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Day 40 Dr Sarno's 12 daily reminders and how I respond to them

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by If 6 was 9, May 3, 2017.

  1. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    I meditate on Dr Sarno's 12 Daily Reminders each day - I spend 90 seconds repeating the words of each one while trying to focus on my breathing.

    I've been doing this for maybe a month or two and if this is the only TMS work I do all day, then so be it.

    I try to focus on my breathing, repeat the words to myself, but more importantly UNDERSTAND the meaning. It's difficult to stay permanently in the mediation zone, but by the end I find it quite heartening and am hoping it's all going to sink in as unconscious belief.

    Anyway, I thought I'd go through each and share my concerns - there's a couple which I'm not entirely sure I 'get'.

    1. The pain is from TMS and not from any structural abnormalities.
    Big tick on this one, I'm sold on it. Without going into too much detail, in 25 years of treating this as a physical problem, nothing has ever worked. When I first came across the TMS theory it made complete sense, and given I've suffered depression and anxiety over the same time as my back problems, it was never difficult to accept the psychological nature of the pain.

    2. The direct reason for the pain is mild oxygen deprivation.
    I'll just have to take the good Dr's word on this one as I think even he admits, it's a theory on what's happening physiologically to give the sensation of pain. Whether it really is oxygen, or some other trick of the brain or nervous system, I don't really care. The important thing is that pain is real and that it can happen whether there is damage to the tissue or not. So I'm all for this one too.

    3. TMS is a harmless condition caused by my repressed emotions.
    Ok, again I have to just accept this. The idea of repressed emotions does my head in. They're feelings that I'm unaware of. So if I'm unaware of them, how do I know what they are? I know journaling is meant to uncover them, but for me I haven't really unearthed any feelings I wasn't aware of. I've certainly re-remembered painful stuff, but it never seemed like a revelation. The best I can do is try to believe it and let it seep in to my unconscious, but it would be nice to have proof. Any advice?

    4. The principal emotion is my repressed ANGER.
    I really want this to be true because anger, or rage, comes up again and again in my readings and I think of myself as an angry person. But there's the rub - if anger gets out so easily (as my poor family could tell you) what is the anger I'm repressing? Is the anger that I let out just the tip of the iceberg? Outside of my family I'm known as easy-going and affable. So I'm wondering, what the hell is the anger that I'm not letting out or unaware of? It must be like a volcano waiting to erupt. Is that the right assumption?

    5. TMS only exists to distract my attention from the emotions.
    This makes sense - well, I've made it make sense. I've taken it on as belief. But I often wonder, could TMS not also be expression of the emotions? Does your brain or inner child really want to distract you from the emotions, or does it simply just want to let them out, and it picks easy targets like age-old injuries? The only thing that I can think of why Sarno made this distinction is because of the trickery involved. If it was just a matter of expression, why trick yourself? But if your brain sees a great opportunity to have you believe your pain is from some physical problem, as in my case, every time I bloody sit in a friggin chair, then that belief must serve a purpose, because the truth is something your brain (or id or inner child) reasons is worse than the physical pain. So I've just sold myself on this one too.

    6. Since my back is basically normal, there is nothing to fear.
    Big tick on this one. I've got the proof. I'm lucky enough to have a radiologist friend who when he was setting up his practice about five years ago asked me to come and test out his new MRI machine. I barely even knew what an MRI was. Strangely enough, the day that I was due to go in I did my back in, and badly (can't even remember how). As I propped myself upright by holding on to the pockets of my jeans while walking from the car to the practice (ever had to do that?), I thought to myself, what luck! Now we're going to see how bad my back really is. But when my mate looked at the scans, all he could say is "You've got the back of an 18 year old [I was early 40s], what are you complaining about, you bloody malingerer" (only a true friend could be so cruel). I was amazed - it was the first little clue that my back was 'basically normal'. Only since starting the SEP have I reflected that it was no coincidence that I 'put my back out' the day I was to have the MRI.

    7. Therefore physical activity is not dangerous.
    Sold! Though I'm still getting pain when I do things that I traditionally associate with back pain. Things like gardening, sweeping and any form of sitting. (Incidentally, should I even include sitting as physical activity?) Anyway, compared to how I was before in 'babying' by back, I'm now a lot more neglectful and sit however I want, bend over to pick things up without fear, do physical activity as needed. While I've had one day after moving furniture where I was in a lot of pain and a bit immobile, I've not had to spend a whole day in bed. Hopefully this continues.

    8. And I must resume all normal physical activity.
    As I said above, I now no longer don't do something for fear of hurting my back. I just do it, though I still get the pain. But I must confess I'm not doing any exercise like I used to. I used to do a lot of swimming. I had a love hate relationship with it. I loved the endorphins when I got out of the pool or the sense of achievement after completing an ocean swim without being eaten by a shark. But I hated the pressure I put myself under to keep doing the training and if I decided not to go, I beat myself up about it. So I thought I'd take the bully out of the equation and haven't done anything in months. But I keep seeing how people claim exercise really helped them overcome TMS, so do you think I should start swimming again? The other thing is that in the past swimming was recommended as something to help my back, so I thought I'd remove that, plus any other back-oriented exercise and stretch, which I've abstained from. I've put on 4kg in about six weeks so I'm thinking I should start exercising again.

    9. I will not be concerned or intimidated by the pain.
    This one I really want to be strong on, but sometimes it's really hard to be as detached as this requires. I used to add to this sentence "or be surprised or disappointed by the pain" as often I'll be thinking, 'that's nice, pain is at a low volume today', then get up or twist or cross some invisible line and there will be a shooting jab of pain that I recoil at. I can't help being disappointed when this happens. But on the other hand, sometimes I have found the pain to be strangely comforting. I can't work out whether it's because it's so low it's on that borderline between pleasure and pain, or whether my mind is being really strong at that point. To give myself some credit, though, I've done well in letting a lot of pain in and sitting with it (both literally and metaphorically) and not scrambling for pain killers like I used to.

    10. I will shift my attention from the pain to the emotions.
    I think this one I have the biggest difficulty in understanding. This is because my back pain is primarily associated with any type of sitting and I must sit to earn my crust. There hasn't been one day where I've had no pain from sitting since starting this course, let alone any I can remember over the last 25 years. So when I sit it's usually 3 to 15 minutes before the pain sets in. It's like clockwork. It seems strange that, for all the different circumstances and thinking and situations that lead to the sitting, there are distinct emotions being repressed three or 15 minutes in from sitting down. Couldn't it be possible I'm not repressing any emotions at any given time? I might sit down, feel the pain shortly and then ask myself, what am I feeling right now and I can't answer it. I'm not thinking anything negative in particular, I'm not in any stressful situation. Surely there are moments in your life that are bland and unimportant that are not associated with any particular emotions? Or should I be looking at this in another way: that there are generally repressed emotions that I haven't resolved which aren't necessarily related to the situation in which I am sitting, that my id has just seen an opportunity to let them out. Or what about this: if you repress emotions, are they being felt (or unfelt) at all times while they remain unresolved?

    11. I intend to be in control, not my sub-conscious mind.
    I'm pretty much with this one, but I wonder whether rather than standing up to your unconscious you make peace with it. Otherwise it sounds like a fight. Or maybe it's not about the fight at all - it's just signalling your intentions to take control of your pain by acknowledging its source.

    12. I must think psychological at all times, not physical.
    Yep, with you, Dr S. Easier said than done. The hard part is when you think psychological (usually in the form of a question) and you're unable to come up with an answer. And you're left with the physical reminder in the pain. But then I tell myself, see Reminders 1 to 11.

    As always, thanks for reading and congratulations making it this far ;-)
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
    Frebel, dsihaya, Helenlouise and 3 others like this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    HI, if 6 was 9. Your thoughts on each of the 12 Daily Reminders are excellent. You're doing good to reflect on them each day, but I hope you are also journaling to discover any repressed emotions. I wouldn't spend much time feeling the repressed emotions... Dr. Sarno says it's good enough for you to discover them, then the subconscious is satisfied and stops sending the pain.
    If 6 was 9 likes this.
  3. HattieNC

    HattieNC Well known member

    Very interesting to read your observations and responses to the 12 daily reminders. A few sentences really struck a chord with me.

    "But there's the rub - if anger gets out so easily (as my poor family could tell you) what is the anger I'm repressing? Is the anger that I let out just the tip of the iceberg? Outside of my family I'm known as easy-going and affable."

    My husband is one of the angriest people I've ever known. The slightest thing can set him off. He also has a severe case of TMS that he is in denial about. However, no one outside the immediate family knows anything about his anger issues, not even his closest friends. I'm sure his friends and co-workers would think I'm exaggerating or crazy if I told them about the immature temper tantrums I witness on an almost daily basis. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this over the 20 year span of our marriage (which by the way, has come close to divorce many times over his anger) and my guess is that he both represses and suppresses his rage around others because it is socially unacceptable. He then releases with family where he feels loved and accepted. I know that he often feels guilt and expresses remorse over his behavior, and calls it a "personality flaw." Is it possible you could be doing the same thing?

    My pain is also much worse while sitting- so I can relate. My job is computer based, so I sit A LOT. It started out of the blue a little over two years ago. It's absurd to me that something as innocuous as sitting could almost destroy my life, but it has. I'm working the SEP, journaling, and reading about TMS while trying to make sense of this unexpected detour into the world of chronic pain. I hope we both find the answers and relief we are looking for!
    Lavender and If 6 was 9 like this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    How you deal with your husband's anger may be the secret in your healing. But it's a tough one. My stepfather was like that... always angry and taking it out on my mother and us grown kids.
    Malfa likes this.
  5. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    Hi HattieNC,
    Yes I think you're right. Even as I was writing it I thought what's not to get? There's some obvious repression right there when I point out the difference between my home devil, street angel personas.

    I think I may have overblown the extent of my anger - it may sound like I'm abusive but it's more that I'm deeply sensitive to other people's behaviour and sometimes mistake self-preoccupation for hostility. I'm ashamed to admit I'm very critical as well, but it's a double edged sword and I direct that criticism at myself. I also hate being told what to do and often feel like I'm not respected. I'm trying REALLY hard to not be like all that, and spend a lot of time apologising. Going into couples counseling has helped. I learned that contrary to what I thought of myself, I hate confrontation and tend to withdraw and shut down once I've elicited emotion in the other person, mainly because I fear emotions. My counselor was the first person to point out to me that I'm a very emotional person - I'd always thought the opposite. Maybe your husband is too, without realizing?

    Have you asked your husband what he thinks is causing his anger (when he's calm, of course, not when he's in the process of it)? I know from my experience that at the root of it is a sense of rejection, fear and loneliness. But it's not something that's intuitive, you have to keep asking 'but why are you feeling that, or what does that mean if I say/do this'.

    Good luck with your battle with the chair - if you have any insights, I'd love to hear them.
  6. HattieNC

    HattieNC Well known member

    Hey if 6 was 9,
    Thank you for your insightful reply. I'm quite sure that my husband would say that his anger is not abusive either. But, when you are subjected to someone's hissy fit (remember, I'm from the south) even when it's not directed entirely at you, it FEELS like abuse. For instance, when he is going off because the dishwasher isn't loaded to his standards of perfection, and he knows perfectly well that I am the one that loaded it, it feels like his anger is exploding on me. It feels personal. Or, when we are riding in the car and he has road rage at another driver. They don't hear the anger and cursing....I do. That being said, I'm a very laid back sensitive person that grew up with a mellow father. So, explosive anger from a male terrifies me.
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