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Finding the right approach

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by doggydave, Sep 3, 2015.

  1. doggydave

    doggydave New Member

    I've come some way with improving my TMS. However, I have just had a really bad flareup. The only emotional triggers I can find are that I did get angry with someone close, and bottle it up for an evening. Then in the early morning, a little thing triggered me off into tears that were more intense than the situation demanded. The following night and day I was really, really sore. More sore than I had been in weeks. I hadn't realised how much progress I had been making until then.

    I have been having trouble delving into my repressed emotions and getting in touch with my rage. There are things I have been angry about dating from recent years back to my childhood, but I'm feeling quite well adjusted about them. In fact, the more I journal, the more I seem to be coming to terms with things. However, I'm not improving that well - unless I am just impatient and its going to take longer than I'm hoping.

    A couple of questions:
    - do I need to get right into the intense feelings of rage, to release them? Is that the idea?
    - also, my crying session seemed to release a lot of emotion, but made things worse. Should the main emotion explore be only rage? Sadness seemed easier to tap into at the time. ( I generally don't find either easy to get in touch with)
  2. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member

    Hi Dave,

    Boy, you really hit the nail on the head with this idea of "Finding the right approach." It is - at once - both the thing that seems to help TMS clients the most and the thing that sets them back the most. Let me unpack that. Every TMS person seems to have different and unique ways to address their TMS with some definite commonalities.

    Some clients find that journaling by free association is a key, or journaling about their day, or a certain type of self-talk that is helpful. It is a bit of a trial by error process. Some things remain constant across client's experience: evidence lists, some form of self-talk, repudiating the symptom by proceeding with activities that the symptoms interfere with.

    That being said, there becomes a law of diminishing returns when these interventions are focused on too much. Clients stop getting the same benefit that they once did. Frustration builds, clients spend countless hours searching and thinking about new ways to attack the TMS and symptoms may actually increase at this time. Becoming beholden to a system of "finding the right approach" then becomes counterproductive and the mental energy expended on the task becomes just another distraction technique from the underlying experience.

    I encourage you do what you think will work with regards to feeling emotions. Clients don't need to feel the intense emotions to get better BUT it almost always helps. It's not necessarily though. Of course, any work with intense emotions, I always recommend be done with a licensed professional. Additionally, it rarely works to push for the experience of emotion, instead we must allow for the experience of emotion. It may seem a subtle idea. If you journal, journal with curiosity about how you feel, if you just write, pushing for emotion you will lose the thread of all it's intricacies of your emotional experience (frustration, annoyance, longing, disappointment) and those threads are like the line leading down to the unconscious. After you do that (really, just set aside a little time each day and no more), push forward with doing what you need and want to do with your life day to day, otherwise you'll obsess for hours on end.
    Finally, yes, when you experience emotions, emotional release, you may feel worse in TMS sxs. It's typically a sign that you're onto something. I think what you'll find is that a lot of TMS practitioners have realized that rage is just one important emotion in TMS. In my work with clients, I have seen grief, sadness, shame and the simplicity of being profoundly hurt as generators of TMS too.

    Best of luck to you on your journey,

  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, doggydave. The flareup probably did come as a result of being angry with someone close.
    I didn't need to dwell on the anger/rage from feelings when my parents divorced when I was seven. I just put myself in their shoes when I

    (A friend came over so I stopped writing this post. I'm back again now.)

    I started to say that putting myself in my parents' shoes helped me to understand why they divorced (money issues back in the 1930s, which many people have today). Understanding them better helped me to heal from severe back pain.
  4. David88

    David88 Well known member

    Hi Dave,

    Great questions. In my recovery, facing the intensity of my feelings has been critical. It's also the most difficult part. I long knew that I was feeling sad and angry. But I couldn't approach the full intensity of those feelings. That's what I was pushing away with the TMS symptoms.

    In my case Andrew is right: I needed a very good therapist to get through my defenses and get me to feel in full. I could never have done it alone. It was a scary process. But it was also powerful. Our scariest feelings are also our greatest source of strength.

    I believe that to fully get over TMS, we need to be in touch with our feelings, all of them, especially the scariest. I am not done with that quest, but I've taken some big steps, and my life is much better because of it.

    SunnyinFL likes this.
  5. David88

    David88 Well known member

    P.S. It's not really about releasing the feelings. You will always have them. It's about getting past being scared of them.

    You're not trying to get rid of the feelings. You're trying to embrace them as a vital part of your life experience. They may seem scary, but really they are your best friends.

    Does that make sense? It's the best I can explain it.
    SunnyinFL and JanAtheCPA like this.
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Dave, when I was doing the SEP I actually found more sadness than rage from childhood - and I was amazed at the sadness, because on the surface, I had an ideal childhood. Indeed, there was lots of positive attention, with no trauma or abuse, but I was a scared child who often felt lonely because I was ashamed of my anxiety - that was probably a result of my parents having no clue what to do about it (and I'm sure my mother transferred her anxiety to me when I was an infant, if not in utero, so I can blame her). I had no clue about any of this until I did the SEP! I did have rage as well, but it was age-related, meaning that I had (still have!) rage at the unfairness of growing old and having the foreknowledge of death.

    I like what David88 says. I also still have those emotions, but I brought them up into the light, let my conscious self look at them and accept them as part of who I am. Not surprisingly, nothing bad happened, so my brain was able to stop repressing them with distracting symptoms. It's really as simple as that.

    This is so important - Thank You Andrew! I would add that part of not pushing is to write with complete honesty. People may be sick of seeing me say this all the time, but in my work, I discovered that my brain would try to prevent me from writing down certain things, with all kinds of excuses. Like "That's not important, don't write THAT down" or "That's too embarrassing, you don't want to look at THAT". Oh, it was SO tempting to agree with those messages! So easy to NOT write something down! When I realized this, I forced myself to write those things down, and when I went back to the list later on to write about the things on it, it was those particular ones that gave me the most insight into who I am and how I got here. None of them was earth-shattering, just very revealing, and in some cases I found really old shames that my brain had been repressing for decades, simply because it thought, in its primitive way, that it was too dangerous for me to feel them.

    Follow Andrew's advice to stop pushing, just let it flow, and be curious enough about what's in there to write down everything that pops into your head, even if your unconscious brain is trying to tell you it's not important.
    SunnyinFL and David88 like this.
  7. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member

    Well said, David! Not being afraid of the feelings is important. Feeling them can be helpful because we can realize that we will not be overwhelmed or obliterated by them. Some people though can get to the experience of accepting them without the experience of feeling them. Much of that has to do with the unique characteristics and psyche of the TMS client and a therapist can help suss that out.
    SunnyinFL, David88 and JanAtheCPA like this.
  8. doggydave

    doggydave New Member

    Thank you everyone for such helpful advice. I think I am concentrating too hard on experiencing the feelings, rather than exploring what lies beneath the surface. I will change the way I journal now to be more of an investigator.

    A good example of how my efforts were on the right track was the elephant in the room while I wrote the original post. There was something that was really worrying me - or should have been - for two days, but I hadn't given it hardly any thought in the whole 48 hours. I wasn't deliberately avoiding the thoughts, but after reading the feedback above, I did notice that I had been missing a certain range of thoughts I should have been experiencing. There's probably a whole range of those thoughts hidden below the surface.

    Thanks again.
    JanAtheCPA and SunnyinFL like this.

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