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Finding my source of tension

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by grig10, Oct 15, 2015.

  1. grig10

    grig10 Newcomer

    I am recently diagnosed with TMS from one of the doctors recommended on this board. I fit the bill: mid-30's, high pressure job+family responsibilties, and years of migraine, gastro, and sciatica symptoms. Fortunately, I found Sarno about 4 weeks ago. I immediately started the SEP and Gordon programs, and got in to see the doc for the diagnosis.

    The doc thinks the tragic loss of a friend is the source of the recent flare up, which does seem to make sense, but after 4 weeks of journaling, meditation, and returning to physical activity, my symptoms continue to get worse. In fact, I've had 2 instances in 4 weeks where I was working out in the gym (returning to physical activity, right?), and my back "popped" following complete spasm and excruciating pain. I've also developed pain in my calf and foot for the first time ever in these 4 weeks. Same leg as the sciatica, but it seems like the pain is growing southward.

    I will admit that I have had a lot of fear about re-injury. Prior to Sarno, I was doing extensive yoga and core strengthening exercises focused on keeping my back strong. Perhaps slightly obsessive over it. Since reading Sarno, I've ceased all of that and now just do a regular workout routine along with walking and occasional biking. Regularly working out in the gym is my desired fitness goal and that's how I'd measure success of my treatment. Today I can barely do 2 or 3 exercises before the overwhelming pain and stiffness prevents me from continuing.

    The pain not only prevents me from working out the way I'd like, but I can't really play with my kids, and it's hard for me to really help out as much around the house. I feel like I am in pretty bad shape, but I usually just push through the pain and do the best I can.

    Since I am working the SEP and Gordon programs, I have journaled about my childhood, other current stressors, personality traits, etc, and I do find it helpful, but I am wondering if I am missing something. I don't have much from my childhood, as I had a pretty good situation. I am not a perfectionist or goodist as far as I can tell. I am not depressed, I don't think I judge myself, I don't have low self-esteem or self-guilt/hate. Looking at the TMS traits, I would say I am Legalist and Stoic.

    If I had to pinpoint my problem, it is lack of a target. I can't think of much other than the pain. When I meditate, I can make the pain the object of my meditation, and I get instant flare ups of excruciating pain. I return to the breath, and the pain quiets down. If I am working out, I think about the pain because it is so present. I know I'm supposed to "think psychologically", but I haven't found a good target to answer the question of "what is causing my tension?"

    Any tips on how to hone in on my sources of tension?
  2. Ryan

    Ryan Well known member

    Welcome aboard buddy, you are in the right place. I like you have responsibility with family and am early 30's.

    Best advice I can give you is look at how you react to daily life. You are trying to find the magic bullet, of what may be bothering you. The great doctor said this is not needed to heal, understand that your body is reacting from repressed emotions is enough. Start looking at how you treat yourself as well.

    Start putting your focus on others because they are essentially you. Shift awareness away from the body and try not to over think this stuff. Its so common for tmsers to search and gather information. You chase information out of the obesseion because we dont want to let go. Once you gather your information you have to start living it and believing it. Change will come from within you when your ready. It took me a while to piece my puzzle and I am going to write my success story, I have a passion now for tmsers. You are all great people and your body is telling you your out of balance. I'm just trying to give people my experience but everyone is different in the way they heal. We all have a ego and think our way is the correct way , but essentially we all get to the same destination with our own experience.

    Good luck and keep at it , you will make it. Just let the pain come and don't focus on the body. We are what we believe.

    JanAtheCPA and Ellen like this.
  3. grig10

    grig10 Newcomer

    Thanks Ryan. Your words are encouraging and insightful. Can you elaborate on some of what you said? Specifically this:

    I've listened to Alan Gordon's recordings where he helps people treat themselves better, but none of that has resonated with me. I don't feel like I judge myself or have low self-esteem. I was raised in a healthy, encouraging environment as a child with parents who supported me in whatever I wanted to do. Are there other ways to explore how I am treating myself? Maybe I don't realize I'm treating myself poorly?

    Your latter comment on focusing on others because they are me, that is interesting. I haven't heard that before. What do you mean by that?
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Grig, the word that sticks out with me in your post is "stoic." Perhaps that is the root cause of your symptoms. One of my best friends was a stoic
    and it made it hard on him and everyone else. I think being stoic is not being able to admit to yourself that you are not as perfect as you would like to be.
    I'll do a little online research and see what I come up with. More soon.
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    There is a lot on google about stoicism.


    1. 1.
      the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.
      synonyms: patience, forbearance, resignation, fortitude, endurance, acceptance,tolerance, phlegm
      "she accepted her sufferings with remarkable stoicism"
    2. 2.
      an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.
    There is a lot more, if you are interested in pursuing stoicism as a repressed emotion.
  6. grig10

    grig10 Newcomer

    Thank you Walt. I am sure that this is part of my problem, I just don' know how to unpack it. Journaling and meditation seems to have helped me with identifying and communicating about my emotions, and I think its overall benefiting me, but there must be more to it.

    I came upon the description on the wiki here, using the following description:

    The stoic personality trait consists of people who hold in their emotions. They have difficulty opening up to people and expressing their emotions. The idea of speaking about one's emotions and feelings seems awkward to these people. They rarely show anger, sadness, love and sorrow. They hold in their emotions as a way to be in control of their life. People with the stoic trait repress or ignore their emotions. As a result their unconscious mind creates TMS symptoms so they do not have to recognize that they are angry, sad, or even joyful. (Pain Free for Life, 114-116).

    Do you have a stoic personality?

    • Do you find it awkward or difficult to express your emotions?
    • Would you say that you may get a little angry or a little frustrated, but rarely have extreme emotions?
    • Does being in control of your emotions make you feel like you are in control of your life?
    • If people saw you express your emotions, do you think they would think of you negatively?
    • Are you embarrassed to cry in front of your friends and family?
  7. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi grig10,

    Ryan's advice is great, and I see it resonates with you, begins to attract your attention, the part about how you treat yourself. When Sarno studied his cases, he found the personality traits, the moment-to-moment ways we relate to ourselves was the greatest factor in creating symptoms. More than life history or current stressors.

    My understanding is that regardless of self-esteem issues or how well you are raised, there is in the core of all personalities self rejection. This habitual inner non-attunement creates rage, sadness, etc. As to how to explore it, I recommend Byron Brown's book Soul Without Shame. Read this, and you will begin to increase awareness of the insidious self-rejection that operates in everyone's life. This may begin to give you the evidence that you need to connect symptoms to inner activity. There are ways to work with this that many people teach, including me, but the bottom line in Sarno's work is to simply be aware of the activity, which you (and many others) are not. Once you are aware of this, you have all the evidence you need to understand the source of symptoms!


    Good luck!

    Andy B.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  8. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Whew, Andy is on a roll today! This is key, but I haven't been able to describe it so succinctly.

    Grig, I also came from a normal, loving, secure, and supportive family, and I thought that my only source of rage was about getting older and facing mortality. But as I continued to do the work here, I finally got in touch with my 4-5-year old self, and I was astonished to find an awkward, lonely, anxious, and solitary little girl. She astonished me, and yet I knew in my heart that she was me - the fairly self-sufficient oldest of four children, which means that my parents had to split their attention, when the one thing that every little child wants is the unwavering attention of their parents, especially their mothers. Not getting that attention causes the child to feel abandoned, and it causes rage.

    Acknowledging that little girl, accepting her, and comforting her in place of my mother, did something that's hard for me to describe - it was like something inside me softened for the first time ever. It was a real turning point.
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Growing up, my father gave special attention and love to my sister ( a year older than I) and left out older brother and me to wonder if he loved us.
    An uncle said he sure did love all three of us, but I wish he'd have showed it with an occasional hug. My parents both worked so Mom didn't have much time to spend showing she loved us. Her sister, my Aunt Mary, gave us kids lots of attention and love. I realized there is definitely a place for aunts and uncles.

    I encourage any parents out there on the wiki to hug your child and tell him or her you love them. It will do wonders for them, and probably for you, too.
  10. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    This in itself is a wonderful thing, regardless of how symptoms respond. This softening toward self does not occur, I think, until we get in touch with the suffering of this "unloved" child. Then compassion can arise and will arise. We are creatures of love and attunement... So, Grig, to be curious about how you treat yourself is a life-long, valuable inquiry!! Good luck.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  11. Ryan

    Ryan Well known member

    Andy gave you great advice on loving and have compassion for yourself. We as tmsers are never satisfied and push our selves over the limit. Its hard to do nothing and not try so hard, but its crucial in healing.

    As stevo said part of healing is becoming whole. I think he classified it as transcordify. We are all connected as human beings and at the core we are the same. We are just altered by our experience and our perception (ego). We are put here to help each other along our journeys. Everyone has problems its part of life, its how we react to them that's the difference. Everyone learns at there own pace and when the student is ready the teacher will appear.

    Keep at it and ask questions. Then step out into the unknown and have courage to set yourself free.

  12. grig10

    grig10 Newcomer

    Thanks everyone for the continued guidance. I am learning a lot, and I appreciate the help.

    I just picked up Unlearn Your Pain and although the concepts are not new, the different ways of describing the underlying issues and the unique case studies have helped better understand my sources of tension. My pain continues to be severe, but it is moving around on me, so I feel like I've got it on the run.
  13. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, grig. When pain moves around our body it means the subconscious still wants you to discover the emotional causes of the pain. It means you are definitely getting better. Keep positive, that you have the pain on the run. Try not to think about the pain. Just accept it and find ways to enjoy your life.

    Laugh as often and as much as you can. I found some great videos on Youtube with people laughing. It can get you started. Just type in "laughing" or "laughter." It is really healing.

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