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Do you believe?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Cap'n Spanky, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    Do you believe that your pain or symptoms are caused by a psychosomatic process and not due to a structural defect or some chemical imbalance in the body?

    Do I truly believe it?
    To me, it may be the most important question. And like any matter of faith, the path from point A to point B is not a straight line. It's a process and often a long one.

    If I ask my friendly neighborhood doctor or scientist if he or she believes it, they're likely to give a muted, somewhat skeptical and patronizing response. (Unless, of course they are highly enlightened in the world of mindbody medicine).

    At some point, I have set aside the conventional thinking; the thinking I've been programmed all my life to believe.... and take that leap of faith.

    That's when I've always seen my most dramatic results and gotten better.
    jennyc19, tgirl, TG957 and 3 others like this.
  2. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    The reason I posted the above is because I've been doing a lot of body-related practice lately (somatic tracking, body scanning meditation, etc). This is foreign to the way I approached my TMS in the past. I was more of an old-school, ignore your symptoms guy. That's a big oversimplification, but you get the idea.

    All the body-stuff is amazing and brilliant, but I realized I had lost sight of something. Ultimately, I have to come to believe that my symptoms have a psychosomatic cause.

    I always thought there were parallels between Alcoholics Anonymous and this program. They both treat debilitating disease without drugs or surgery. A.A. uses a spiritual and psychological program to recover and we use a mostly psychological one.

    Belief is at the core of A.A. Before they take the first step, they begin the process of accepting they are alcoholic. (My name is .... and I'm an alcoholic). Step Two: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”.

    Belief is not a switch I can turn on. It's a process of gradual exposure to ideas and experiences that reframes my perception of the world.
    jennyc19, Ellen, tgirl and 1 other person like this.
  3. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Cap'n Spanky, this is exactly right and very well said. I spent 5 years since I learned about TMS thinking about it. Yes, belief is a foundational factor to recovery.

    A skeptic by my nature, I spent my first months analyzing and re-analyzing my symptoms, dissecting my diagnoses (which were numerous, but only one of them was accurate and it was TMS) and hoping that the puzzle of my condition will assemble perfectly and produce a magic pill. Turns out, analysis was useless. It took me close to a year to develop an unshakeable belief that what I experienced was unmistakenly TMS. And it was only then that my recovery became steady, and setbacks aka extinction bursts became shorter and shorter in duration.

    What fascinates me the most is what separates a successful TMS-er from unsuccessful TMS-er. Yes, belief is the key, but what is that sets apart those who developed that belief and those who could not? Is there a set of rules that one should follow in order to succeed in developing such a belief?

    I am doing some reading on the subject and thinking about it, hope to arrive on some kind of cohesive set of points that I could share here on the forum.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2021
    TrustIt, Ellen, miffybunny and 2 others like this.
  4. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    Wish I could give you a set of rules, TG. :) Obviously, it's a process and a journey that is different for everyone. I remember in A.A. there was a saying, "I came to ... and then, I came to believe".

    When I first discovered Dr. Sarno and TMS, I desperately wanted to believe. I was ready to drink the Kool-Aid. I saw results fairly soon, but it still took four or five months for my back pain and sciatica to go away. Strangely (around the same time) I still thought my tennis elbow was structural. It took nearly two years and unsuccessful surgery for me to to go "W-T-F... this is TMS! Then, the pain went away immediately.

    Pain is not an issue for me anymore, but I still struggle sometimes with other things, particularly a fatigue related stuff. That's why I posted the above. As a sort of public affirmation, acknowledgement, and remembrance how important belief and acceptance is to this process.
    Ellen likes this.
  5. Idearealist

    Idearealist Peer Supporter

    Isn't it possible for it to be both? Or rather, one is the cause, and the other compounds the issue?
    Ellen and Cap'n Spanky like this.
  6. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    Of course and that can make recovery more challenging. It makes belief more challenging.

    Usually structural issues can be identified, addressed, and eventually get better. It's the not-so-clearly-identified, chronic, seemingly never-ending pathologies that are the red-flags of TMS.

    Dr. Howard Schubiner has a worksheet that helps you identify if what you have is TMS. It's available here:
    Do You Have Mind Body Syndrome (MBS) or Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) (unlearnyourpain.com)
    TG957 and Idearealist like this.
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I am fascinated by this too and have been thinking about it throughout my 6+ years of recovery/relapse/recovery. Most recently this topic came to mind when I had this experience:

    Since my initial recovery from TMS in 2013, I have had many episodes of relapse. My symptoms usually aligned very closely with those I had in the past. Still, sometimes it would take me a while to realize that I was experiencing TMS yet again. Sometimes I realized it was TMS fairly quickly. But I was fooled in the last couple of years when completely new symptoms appeared that were intermittent. I went down the rabbit hole again of thinking I had something wrong with my body, probably associated with aging, and was contemplating seeing a PT or chiropractor. Fortunately before I went that far down the rabbit hole, I decided to entertain the thought these new symptoms were TMS. I spent a couple of days pondering about this and trying to be very honest with myself about it. I finally arrived at the thought, "Yes, this is once again TMS". A few moments after having that thought, my symptoms disappeared completely and haven't returned.

    What happened in that moment following the thought "Yes, this is TMS"? What is that? I've experienced it before in my TMS journey, and it always feels like a miracle because I have no other way to explain what happened. Is this the result of belief, and if so, what is that? Is this what the infamous "book cure" is? Or is it letting go of old, untrue beliefs rather than developing a new belief? Like the belief that there is something wrong with my body or that forces outside myself are responsible for this? Is it a letting go of the belief that I'm a victim, either of a flawed body or an unfair world? Is it that letting go of the belief that I'm a victim and therefore powerless, mean that I am now empowered to allow myself to be symptom-free? Or is this moment a release from fear as many people seem to say? Or is there a neurological explanation--is this the moment a new neural pathway is formed or activated? Or is my higher, conscious brain now overriding my more primitive, unconscious brain?

    All my questions seem to lead to the central question, do we need to understand this to replicate it in ourselves and others? Based on my experience, the answer to this question is no. I have replicated it many times now. Many people on this Forum, clients of therapists and doctors, and readers of Sarno and others have experienced it without a uniform theoretical construct to explain it. But as @TG957 states above, what about those who don't experience "the miracle" and recovery? What is the best way to help them?
    TG957, Cap'n Spanky and Idearealist like this.
  8. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    As a TMS-er with a rich history of chronic pains, I face every new outbreak with the assumption that it is TMS. Each one manifests itself so vividly physical that makes me doubt on occasion. I do concede every now and then, enough to take a painkiller, but in the past 3 years I have been mostly successful in getting over knee pains, back pains and headaches. Despite that, I never was lucky enough for the pain to disappear instantly, it usually takes few days or even weeks for the pain to fade away. But I have a persistent recurrence of pains in different parts of my body, which still does not get in a way of me living normal life, thanks to my knowledge about TMS.
    Cap'n Spanky and Idearealist like this.
  9. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I should add that my TMS recoveries are not always instantaneous. Sometimes it takes days or weeks. Just adds another question, why does it take more time sometimes and not others?

    P.S. I have no idea why my post above appears in blue font. Another mystery :)
    TG957 and Cap'n Spanky like this.
  10. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Our minds work in mysterious ways. Go figure, why some people read Sarno's book and never feel pain again and some have to labor for months or years to beat the pain back.
    Ellen likes this.
  11. miffybunny

    miffybunny Beloved Grand Eagle

    I could probably compile a list at this point but one reason is that people think that their situation is somehow "so far gone" or "off the rails" that "it's too late" for them. This of course, is a false belief but it's something I hear a lot and I suffered with this doubt myself.
    Cap'n Spanky and Ellen like this.
  12. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Or maybe sometimes we believe it just has to take time.
  13. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I just had another relapse/recovery experience that seems relevant to the discussion on the role of belief. I am continually amazed at how easily I can fall into old TMS patterns. This time I developed an intense pain in my neck and upper shoulders that is very familiar to me. I had been watching in horror on TV to some political events that occurred recently here in the US, and went into an acute stress response. Then I mainlined the news for days to follow the events, while my pain worsened. I did yoga, deep breathing, and meditation which gave me a few hours of relief, but the pain continued. The explanation I had for the pain was that I had a stress response that released cortisol and other stress hormones into my system, which led to me tensing my muscles, and then to the pain. While there is some truth in this explanation, it only describes the physical phenomenon in my body, and clearly supports the belief that this reaction is the result of something that is happening TO me.

    Then on Sunday I watched the digital premier of the movie This Might Hurt which follows Dr. Schubiner and some of his TMS patients (which is very good, by the way). As I was watching this I slowly began to realize that this pain I was experiencing was something that I was creating. It wasn't being done TO me, but BY me. That change in belief meant that I had the power to stop doing it. By the end of the movie my pain was 80% gone, and by the next morning it was completely gone.

    The only change was a shift in belief.
    miffybunny likes this.
  14. linnyc87

    linnyc87 Peer Supporter

    I noticed in ever success story, they found out about TMS and good excited because they realized they could get back to living their lives. The people that don't heal quickly don't seem excited. That's just my observation.

    This isn't discussed in the TMS community, but for me, I have subconscious benefits to my health issues. I truly believe that's the reason why I haven't recovered. Deep down inside, I fear recovery because it means I have to get back to life---which was unfulfilling and consisted of nothing but hard work and disconnection.

    Again, I'm only speaking for myself.
    Cap'n Spanky likes this.
  15. miffybunny

    miffybunny Beloved Grand Eagle

    I truly believe that anyone who suffers from TMS is avoiding their emotions and life to begin with. Otherwise they would not have TMS lol! A huge part of "recovery" is making practical changes in one's life. I personally had to make many. Examples of this are endless but some examples are: changing jobs, moving, breaking up with someone , dating new people, joining clubs, pursuing hobbies, following one's passions, doing things one enjoys that bring joy to a joyless life, social interaction, connection with others (family, friends), learning how to say "No" and asserting oneself, setting boundaries etc. etc. etc. Based on your comment, a great thing to do would be start exploring what your heart desires, what are your values and needs, what do you enjoy doing, what are you good at, what would give you meaning? Having fun, laughter and relaxation are vital towards calming down the brain and disabling the TMS strategy.
    Cap'n Spanky likes this.
  16. linnyc87

    linnyc87 Peer Supporter

    TMS didn't really keep me from the things that I love, such as cooking, gardening, etc. It kept me from the the things that I hate, like working a job. I've changed careers many times, thinking that would help. I've moved several times, ended relationships, dated, etc. and still felt the same.

    The problem is, I'm lazy and, on a deeper level, I enjoy being lazy. I don't want to work at all. But there's another part of me that knows not working isn't sustainable. I feel that's where the anxiety comes into play.

    I'm just not sure what to do for my specific situation. I really wish I enjoyed working.

    I guess it's possible that I'm just unfulfilled on a heart/soul level. PerhapsI haven't spent enough time exploring that.
    Cap'n Spanky, TrustIt and miffybunny like this.
  17. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    I think this message of getting out and living our lives is an important one. I retired fairly recently and have an natural inclination to isolate. Retirement has made it all the easier to do. Add COVID-19 on top and if it weren't for my wife and dog, I'd be a full-on hermit. I have no doubt that the isolation has contributed to the CFS I've been experiencing lately. I've seen my symptoms lesson the few times I have gotten out of the house and done stuff and been around other people.
  18. TrustIt

    TrustIt Well known member

    I would like to share something I heard last night that spurred an aha moment for me about belief and getting what you want.

    You don't get what you want, you get what you're interested in. Usually people are very interested in what they are afraid of. So there is a lot of emotional charge around that, setting up a relationship with the very thing you don't want. This is using the law of attraction to bring about what you don't want.
    Cap'n Spanky likes this.

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