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Fear and belief

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Soph1802, Jul 10, 2023.

  1. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    Hi all,

    I just read a post from Alan Gordon talking about asking questions we already know the answer to and I think that these are both those but, here goes anyway:

    1) re fear, everyone talks about moving through it, ignoring it, talking back etc, but what if all of these techniques are keeping you stuck in fear because they mean you’re avoiding feeling fear? I think I need to start accepting my fear, feeling it and allowing it as well as choosing not to believe it. I think I’m using the techniques to avoid fear, as opposed to feeling it first then using the techniques to soothe it. Would this sound correct?

    2) re belief/getting back to life, I don’t think I can get to the point where I do everything as normal and don’t even think of my symptoms yet because they’re heart symptoms which are so prominent, they physically stop me doing certain things. I’m not ready and it doesn’t feel sensible. However, I think to portray safety, rather than just powering through them (which is making fear worse and not working), I need to allow it all to be there without resisting or pushing through. Acceptance = safety, is that true? Then, in theory, over time the symptoms settle and I can do more and more, continuing to accept however it goes. Because acceptance suggests whichever is way this goes, I’m going to be OK. Am I onto something here? I feel like this is what Alan Gordon’s somatic tracking is getting at.

    At the moment I am just pushing and pressuring myself to not feel fear, not stop, not sit down etc because that proves I am OK and that is what heals TMS but I think I’m wrong. It isn’t working, I’ve been doing it for years. I think I’m just using it as a way avoiding how scared, defeated and frustrated I really am. And the truth is that I do feel fear, I’m actually terrified sometimes, and I do need to go gentler. My body can’t keep up. It’s tired. I’ve been pushing it for years. I need stop and listen to what I feel and need and allow it all, accept it and welcome it, but also not believe it. As long as I don’t believe it, I’m safe. Is that right?

    To anyone who can add clarity and take the time to reply - thank you so so much.
    Ellen likes this.
  2. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    I get where you are coming from. You are stuck in the fear pain cycle or loop.

    I don’t know your story, but I’ll ask, what tms “work” and reading have you done? Or done recently.

    I think over time (for me it can be just weeks), we can get caught up again if we aren’t actively doing the self-care needed. You mention reading Alan Gordon’s social media post: have you read his book “The Way Out” or done his free program in this website? He answers your questions several times in his book with helpful examples, and I think it might help.
    In your post you mention recurrent negative emotions and feelings: fear, frustration, defeat. These are heavy, especially if constant. What do you do to distance yourself from these feelings, or to even allow and feel other emotions? Are you able to do relaxing self-care, enjoyable activities? Feel positive emotions?
    I too am working on these things, trying to manage pretty severe symptoms and find a way to participate in “life” and get the chance to feel the good stuff!

    I think you are very insightful, and know exactly where you stand - you seem to know what you need to do. At times we just need to learn how to “get out of our own way” - especially if we realize that way is harsh and negative.
    Soph1802 likes this.
  3. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    Hi @Cactusflower, thanks so much for the response.

    honestly, I’ve been doing this for 3 years and have read everything there is to read! I think I’ve fallen into the trap of trying too hard. And I’ve read so much I have too many different directions going through my head at once.
    Similarly, in terms of what I’m doing, I do generally live quite well and am a lot better than I was. I just haven’t ever truly committed to managing the thoughts, I just get caught up in them so easily and end up in such a cycle. I’ve done all sorts of mindfulness and meditation but I just fall straight back into it once I stop. It’s really exhausting. The emotions are heavy, as you say, and I think my problem is that I’m entertaining them, talking back to them, trying to rationalise out of them or catastrophising all the time. I just don’t think I can go from zero to hero and just not fear things at all all of a sudden because I am afraid of it, and that is the truth. I think I need to stop fearing the fear, before I can stop fearing the symptoms. If that makes any sense!
    Your point about getting out of my own way has hit the nail on the head - my therapist says this all the time. I just find it impossibly hard! Every time I remove a layer that is holding me back, I seem to find 10 others. I think the constant whack a mole approach I’m taking is problematic. I need a new approach, which needs to be to just surrender to all an everything I’m experiencing and let it all be, I’m just not really sure how that looks in practice, if that makes sense, without it having the opposite effect of just giving into the symptoms.

    Sorry to hear you’re dealing with a lot too - it’s so tough, and this work is so courageous and exhausting. Thanks so much for taking the time to support others when you have so much going on yourself
  4. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Why stop the meditation? Were you using it to “treat” pain or trying to deal with the “other” stuff?
    I meditate for the anxiety. So far it hasn’t helped much so I am trying EMDR because my anxiety isn’t just about pain.
    I no longer read tms books unless I pull one out to rehash something. Then I just confirm, remind myself the “confusion” is my tms brain trying to either a) distract or b) fix (see a…)
    You are right, for some of us “not doing” seems like “failure”. I’d explore that, and maybe journal about it. Perhaps you need to pick up some tms practices to do at times. Journal a few days s week, do a bit of meditation. You’ve come a long way! That’s amazing! Maybe you need a celebratory dinner, glass of wine or something that feels like a real way to congratulate yourself!!
    Soph1802 likes this.
  5. rainyday412

    rainyday412 Newcomer

    I find the fear the toughest part too. There are a few things from Buglio and Gordon that have helped me…to have the attitude of not giving a shit. There is an audio clip where Gordon is talking to a lady with wrist pain, and he is yelling at her to stop giving a shit about the pain…and then her pain stops. Or the advice of Buglio, telling the pain to give u more of it…. Those things stick out to me.
    Soph1802 likes this.
  6. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Another member (and sorry, I can’t find the post fight now) had a great post recently, here’s a quote I saved. I think it might help. This is exactly what I try and do, but I miss a lot of opportunities to practice it.
    “When you think “your life is over” and you feel upset you need to notice that and sit with that feeling of upsetness for a few minutes instead of hating it and invalidating it, which causes further inner turmoil. Validating your feelings and welcoming them is a healthier path and when you start doing so you achieve more clarity and with more clarity you can decide what to do to relax your mind and body.”
    Soph1802 likes this.
  7. Tomi

    Tomi Peer Supporter

    I feel so much of what you feel, having been doing this for over 4 years.... It's difficult to continue believing and not falling into negativity after all this time, but I continue as best I can. Some days are better than others. Like you I have read all the books and tried so many things that I feel I have too many things in the so called "toolbox" (some of them contradictory advice) and not sure what to use when. I heard very good advice on a mind-body podcast one time which suggested choosing just a few things and doing them as consistently as possible and not trying too many things. I keep having to remind myself of that.
    As regards feeling your fear, there is a good guided meditation on the Curable app, called "Releasing Fear Meditation". It first lets you feel your fear and then release it. I find it really helpful.
    I think acceptance is really important if you do it in the right way (i.e. not like failure). Kristin Neff's Self-Compassion workbook has some good points about acceptance and self-compassion, which helped me a lot at one point.
    Anyway, wanted to send you some words of solidarity and wish you the best of luck on the way forward.
  8. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi @Soph1802

    I find using the technique of Somatic Tracking for emotions to be helpful. It involves experiencing your emotions without labeling or judging, similar to how it is used for physical symptoms. Just become curious and notice them as sensations in the body without labeling them as "bad" or "unwanted". Just notice where in the body they are felt, and describe them to yourself, e.g. sharp, dull, in my chest, in my stomach, fluttering, fast moving, lingering, etc.

    Here's the link to that section in Alan Gordon's program:

    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/day-10-somatic-tracking-ii-anxiety-strikes-back.16540/ (New Program - Day 10: Somatic Tracking II: Anxiety Strikes Back)
    Soph1802 and Tomi like this.
  9. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi @Soph1802,

    I would suggest to consider inspecting whether you truly believe that the symptoms are psychosomatic. With me I used to think that I did but when I started paying much more attention to what thoughts were popping into my head, I realised that, although 'intellectually' I accepted that my symptoms (in my case mainly muscle pain, muscle spasms and stiffness) are TMS, some of my thoughts indicated that what I truly believed underneath it all (what my brain was still telling me) was that there was something physically wrong and incurable going on with my muscles at a cellular level, with the mitochondria or whatever. (This was even though at a surface 'intellectual' level I had accepted that my brain was depriving my muscles and tendons of some oxygen and giving me pain). Believing, underneath it all, that there was something terribly wrong with my muscles was fear-making.

    Someone on these forums took the trouble to suggest to me that the above may be the case as to why my progress has been very slow and it pissed me off and made me want to "shoot the messenger"... being pissed off though was actually something that pointed to the problem (or to at least a major part of my problem).

    Also, I think that doing a lot of TMS work can be such a pressure and therefore in itself anger making. So, I've chosen to do just a couple of things that I've noticed do make a difference to me, which tie in with Sarno's advice to notice the rage/anger and move the body, despite the presence of pain or other symptoms...

    I observe my thoughts (letting them go - not running with them - but taking notice of and recognising what's getting on my nerves and angering me) which I believe to be crucial to my recovery and is helping me a great deal...

    And, other than that, what I'm finding to be equally important to me, is to get out of my head space and do some expressive free movement, within my current capability (which is gradually becoming greater as time goes by, but I don't monitor it because recovery, as so many success stories attest to, is usually non-linear, with a lot of ups and downs). I do this movement, even if it's only for just a few minutes or so a day, in the privacy of my own home and I'm finding that it releases bodily tension, undoubtably caused by rage/anger, and relaxes me and is therefore pleasurable, despite any muscle pain etc., experienced.

    I've just treated myself to a couple of books, that are not necessary, but I just got them to further inspire me and help me to incorporate more movement in my daily life, i.e. Heal Through Dance: A Guidebook for Creating Somatic Movement Practices by Arielle Star Triana and Movement Snacks: A Creative How To Guide for Inviting More Movement Into Your Daily Life by Trisha Durham. I do non-linear movement, as shown in the video below, but I do mine on my hands and knees on my bed's thick memory foam mattress (of note is that instead of doing non-linear movement on hands and knees it can be done lying down or sitting, the important thing is to just move how you feel you want to move at the time and to let your mind think what it wants to think but to let the thoughts go and not follow/run with them).

    The first few times I did non-linear movement I couldn't stop yawning during the session, which I'm told indicates the somatic release of tension. It was like a pressure cooker releasing steam, and the more 'steam' I release the less fearful, the happier and less angry and irritated with the usual mundane rage-inducing things of life I am generally feeling. (The main proponent of non-linear movement as a method is Michaela Boehm who runs online course etc., but I haven't bothered with all that as it costs money that I haven't got. There are some free videos on her website though, but essentially it seems to me that the little introduction video below shows how simple it is to do.)

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2023
    Soph1802 likes this.
  10. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    @BloodMoon’s approach is called “graded exposure” by some TMS folks, and I also try and employ it. It can be a challenge: so many rabbit holes, and I think what you choose to do for movement depends on your likes and what “works”. I am not good at outright physical exercise challenges: just go for a run. I’ve never been a runner.
    Like Blood Moon, I’m more interested in dancing or desiring more “free” movement because my body is locked up. I have a bubble want, and a few times a day I go into my yard and wave my wand stretching or going low. I try and get my bubbles over the fence, stop and watch them float. I have also tried the simplest QiGong- and I enjoy this one. I just do what I can on any given day.
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  11. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love the sound of that - what a great idea... free movement, meditative and fun!

    I sometimes do something similar in my living room and that is to gently to moderately bat about (with my hands and arms) a party balloon, which is surprisingly good exercise and always raises my mood.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2023
    Soph1802 likes this.
  12. anacoluthon33

    anacoluthon33 New Member

    Fear knocked on the door.

    Faith answered.

    There was no one there.
    rainyday412 and miffybunny like this.
  13. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    Thanks so much, I think this is really helpful and definitely something for me to work on. It’s the pausing I need to more of - I rush past things so quickly I don’t give them the time and attention they need to resolve!
  14. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    Oh wow, thank you so much for this! I really feel like you get it and we’re clearly in the same place - it’s nice to hear someone validate all this. Sending love to you.
    That curable meditation sounds really helpful, I’ll have to give it a try. I’ve read some Kristen Neff too but maybe I do need to revisit it. I’ve been trying to tell myself the same thing about distilling it all down and ignoring everything else - I think I have just given up a bit atm just because it’s all been so intense. I need to get the balance right again. We’ve got this and we will be Ok, it’s just something that takes time and we have to find our own way there. Sending you love and best wishes and if you need support you know where I am
  15. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    @BloodMoon and @Cactusflower thank you both so much for all this advice it’s really helpful. There is a lot to take in but I’ve been thinking for a while about something like QiGong so this sounds like a good thing to try.

    I will definitely explore the idea that I don’t believe it’s psychosomatic. I think I do believe it, but my fear doesn’t. If that makes sense. I’m afraid it isn’t, but I think mostly, I’m afraid that I won’t recover, not because it isn’t possible, but because I’m finding it hard to do the work needed. It’s a self belief thing I think. I feel very defeated. I have days where I don’t manage to catch a single thought or have a single second of mindfulness and I’m struggling to show up for myself consistently at the moment so that’s where I need to begin.
    BloodMoon likes this.
  16. Bex1111

    Bex1111 New Member

    I have these exact thoughts. I have a routine of writing and meditation but then evert few days I'm hit with fear of symptoms and worry my upset is causing me to back track.
  17. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Soph1802 and @Bex1111

    Do the things but do them with a lightness.
    Of course you are hit with fear of symptoms! “Every few days” is an amazing accomplishment! I have that fear every few seconds!

    A new skill I learned this week, especially handy for over thinkers is to allow a one sentence question and a one word answer to mindfulness check ins.
    “Do I feel safe” or “do I feel loved” the only answers are yes or no. Give yourself a mental hi five for showing up to ask it, move on with

    The work is hard, but the methods can be simplified.
    Soph1802, Tomi and BloodMoon like this.
  18. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    A problem I see is that because we call it 'doing the work' it can make it sound like it's all going to be an uphill, terribly hard and joyless struggle. However, if we can make 'the work' pleasurable and even fun, it won't feel so hard or feel like labour. That's why I'm doing non-linear movement and batting a party balloon about in my living room; such things are a joy, a release of tension and emotions, my body feels relief and better for doing them (I can feel the improvement and these temporary glimpses of improvement are becoming more than mere glimpses, so that's encouraging).

    Even examining what's making your mind/brain rage, inspecting the hurts and anger felt etc., could be viewed in a positive light, as a cathartic process of understanding, release and relief.

    I've just seen what @Cactusflower has posted (above), that is, to "do the things but do them with a lightness", which is essentially what I've been trying to saying in my long-winded way, but she has put the idea so beautifully summed up in a nutshell.

    I hope what she and I have written will encourage you not to give up.

    When you read the success stories on this Wiki it's evident that most people's recoveries are hardly ever linear, they experienced ups and downs. My suggestion is to keep reminding yourself of this and to endeavour to stop your worrisome thoughts from meandering on -- although you can't stop those thoughts from popping into your head, you don't have to 'run' with them, you can say something like "zero tolerance!" when you notice them and then move your attention on to something else, like your breath. Even if you've already been doing this kind of thing, do keep doing it as, if you are anything like me, you will feel far less worried and fearful for doing so.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2023
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  19. rainyday412

    rainyday412 Newcomer

    I am still working through the process, but graded exposure is what’s helping me. As I slowly face my fear, the pain lessons as I feel less fear. I keep increasing the exposure a little bit each day. It’s working, but it’s incredibly hard at first. My heart would beat through my chest scared of the pain, which would cause the pain. Each type of exposure would be extremely short at first. Things are getting easier, and I have even been lowering my meds since I started this about 5 or so weeks ago.
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  20. Tomi

    Tomi Peer Supporter

    I am so happy that you found my message helpful and thank you very much for your love and offer of support! It means a lot.
    I also have periods of not doing much at all, when I'm feeling fed up and demoralised, but then I start again. Because nothing else I have tried has made a difference, but this work does (but not always!), and it's such a roller-coaster that it can drive you crazy. The minimal I do is meditating and breathing exercises, with occasional journaling. (I did a LOT of journaling in the past). I love listening to the occasional long recovery stories to give me hope - Dr Stracks mentioned a patient who got better in 5 years in a "Hope for Healing" podcast. And below is a link to an interview with Fran Sommer Anderson, one of the psychotherapists who used to work with Dr Sarno. It took her 20 years (I think it was 20, or something similar. I haven't listened for a while)! She was helping others while she herself continued to have symptoms. Worth a watch, if you haven't seen it:
    Yes, we will get there!! Be kind to yourself. Sending you love and strength, and you have my support too whenever you need it.
    Soph1802 likes this.

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