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Day 13 Glimpse of painlessness, then lots of pain, but I'll take the win

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by If 6 was 9, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    Although it says Day 13 it really should be about day 20 something - I've had lots of interruptions....

    But I wanted to report how I got a glimpse of how challenging the pain can make it disappear. Which is really important to me because I need evidence that I'm on the right track, as being the devout god-fearing atheist that I am, faith has never really come easily to me.

    But anyway, back to this glimpse. On Day 12 (which I did about five days ago) we were instructed to read an article by Monte Hueftle called Three Strategies for Thinking Clean. I read it at the train station on my way to work. I thought it was interesting, but doubted it would work with me - I've always been a bit suspicious about repeating mantras and aphorisms and positive thinking as nothing more than New Age mumbo jumbo.

    Anyway, within minutes of sitting in my chair at work, the back and leg pain came on big time. Actually it had been bad all weekend, but now it was worse. I just gritted my teeth and sat through it, but it wasn't fun (though when is pain fun?) After about half an hour or so I got up to fill my water bottle. I could barely walk properly, every step was half my usual stride length. I looked and felt like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz in need of a good oiling.

    As I got closer to the water tap, I remembered one of the three statements Monte suggested and I tried to really relax as I said it. "Wouldn't it be good if my body was open and free."

    Surprisingly, the pain in my back pretty much vanished within about 10 seconds and I felt that I could walk normally on the way back. I thought more about the words - even now, I'm not even sure I understand what they mean. So I kept repeating them if I felt the pain return, they worked for a time, but the more I kept repeating them, the less effective they became. In the end, it stopped working.

    But I didn't mind, because it was a sign! I think what happened is I had unwittingly ambushed my unconscious. It still doesn't worry me so much that the pain came back. In fact, it returned stronger the next day, then became so unbearable that I took ibuprofen-codeine painkillers for the next two days at work. (I felt bad about this at the time, but I'm not so troubled about it now, sometimes it's counterproductive to be in extreme pain).

    Then yesterday before I went in I read Day 13's reading, the article by journalist Jonah Lehrer, called The Psychology of Chronic Back Pain. It's a long read, but I found it a really interesting article. I didn't have the eureka moment of painlessness of Day 12, but I managed to get through the nightshift without taking pain killers.

    The article talks about how some people still feel the intensity of pain, but somehow the brain detaches itself from it and prevents all the negative emotions that go with it. It's these emotions that make it worse. As I've suffered depression on and off for the past 25 years, I've given this pain all the right conditions to go ahead and make itself a comfortable home to live in.

    So to anyone still having doubts, myself included, these little glimpses are invaluable and I think they're not anything that can be forced. It seems to me that, like the Spanish Inquisition in Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, the most powerful weapon against your unconscious and therefore pain is the dastardly element of surprise. And paradoxically you (or I) may not even be aware that we're wielding this weapon.

    Hmm, it sounds like it's an unconscious fight against the unconscious. That's really doing my head in to think about, so I might leave it there.
    Lavender and JanAtheCPA like this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I wish we could track how many times our members perfectly illustrate their perfectionist tendencies by apologizing for not doing the SEP perfectly. :hilarious:

    This is the third post I'm making today about countering the negative messages in our brains - I guess it's a favorite topic.

    Monte's affirmations are really effective for a lot of people, and I know he's on to something, but in the end what worked for me was really getting in touch with the actual messages that my brain was giving me as I was being dragged down into some symptom or other - which in the past ran the gamut: multiple sources of pain, neuro/nerve stuff, digestive upset, anxiety, and depression. I still use this technique for a few symptoms that still crop up now and then. The technique is deceptively simple: after consciously hearing the negative message, I counter it with a positive true statement, something that I can relate to.

    I say that it's deceptively simple because it is so easy to describe in a few words. The hard part of course is breaking down your primitive brain's barriers against doing both of these things - consciously hearing the negative, and being willing to fight back by providing a constructive alternative.

    The counter-message that I still use regularly (and which still works, because it's MINE) is "There's nothing wrong with me! Whatever this is, it's TMS, and it is NOT necessary". Combined with deep breaths, a few moments of mindfulness, and getting in touch with what might have set me off, I can then continue with my activity or whatever, and the symptom will usually disappear without another thought. If it persists, then maybe I need to sit down and do some writing in addition to some more relaxation and mindfulness as well as the self-talk.

    I actually believe that doing this work is all about managing your unconscious by becoming conscious.
    Ellen likes this.
  3. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    Thanks JanAtheCPA, that's interesting.

    So you're saying beating TMS is more a conscious process.

    What are the types of messages your brain gives you? My pain tends to be most extreme at work, so I use that as a clue that there's something going on triggered by work. BTW, in my case it isn't that there's too much pressure, or that I've got a boss who makes my life miserable, or I'm not doing my job well - all the typical stuff that makes for negative work experiences. It's more a general belief that I've underachieved. And there are probably unconscious thought processes that go with this that I haven't unpacked. Are those the messages I should be looking for?

    The alternative is nowhere else do I sit in a chair for 8 hours straight, so the TMS that associates pain with sitting, naturally gives me the most pain where I am doing the most provocative activities.

    Or so my self-doubt seems to suggest. (Doubt is such a bully!)
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    The messages actually have very little to do with reality or the outside world - they are the messages that our primitive brains create to keep us on our toes, always looking out for danger - they are designed to keep us focused on our symptoms so that we remain distracted by them.

    For me, they are a mashup, like stream of consciousness stuff, all of it negative, and mostly along the lines of "uh oh, I'm feeling (whatever symptom it is), oh no, what if I'm up all night, what if there's something wrong, what if I don't feel good enough to go out tomorrow, what if it was something I ate, what if it was something I did, what if it gets worse, oh no if it gets worse should i call the doctor, what if I have to cancel my commitments, what if it's something new, what if it's a sign, what if what if what if oh no oh no oh no.............!!!!!"

    If you haven't heard yourself doing that, then you haven't really learned how to listen :D
    Ellen likes this.
  5. If 6 was 9

    If 6 was 9 Peer Supporter

    No, I've heard plenty of messages like that. A lot of the time they're not even in words.

    Thanks for clarifying!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    heh, I was being a little flippant with that last remark - but I was also writing it for anyone reading this thread - you brought up good questions!
  7. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, if 6 was 9. Jan gave you great advice and encouragement. I agree with her and would like to add that positive mantras helped me a lot. I can see that yours did, too. It's part of "living in the present" and thinking positive. It's also part of the "Law of Attraction..." telling yourself you already are healed. There are some good videos on that in Youtube.

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