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Day 9... self on a skewer

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Michael Reinvented, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. Michael Reinvented

    Michael Reinvented Peer Supporter

    I have been thinking about what makes me most self critical at present, and it's the fact that TMS has thrown up a huge block, interms of my lifelong track record of getting to the right result.

    This lack of progress is in contrast to being a relatively (materially) successful individual since I started supporting myself 32 years ago aged 18, and a kids 19 years ago.

    I too often ponder on WHY? after being successful in other areas of my life, can't I settle theses symptoms? Even now, having read and jounaled exactly as recommened, my symptoms seem to be worsening, so the logical question is "What is stopping my success this time?" Does anyone else out there recall this thread of thinking, especially if you have managed to start to reverse the pain symptoms. Was the breakthrough simply time, patience and belief?

    Lastly, in the past week I have been (literally) screaming at my subconscious when privacy permits demanding that it let the "feelings out!!". I have been tempted into some pretty unsavoury extremely loud descriptions of my subconscious, personifying it. I must admit to feeling purged by this technique, but wonder on another level whether this is more potentially damaging self criticism?
  2. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    The Western myth of the narcissistic self-made, self-reliant man may have something to do with the onset of your symptoms, perhaps? You can motivate yourself for a long, long time with that myth, but when you start to grow "older" sometimes you have to confront emotional issues you've been evading and keeping deeply buried a long, long time too. I think Dr. Sarno devotes a whole chapter in HBP to why the onset of symptoms occurs at a particular time and place. Evasion and distraction are the key terms here I believe.
  3. Susan

    Susan Peer Supporter

    Michael, (reboot)

    I can relate. I read and continue to read Sarno starting in June. I recently retired from a long and highly successful career. TMS appeared soon after my life changed from high career achievement to "down time". Without the distraction of work, I became locked in physical symptoms. Working the Structured Ed Program on this site has worked well for me. I still have days of discomfort that makes me obsess. However, after close to 8 weeks in i am seeing results.I also am working through Howard Schubiner's book and Ed program.

    It is important to be kind to yourself, to not beat yourself up because your life successes do not translate to success with TMS.

    Sarno says the unconscious thinks it is doing us a favor by activating the pain as a way to avoid the emotions. Maybe journaling and other psychological approaches will help you access the emotions. It has worked for me. It is refreshing to feel my feelings. Also, remember it is the understanding of what is going on in your unconscious that can bring on relief and a cure.

    There are lots of great success stories, tips and posts on this site. You will see yourself in the story of so many others and can gain from their experiences. I now know this process takes time and I believe it is worth it.

    Best to you,

    Forest likes this.
  4. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Think Steve Ozanich calls that onset of TMS symptoms the "calm after the storm". Work and career function as diversions from emotions you'd rather not face. Then, you retire and the distraction no longer works, but the hyper-active, obsessive, perfectionist mind goes into overdrive and TMS symptoms emerge as something to replace an over-achieving career, something to obsess over and pour all your psychic energy into.

    Michael, it sounds as though you should be looking into the life context in which your symptoms are manifesting. They may offer a clue about how to short-circuit the TMS process. Interesting how success and the free time it brings on can often offer a fertile breeding ground for psychogenic symptoms. You see that often with rock stars and entertainers who, after that first hit record or box office smash, begin to come undone under the pressure of their own success. Can happen in a diminished mode for those of us who are out of the public eye too!

    Good luck!

  5. Michael Reinvented

    Michael Reinvented Peer Supporter

    Susan and MorComm, thanks for these words of Encouragement, they really help.

    Michael, it sounds as though you should be looking into the life context in which your symptoms are manifesting.

    MorComm, I take it that your suggestion above hints at me looking carefully at my highest work purpose? An honest self assessment is the balance of my life is in a pretty stable state.

    Currently maintaining my buisness is a dual edge sword. It has become my identity and is a welcome distraction from obsessing over pain, yet presents weekly anxiety over how to maintain it's viability.

    FYI, the onset of my symptoms coincided with the global credit squeeze of 2009 and a sharp downturn in my business turnover. At this time I was also training for a 21,000 foot Mountain Climb with my then hyper fit 13 year old Son. Feeling invincible as I had physically for years, and not wanting to do anything but leap down the mountain with my boy ( no gingerly picking my way down like an old man), I incorrectly over trained on a Gym Stairmaster, and wound up with plantar fasciitis in my left heel... and the pain has determinedly spread from there....
  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Michael, I too have noticed an eery parallel between boom-bust economic cycles and the onset of TMS symptoms. For instance, my herniated disk didn't occur right when my mother died (although that must have been a big psychic shock that added to feelings of abandonment), but rather just after the dot.com collapse led to the end of a lucrative contract I had with a cable test and measurement company in the East Bay. Not coincidentally I'd say, my TMS relapse occurred after the collapse in housing market in 2007-2008. However, I don't think I would have gotten the 'herniated disk' or chronic sciatic pain if I didn't have an over-achieving perfectionist T-personality in the first place. Some people would shrug such setbacks off and enjoy the moment, which is very well what I could have done. Me? No way! Too addicted to winning, or rather, to the feeling of winning even after that feeling has become redundant. After all, I'm supposed to be enjoying my retirement, right? Not hurtin' like a sucker . . .
  7. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    It is important to understand what stresses (either past or present) attribute to the onset of our symptoms, but, as MorComm mentioned, our over-achieving perfectionist T-personality, is a major factor in how we react to these situations and the development of our symptoms.

    Recovering from TMS requires that we look inside ourselves to heal. There is a tendency for people to journal exactly right, and they wonder why they don't get better. Part of the reason is that they view journaling as a way to relieve their pain, but this is simply looking outside of themselves for answers. Journaling can help you process your emotions and identify repressed emotions, but in the end to recover you need to think psychological and accept the diagnosis. for a lot of people journaling isn't all that important. The biggest key for a lot of people is to simply understand that they have deeply repressed emotions that are creating their symptoms. Sometimes you don't even need to fully understand and overcome these repressed emotions.

    One thing that prevents a lot of people from recovering is that they bring their obsessive and perfectionist personality into their recovery. People with TMS are very often driven and highly successful in their careers. The problem is that the personality traits of perfectionism, which are great career wise, can prevent you from recovering. This personality puts pressure on ourselves to recover right away and to do it perfectly, which in turn keeps us focusing on our symptoms instead of our emotions. The key is to be more allowing and accepting. The more you resist your symptoms, the more they persist. You are not trying to rid yourself of your symptoms. You are trying to understand and accept the emotions you have been repressing. When you achieve that, the reason for your symptoms will fade away.
    MorComm and Susan like this.
  8. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    This reminds me, Forest, so much of the way I approached PT after my so-called 'herniated disk' in 2002-2003. Okay, I did every single one of my back exercises and weight lifts in exactly the same order, each and every day, no matter what, in a perfectly symmetrical pattern that mirrored my own perfectionist personality. I so wanted to be a "model patient" that the therapists could point to as someone who had followed the program and healed himself. IOWs: Not only was I being a perfectionist over-achiever, I was also indulging my T-personality 'goodist' tendencies, wanting to be liked as a model pain patient.

    The only problem was that by doing this not only did I get over my back pain, I also reinforced the programmed personality patterns that had caused my chronic pain in the first place! This also reinforced my faith in the structural diagnosis, so that when I had my relapse in 2007-2008, I went right back to physical therapy and started doing everything the therapists said in just the 'right' way again. This no doubt reinforced my programmed pain patterns and made it even more difficult to get rid of them.

    To make a long story short, it wasn't until I read Dr. Sarno and started noticing the correlation between feelings of abandonment after the death of my mother and similar feelings of abandonment after a romance ended badly that I began to recognize the intimate connection between events in my emotional life and the onset of my back pain syndrome. When I stopped working so hard at exercises, hiking and Pilates was when I gained enough psychological distance on my TMS to begin to undo the deeply ingrained patterns of emotional repression that lay behind the pain. Obsessive over-achieving behavior patterns, I slowly learned, also reflect the underlying emotional problems that were the cause of my chronic pain syndrome. You just can't overwork yourself out of the problem, you have to begin to 'think different' as the late Steven Jobs once put it. But that's not as easy as going into project-mode and trying to work your way out of it, is it? Not easy for a perfectionist over-achiever who's trying to overcome a chronic case of low self-esteem by working like a fiend so all his contemporaries will like and 'admire' him.

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