone might need. When we work with someone one-on-one, we're able to determine what aspects of this program apply directly to them. In day 21, I'm going to be talking about this in more detail. Regarding the different terms, most of the concepts are actually pretty simple. Cognitive soothing just means treating yourself nicely. Somatic tracking just means checking in with your body. I've found that people often like having names for things because it can make things more concrete. But it isn't necessary to know all the terms or think along those lines.
    Yes and yes. A lot of techniques that we're using involve components of mindfulness. When you can be aware of the pain and not fear it or resist it, you're cutting off the fuel source for the pain. Of course it's getting to this place that's the hard part.
    Journaling can help us discover new issues and process feelings. There are many different paths to the same outcome. Somatic tracking is one tool, journaling is another. I wouldn't look at what we are going over in this program and the process of journaling as distinct, in fact, we may be putting a program together down the line that integrates the two.
    Emotions aren't the only states that our brains can perceive as dangerous, there are others. Tomorrow I'll be talking about some more of them. Although increasing our ability to tolerate scary emotions is important, it's not the only thing. I've worked with many people who were able to overcome their symptoms and learn to feel safe, and we didn't even address emotions. The most important part of recovery is changing your relationship with fear. Feeling your feelings is just a part of that overall equation.
  14. Click#7

    Click#7 Well known member

    Thanks Alan for responding so quick....I know you care !!!
  15. shmps

    shmps Peer Supporter

    "The most important part of recovery is changing your relationship with fear. Feeling your feelings is just a part of that overall equation."

    Do you mean changing the relationship with fear of pain, fear of emotions (bodily sensations), fear of people/situation/event/incidents/arguments/loss/failure...

    I think everything, people, situation, incidents, etc like conflict with people, situation of an accident, incident of job loss.. etc all cause emotions, which are nothing but bodily sensations and our brain fears feeling those sensations and turns on the danger signal.

    Is it that simple, just get familiar with all that happens in your body then the day to day life that brings stress, will not result in pain because your brain feels SAFE with all that is happening in your body. You cannot avoid stress, you can make friends with the sensations in your body that this stress brings and lessen its negative power to trigger pain. THIS IS MY UNDERSTANDING OF TMS, in nutshell.
    nele, Ellen, Lunarlass66 and 2 others like this.
  16. thecomputer

    thecomputer Well known member

    I personally don't think it's very complicated. Dr sarnos books can leave a lot of questions unanswered and in a way you just have to believe blindly.

    I find Alan's approach answers a lot of these questions while working in parallel with sarnos work.

    And without all the jargon, it's basically :

    Fear keeps pain going
    Check in with your body
    Re align your thoughts

    Ive been reading Buddhist books and going on retreats since I was young, and it's interesting how everything you are encouraged to do on this program is based in Buddhism.

    Neuroscience is just confirming most of what the Buddha said about the mind, and he worked it out alone over 2500 years ago!
  17. shmps

    shmps Peer Supporter

    Hi robodelfy, If I were to ask you to add a few bulleted points on what to do regarding each line you wrote, what would you suggest? I have added some tools that I felt would fit well to each line.

    Fear keeps pain going
    Check in with your body - somatic tracking, feel your feelings, mindful meditation,
    Re align your thoughts - cognitive soothing, empowering thoughts, overcome uncertainty, stop destructive thoughts, stand up to the bully, outcome independent thoughts
    Ren, James59, Ellen and 2 others like this.
  18. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Exactly this. One of the best teachers and healers out there is Rick Hanson who is a neuropsychologist and Buddhist. I've been championing his work on this forum for a long time now because I realised how powerfully it addressed TMS.

    In fact in his most recent newsletter he features an article by Nicole Sachs so he is aware of Sarno and the inherent mind~body connections in the pain equation.

    Here is a link to his site:

    http://www.rickhanson.net/ (Dr. Rick Hanson: The Neuroscience of Lasting Happiness)

    While he is not addressing pain per se he is addressing life and how to live a peaceful, happier life centred on well-being. I believe that to be more important. You overcome pain incidentally on the way to creating a happier, healthier brain ecosystem.
    Katya, Ren, Dahlia and 5 others like this.
  19. Eugene

    Eugene Well known member

    As a Buddhist I can confirm that there are many connections between what's being taught around TMS and a lot of Buddhist thinking/philosophy. Indeed, the whole mindfulness movement came out of Buddhist practices.

    Unfortunately, even though I am pretty knowledgeable regarding Buddhism, I still struggle hugely with all of this mindbody stuff. The fact that I know my discomfort is being caused and/or made worse by my 'mind', doesn't make it any easier to sort out.

    The whole of the Four Noble Truths is focused on suffering and the path that frees us from suffering, and it makes total sense. Every time I read about that, or any of the mind training/Tonglen practices in Buddhism I just know, 100%, it is all relating to the suffering I, and all of us on the forum, are going through or have been though.

    But ...

    Sometimes, we need to see things from a different paradigm, and I think Alan has done an amazing job of help to boil things down to the most important things such as fear, emotions, feelings, etc. Yes, Buddhism covers all of this (and much much much more) but sometimes you need these things hammering home.

    In Buddhism there is something referred to as Kleshas. Here's the definition from wikipedia.

    Kleshas (Buddhism) ... Kleshas (Sanskrit: क्लेश, translit. kleśa; Pali: किलेस kilesa; Standard Tibetan: ཉོན་མོངས། nyon mongs), in Buddhism, are mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Kleshas include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc.

    Isn't this pretty much exactly what Alan, and indeed Dr Sarno himself, has been speaking about. So yes, the Buddha certainly had a handle on all of this stuff 2500 years ago (which is amazing), and although I know all of this to be true, I desperately need someone like Alan, and all the other wonderful people working with TMS and mindbody related pain, to help me to make sense of this so that I can deal with the discomfort I have had for two years.
    Dahlia, nele, plum and 2 others like this.
  20. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Nice summary. I was thinking of making an outline of the program, and this is what I had in mind, at least as a "30,000 foot view." Perhaps, as shmps suggested, we can fill it in a bit.
    Yes! I see it this way, too. (not disagreeing with Eugene, though)

    Periodically, I see people coming through the forum and their outlook changes to a more mindful one. I don't know what the "special sauce" is, but some of them seem to do it in a way where it doesn't feel like a means to the end of pain reduction, but is truly a genuine transformation. You just know that those people are going to be heal.

    I think of somatic tracking as a form of mindfulness meditation that is focused on the emotions via the body. It feels like something that is meant to transform how you interact with the your emotions on a daily basis (and therefore how you interact with the world).

    Dr. Schubiner is also hugely into mindfulness. He learned to teach mindfulness from Jon Kabat-Zinn, the person who really introduced western medicine to the power of meditation (author of Full Catastrophe Living).

    A corollary of this observation is that this program is not a small, short term project. Rather, like mindfulness and meditation, it is a long term project to transform the way that you relate to your symptoms and your emotions. The healing comes from that transformation.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
    shmps, nele, Ellen and 1 other person like this.

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