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Day 27 - Trouble connecting pain to emotions

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by JRMTL, Aug 8, 2022.

  1. JRMTL

    JRMTL New Member

    Today, on day 27, the journaling assignment is this: "Take a past event or strong emotions and journal about how it has caused minor, or major, flare-ups of TMS/PPD. This can be something like allergies or acid reflux, or a pain problem such as back pain or leg pain. As you write try to think of the story behind the flare-up and attempt to connect how the symptom was caused by repressed emotions."

    To date I have not been able to identify any particular emotion or stress when I'm having pain. The closest I've come is connecting one of my first chronic pains to a particular event. During my first walk after giving birth to my first child, I started having excruciating toe pain. It's continued on and off for 14 years. After extensive testing, of course all I was diagnosed with incurable nerve damage that wasn't even visible through any of the tests. For years I thought the pain was from the force I exerted on my toes pressing them in the bathtub as I gave birth. But now I realize it's definitely TMS. My first TMS symptom in fact. But I'm not sure about the emotion attached to it. It's very likely that it's either stress over becoming a parent, or not being a good enough mom or something along those lines. But I'm not sure.

    I have several other pains that move around, some old, some new, but I have not been able to identify a source of stress or particular emotion present when the pain first started or even when it flares up today.

    Do you have any advice on how I can do this?
  2. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think you may find more possibilities as you move along in the program.
    Perhaps your stress isn’t necessarily generated by an event, but perhaps a conglomeration of personality traits, or your general patterned reactions to stressors, or a general build up of stress culminating with birth, snd thoughts around having family that are “unthinkable” ... thoughts that really don’t make sense to your conscience but are hiding in your unconscious. Eg is Sarno advocate Nichole Sachs who while journaling wrote that she hated being a mother. Parts of her had been resenting changes children bring, but she could not admit this to herself until she decided to be open and honest with herself. She loves her kids, not wanting to be a mom was really just her subconscious saying that she can love her kids but acknowledge that parenting is hard at the same time.
    Maybe nothing will really pan out for you in this part of your self examination. It’s all ok, just keep working and you might find some clues.
    Ellen and Cap'n Spanky like this.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is the key. Most of us edit what we write - that's our unconscious fearful brains convincing us that we don't really need to write something down. Forcing yourself to do it anyway is easier said than done. It's also essential to making progress.

    Nicole Sachs is such a great resource - her book, of course, plus her podcast (start with the first one), private FB group, live seminars and online programs. It's all on her website The Cure for Chronic Pain. An all-time forum favorite.
  4. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    I agree with @JanAtheCPA and her recommendation of Nichole Sachs. Here's a direct link to How to JournalSpeak — The Cure for Chronic Pain

    I personally found her book to be a bit all over the place, but other's may disagree. But I also really like her podcast and FB group. I'd also suggest starting with her first podcast and work your way through them.
    Cactusflower likes this.
  5. Booble

    Booble Well known member

    I think it's the wording of this that makes it challenging.
    Maybe try working backwards? Think about a flare-up and try to find what emotions may be connected.

    Here is a simple example.
    Symptom: I had a really bad sore throat.
    Event: I had to terminate an employee
    Surface Emotion: I feel bad that I'm taking away her job.
    Deeper Emotion: She won't like me.
    Examination: Why do I have a need to be liked?

    The examination area can then be explored further and deeper in writing.
    Ellen, JanAtheCPA and Cap'n Spanky like this.
  6. JRMTL

    JRMTL New Member

    Thank you for the reminders to check out Nicole Sachs. She was on my radar, but now I'll make sure to take a look at her program when I'm done with this one. And yes, I definitely have been editing my journaling and not digging deep enough. It's all part of the journey. I'll get there one day.
    Cap'n Spanky likes this.
  7. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Why not just go ahead and ask yourself in a journal “why can’t I be honest with myself”?
    It may be a topic you revisit several times. Perhaps start by listing everything you are afraid of.
    Another great question to journal on could be why you can’t answer these types of questions now.
    I found these types of questions hard but eye opening. Often once I write the answers I realize how untrue my fears are, how they are merely thoughts or head games but not truth. It totally wipes away the power of that fear for me.
    I keep a running list of journal questions. Even if I am not going to work on them now, they are there to ponder and consider.
    Cap'n Spanky likes this.
  8. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    I want to add to Cactusflower’s point about the need to be honest with yourself and her related earlier point about how that can require engaging in the unthinkable.

    Eric Sherman is a psychologist who worked in Sarno’s Rusk Institute Clinic at the NYU Langone Medical Center. He treated patients of Sarno who needed professional help to get in touch with their emotions. He contributed several stories to Sarno’s book The Divided Mind. One story was about a woman he called Hiroku (probably a pseudonym to protect her identity).

    Hiroku was a twenty-five year old insurance industry executive with a history of various TMS symptoms. The most recent one was pain in her right foot. When she met with Sarno, she had no trouble talking about her emotions. As one example, “she launched into a devastating tirade against her boyfriend without even breaking a sweat.” She told Sarno she agreed with his treatment approach and she often saw herself in his books. But she expressed skepticism about whether his approach would work for her because “she was already so in touch with her feelings.” She nonetheless accepted Sarno’s recommendation to do psychotherapy with Sherman.

    After a few therapy sessions, her foot pain was almost completely gone for reasons Sherman could not fathom. But then it returned with a vengeance, along with knee pain, wrist pain, and a rash on her forehead. That resurrected her earlier skepticism about Sarno’s treatment approach. Sherman responded by asking her about recent events in her life. He wrote: “Hiroku freely reported feeling angry about out-of-town visitors and how the requirements of hospitality further strained her already over scheduled life.” She reiterated her view that her ready access to her anger meant Sarno’s treatment approach was not for her.

    Sherman wrote that he

    “then explained to Hiroku that while many people are fully aware of experiencing emotions, a part of them struggles against feelings considered taboo. For example, many mothers are aware of resenting the demands of newborn babies, yet they often feel guilty. They are ashamed of having these feelings, even when their behavior toward the child remains beyond reproach. Hiroku then acknowledged that although she outwardly appeared gracious toward her guests during their entire stay, she felt ashamed of her resentment toward them. According to Hiroku, to experience resentment was tantamount to being selfish, no matter how you actually behaved.”​

    Hiroku began to use her foot pain as an indicator that she needed to engage in introspection about how she was really feeling about events in her life. Sherman continued: “However, she soon encountered an obstacle--the answers to her question were often unacceptable to her. For example, when she identified her anger towards a supervisor who unfairly criticized her, she experienced self-contempt for the very weakness which made her vulnerable to criticism in the first place.” Sherman concluded his story about Hiroku with this: “Overall, Hiroku’s symptomology remained significantly improved. Since Hiroku is in the earliest stages of treatment, further progress will no doubt be related to a deeper understanding of the interplay between her feelings of anger and neediness."

    I have neither the knowledge about you, JRMTL, nor the training to begin to assess whether the details of Sherman’s story about Hiroku have any relevance to you. I am not implying they do. I just want to illustrate that a personality trait one regards as taboo—whether it be selfishness, weakness, neediness, or something else—can make becoming aware of emotions like guilt, shame, or self-contempt related to the trait really hard.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2022
    Cap'n Spanky and JanAtheCPA like this.
  9. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Duggit, you always seem to come up with something that is awesomely on-point. It's good to see you.

    TDM was the only Sarno book I actually read, and it sure wouldn't hurt to revisit it. I bought my own copy back in 2011 after originally reading an e-book download from my library - but then I gave away the hardcopy. :D

  10. JRMTL

    JRMTL New Member

    @Duggit That absolutely 100% applies to me.

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