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Experienced TMSers, I need a little clarification, please.

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by LouVes, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. LouVes

    LouVes New Member

    Hi everyone,

    I'm struggling with an idea. I'm following the programme and Alan Gordon's programme and reading one of Dr Sarno's books at the same time. It's all very interesting and informative but today - about day 5 - I'm starting to feel a bit of information overload and can't get my thoughts straight.

    From what I understand: My unconscious is trying to distract me from something by producing pain so that I will concentrate on that and not on the problem at hand. It's not necessarily important to know what the problem is, just that the pain is not structural but created by my mind as a defense mechanism. So, TMS is a charade. It must be ridiculed. So, what to do concretely? Dr Sarno says to "think psychological" and not physical when we feel pain. When we feel pain, we must think of something that's worrying us which sends a message to the brain that we're bypassing the pain because we don't need it to protect us from our fears.

    BUT, this is when it becomes difficult for me to follow...Day 5 of Alan Gordon's programme focuses on changing your brain and breaking the pain cycle. He says, "we want to help give your brain a feeling of safety" and "if your mind has the tendency to gravitate toward fear, the pattern will continue until you do something to change it". The homework he gives is to watch your mind and see if you can catch yourself gravitating towards fear. Then he says "this is the first step in teaching your brain to feel safe."

    So, my question is this: if we're trying to stop the pattern of gravitating towards fear and catastrophising, how are we doing that by "thinking psychologically' and focusing on the scary thoughts like Dr Sarno says to do? How is that making me feel safe? Am I jumping the gun and should I just trust in the process and try not to rush things? Or is there something I'm just not getting?
    And most importantly: I don't know what to do on a daily basis when I feel the pain. Do I just say to my brain, "Nice try, dude, but I know what you're doing," and get on with my day or do I say the same thing and then have a little think about something that's bothering me at the moment?

    This is long, so thank you to anyone who's gotten to the end and is willing to make things a little clearer to me. It's much appreciated.
  2. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sarno says to focus on a source of recurring irritation...finances, a bad relationship,etc..... NOT to focus on something 'scary'.

    ""Do I just say to my brain, "Nice try, dude, but I know what you're doing," and get on with my day or do I say the same thing and then have a little think about something that's bothering me at the moment?""""

    Both!...and if you have the space (meaning you don't have to use your brain for something like using a chainsaw) everytime the symptom takes over your focus FORCEFULLY shift your attention to that recurring source of irritation. I cannot overstate how effective this was in ending the symptoms. That means a money problem, your Mom and her overbearing narcissistic ways, your Partners incompatibility....anything that really bugs. We don't have the time to stop and psychoanalyze ourselves every minute of the day, BUT all of us have 'pet peeves'.... play with one of your pets!
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  3. LouVes

    LouVes New Member

    Hi Baseball65 and thank you for your answer.
    Ok, "scary" wasn't the good word to use here. But, finances (or lack of), or a bad relationship or whatever are all things that don't make me feel safe. So, to skip over the semantics and go to the problem - I don't feel safe thinking about these things. They just make me anxious. So, I still don't really understand what good it does to focus on them. Isn't this just perpetuating the negative thoughts?
    I'm not being purposefully annoying (argumentative, plain thick), I'm just having a bit of trouble getting it.

    However, I WILL definitely try to forcefully shift my attention to any recurring sources of irritation...if it works, I'll do anything at this point.
  4. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Your question LouVes, is a good one and, I think Baseball65 gives good guidance. It is possible to understand or "imagine what might be causing inner tension" such as a regular irritant, or feeling of being trapped by something in your life which might cause rage or overwhelm, without dwelling on this. "Oh, I see where the pain is coming from; it is because I hate my mom sometimes, but also feel I should love her." End of story. Except that as Alan suggests, you can then meet your suffering self in this place and love and soothe yourself. Or, you can go deeply into the feeling of hate, and experience this, and let it go. There is a big difference between exploring a deep feeling, vs feeling anxious about it. And a difference between inquiring into what might be causing inner tension, then subtly feeling Inner Critic activity that these feelings are wrong or need to be fixed. Alan's suggestion to create a sense of safety is a key to de-escalating inner tension. I hope this helps.
  5. LouVes

    LouVes New Member

    It does help, yes! Thank you to both of you. It's much clearer to me now than this morning.
  6. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    Great answers!

    Also, affirmations and visualization can help to increase your sense of confidence and safety, which helps us to face these issues without being overwhelmed with fear. Especially those issues that we DO need to face in our recovery, such as overly stressful jobs, etc.
    BloodMoon likes this.
  7. LouVes

    LouVes New Member

    Thank you for this answer...I'm intrigued. What affirmations? I read your "Back to work" thread and everyone was talking about then and about printing out cards. Can you tell me more, please?
    And congrats for taking the job, being able to take the job and for moving onwards and upwards. I'll be looking for your post about your first day back!
    Free of Fear likes this.
  8. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi LouVes.

    I contributed to that thread - I'm the one who was talking about putting affirmations on cards. I'm not sure (as I haven't read or done them all) but I don't think that affirmations or visualizations are mentioned in Sarno's books or in the Structural Educational Programme or Alan Gordon's Programme. However, they are things that some people have found very helpful as part of their recovery process. For instance, ACE1 successfully used them to rid himself of his TMS symptoms; you can read his story and tips for success here (go into 'success stories' in the following link and then look for ACE1's posting, which is about half way down the page; his point number 10 in particular talks about the affirmations and visualizations he used) http://tmshelp.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7664 (TMSHelp Forum - Recovery story with keys to recovery at the end)...

    At the end of his posting ACE1 also recommends a book about affirmations (called 'Mind Power' by John Kehoe) that you could perhaps consider reading in due course, if using affirmations appeals to you.

    You can also, of course, use your own affirmations and visualizations, e.g. you could tell yourself 'I am safe' (a tip here is to look all around you at the same time as making the affirmations - to show the primitive parts of the brain - that we all have - that you are indeed safe) and you could visualize the muscles in any part of your body relaxing while you (preferably with your eyes closed) say to yourself 'let go, let go, let go' or 'release, release, release'. The relaxation created is usually only felt temporarily at first, but the aim is to make it a habit (just as being tensed up can be a habit - an unconscious habit).
    I'm relatively new to TMS work too (and wrestled with this myself) but I believe that the idea is that, in recognising and/or examining those things that you know are troubling you and making you anxious or whatever, you're telling your brain that you're not scared of those things and that your brain doesn't need to keep suppressing your emotions/feelings about them by giving you something else to worry about, i.e. pain and other symptoms. (For some reason the brain seems to think that we're better off being in sometimes terrible pain than we are in experiencing stuff that it perceives as being dangerous to us.)

    Also, by focusing on troubling issues, say, by journaling about them, you might also discover something about them or in connection with them that you hadn't realised before or had forgotten...and discovering/unearthing and realising those things (that the brain may think are dangerous to you) may (or may not) be part of or key to your recovery from TMS symptoms.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
  9. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    Thank you LouVes!

    BloodMoon covered a lot of it. There's also a book called Mind Power by John Kehoe that was helpful for me (Ace1 mentions it).

    I honestly thought a lot of it was hokey until I started doing it and seeing results. The key for me has been saying it and really believing it, with all of my being. Even if it's "untrue". So as I was hiking more and getting pain spikes, I'd say "I'm free of pain. I feel so good hiking. My back feels so good." not as denial (that would be closer to avoidance and fight-flight response), but really convincing my brain that this activity isn't just safe it's GOOD for me, it's fun, it makes me healthy. I did it today while starting to run again. "I love running, I feel so good when I run, I run as far and as long as I want." I say it over and over, and I have fun with it, really feeling it. It's amazing.
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  10. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Hi Free of Fear, I wish I could do that. Or maybe I could? I to me it feels like not acknowledging the truth. And the truth is that I feel pain. I know, this is how I get stuck in pain. So, maybe I also should try to really overrule my brain with these positive sentences. My impression though is that my brain starts to laugh about me ...
  11. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    I hear you Time2Be. Let me say that I didn't try affirmations until I was already seeing positive recovery results, so I don't know what it's like doing it while feeling stuck.
  12. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    I see. You used them as enforcement. That makes sense to me. I think my sentences need to be more attuned to my situation.
  13. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    John Kehoe writes about this in his book 'Mind Power' about affirmations (the book that ACE1 recommended):

    "You don't have to necessarily believe them!...Don't worry about believing them, just keep repeating. If you do believe what you are affirming, great! If you don't believe it, that's fine too. It doesn't matter. The conscious mind will quite naturally pick up the content of whatever you are affirming, and the correct thoughts will seep into your consciousness. You don't have to force anything."

    And in his book 'What to Say When You Talk to Yourself' Shad Helmstetter says: "The brain simply believes what you tell it most".

    I don't believe ACE1 saw much, if any, signs of recovery until he started to use affirmations, so I think they are likely to be good for starters as well as enforcement (the latter as Free of Fear uses them for).

    I've seen only a little bit of improvement in my symptoms using other mind/body techniques, but by far the most dramatic improvement I've experienced is with affirmations...These positive effects of symptom reduction so far have only been momentary, but I do think that with repetition there is a strong possibility that the brain-body will take them on by way of habit (just like they took on worry and tension as a habit).

    It has to be worth a try imho - as there's nothing to lose and I think a possibility of everything to gain :).
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
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  14. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    That makes a lot of sense!
    BloodMoon likes this.
  15. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Thanks BloodMoon! Makes also sense to me! I will give it a try! You are right, nothing to loose, much to gain.
    BloodMoon likes this.
  16. LouVes

    LouVes New Member

    Thanks everyone, it's very interesting and definitely something I'm going to try and set up this weekend.
  17. MWsunin12

    MWsunin12 Beloved Grand Eagle

    My mind would keep contradicting a direct affirmation like: "My back feels good," with "no, it doesn't."
    I found that putting an affirmation in an active term works for me in accepting it into my subconscious, i.e. "My back is feeling better and better."
    Or, "I am safe to look at my concerns which are changing for the better now."

    Just an additional thought for the discussion. Great posts, everyone.
  18. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Exactly! Marcia, that’s how I would react. Therefore I need to choose affirmations that are realistic and positive. If it is correct that the brain (isn’t that a bit strange to call ‘me’ now ‘‘the brain’?) believes what it hears often, then we could talk us into many things. I will experiment a bit ... great posts, yes Marcia!
  19. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    My brain/mind also rejects 'direct' affirmations like 'I am comfortable,' with 'no, I'm not!', but according to John Kehoe in his book 'Mind Power' and Shad Helmstetter in his book 'What to Say When You Talk to Yourself' that doesn't matter as, with repetition, your brain/mind will eventually stop arguing and contradicting...However, Kehoe and Helmstetter do say that the kind of affirmations that @MWsunin12 is using, e.g. 'My back is feeling better and better' also work (but might possibly work a tad more slowly). I think what's really good about @MWsunin12's way of doing affirmations is that, as it's more 'palatable' (for want of a better word) to the brain/mind (as we don't feel the brain/mind arguing as much, if at all) and it's therefore likely we'll be more inclined to persist in doing affirmations, even if we don't see/feel any or much of a positive (or lasting) response for a while...

    According to Kehoe and Helmstetter what doesn't apparently work are affirmations where you project too much into the future, e.g. 'My back will get better'.

    In Sarno's book 'The Divided Mind' (which I'm reading atm) he says, "We know from experience that the theoretic barrier separating the conscious mind from the unconscious mind, cannot be breached from below...but there is nothing to stop us from intellectually breaching the barrier from above"...which is encouraging in the context of affirmations, I think.

    'Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better...' - Émile Coué :):):)
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
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  20. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Interesting! In which language do you think affirmations work best? English is not my mother tongue. Will it work anyway? Do you authors you quote say something about that?

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