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How do I strike a balance with this?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by PaperCrane, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. PaperCrane

    PaperCrane Peer Supporter

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm new to the forum and to TMS. First off, I appreciate the work people have put into this site and am happy to be getting the chance to learn from all of you.

    As I'm starting to learn about TMS, I'm struggling in some areas and still have a long way to go, but I'm also beginning to feel more hopeful about my future and health than I have in a long time. I've noticed, though, that I'm running into situations at work that are really challenging me.

    I work for a social services agency that serves people with various disabilities and have contact with people who are in chronic pain on a daily basis. (A number of my current clients have some of the same diagnoses I've been given, actually). Just by virtue of what I do for a living, I get pretty involved in my clients' lives and immersed in their struggles, which has always been rewarding, but also draining.

    I find that now that I'm trying to do the whole 'repudiate the structural diagnosis' thing, though, it's moved from rewarding/draining to kind of scary on some level to get emotionally invested with my clients who have chronic pain and feel a sense of dread when someone vents on me. I can't not relate to the place they are in and it brings to the forefront a lot of my own fears about my pain and the possibility that I'll continue to progress to the place they are in.

    On the one hand, I feel that relating to them and being empathetic makes me better at my job, but I also feel an impulse to put walls up. Up until I was injured in an accident and all of my TMS stuff got set into motion, I really couldn't relate to my clients on the level I do now and I value that. (It's sort of a tangent, but I have a condition that makes me have different responses to sensory stimuli than the average person and had a very high threshold for physical pain my entire life, until an accident and an injury sort of discombobulated my wiring or something and I seem to feel pain all to well now). But, I also need to find a way to connect and be empathetic without hurting my progress and fully taking me back to the same scared place they are in.

    I'm hoping that, in time, I'll get on better footing with my TMS work and more confident in the diagnosis, which will make this less and less of an issue, but was wondering if anyone may have some advice or words of wisdom that can help me in the meantime? Thanks!
  2. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi PaperCrane and Welcome to the Peer Network,

    Explaining TMS to people is a challenge for most people. It is always hard to know how people will respond to it. Have you tried simply telling them your own story?
  3. PaperCrane

    PaperCrane Peer Supporter

    Thanks, Forest. I've shared my story with some people, but prior to learning about TMS. I can share a little with them about what I'm doing right now, but it's sort of a delicate situation in that I could potentially get myself into trouble with my employer if I did anything remotely resembling giving out medical advice. In some ways it might be a moot point, though, since I'm fairly confident most people wouldn't be very receptive to the information anyway.

    Reflecting on this a bit more today, I'm wondering if part of my problem might just be that on some level I'm feeling guilty about the new dynamic I've got now with some of my folks. In other words, I've found something that is helping me get to a better place, while they have not.

    It's odd, I've worked with populations I have shared experiences with in the past, some of them kind of traumatic, actually, but nothing has struck a nerve with me like this. It's probably just because I'm now making an effort to acknowledge feelings as they get drudged up, as opposed to just pushing them aside, like I've tended to do for many years, and it's strange new territory. Guess it's something that I'll get better at dealing with in time and maybe I just need to be patient.
  4. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Welcome, PaperCrane!

    I can relate to a lot of what you are saying. I'm a Reiki practitioner and teacher and some of my clients are people who have tried everything else for pain and then try Reiki. Because I am not a medical doctor, I have to refer people to their doctors for illness-related concerns as Reiki is more about spiritual healing and overall wellness. I feel conflicted though because I know the doctors are going to put them through the same useless stuff I have gone through with my own journey. I've told some clients about Dr. Sarno and I've referred a number of them to my TMS doctor which has seemed like a good solution.

    I don't know if this is possible in your job, but for me, when clients start complaining a lot about illness/structural problems but it doesn't feel right to bring up TMS, I at least try to reframe for them that this is not their whole life and help them focus on the good things they are doing for health and relaxation.

    The main thing is you're hear to heal yourself first. I think it's fine to put up boundaries, you have to. I think you can still be an empathetic person and not take on everyone's stuff. It's hard though!

    I changed a lot about my practice as I healed myself from TMS (I'm now almost entirely pain-free). I don't ask people about illness or disease, if they bring it up that's fine but I don't let it drive the conversation. I focus on seeing my work with clients as healing their whole being AND helping me accept myself as well. A therapist/energy-healer friend says that we attract clients who are working on the same issues we are. If we can keep good boundaries I think this can be a tremendous opportunity to heal ourselves as we work with others.

    I'm not sure if any of this translates into your situation but at any rate, WELCOME!

    :) Veronica
  5. PaperCrane

    PaperCrane Peer Supporter

    Actually, that does translate into my situation and is very helpful. Thank-you!
    veronica73 likes this.
  6. Georgie

    Georgie Physiotherapist

    Dear PaperCrane,

    Forest asked me to pop in here and see if I could add anything of value to you, so I will do my best. Firstly I do empathise with you because the situation you are in is not easy and one which a number of my patients have also faced to one extent or another, so you are not alone.

    You say, “I get pretty involved in my clients' lives and immersed in their struggles, which is part of your work and is part of the obviously kind and empathic person you are, but unfortunately can result in problems for you, as you are now finding.

    Much of the mind shift required in this work is about being able to put things into perspective and you are part way there in being able to recognise that. You say you are now able to be more empathic with your clients, although you are finding it hard work. That is definitely something to be grateful for and worth reminding yourself of, but then it’s a matter of learning how to help your clients without becoming ‘immersed’ in their struggles. As you say this can be draining, apart from creating an internal struggle for you due to your own new understanding and beliefs.

    Veronica73’s answer is great, especially with regards to helping you helping your clients with advice that will help them, without having to go into the TMS concept etc. This way they gain additional advice, you don’t antagonise your bosses and you also feel like you are at least doing something.

    Examples of what you could do is;
    • Let them know that studies have shown that fear and anger etc can actually cause pain to become worse, so being able to offload about that can help their pain levels. e.g. by journaling, using a punch bag, running etc
    • Let them know that studies have shown that ruminating can cause pain to become worse too, so again offloading onto paper can help and then not going over and over things. Clearing their head will stop them from ruminating, whether that’s a decision to make or feeling overwhelmed etc, so writing out lists, pros and cons etc can help them gain clarity and therefore can help reduce their pain.
    • Encourage them to find some time for themselves for self-care.
    As Veronica73 says, you do need to have boundaries. I need them in my job or I would be a wreck hearing some of things I do as often as I do! Two simple strategies you can use instantly to prevent you from absorbing your clients’ issues, are to either;
    • Imagine an upside down invisible glass bell covering you from top to toe which is going to reflect any negative energy so you don’t absorb it, or
    • Imagine a flow of energy between you and your client which ebbs and flows between you, allowing a healthy flow of energy rather than it becoming stagnant.
    If all this does is remind you consciously in the moment not to take all their issues on yourself, then it’s worthwhile. Understanding that we all have an energetic aura around us might also help you to see how this could help stop your own positive aura being drained by someone else. (studies have shown our energetic aura and this explains the different ‘feeling’ we have with someone who is upbeat and someone who is depressed.) Using one of these strategies can help you listen empathically, but without becoming so immersed in their problems that you feel drained, which then has an impact on your own health.

    You also say, ‘I've found something that is helping me get to a better place, while they have not.’ However, as you know, you can tell some people all you like and they won’t always accept it, so it’s a matter of just sowing seeds where you can. Also, you have found, as we all have, that once you begin working with this approach, you will be more aware of how you feel, which can be good at times and at times not so good, but in the long run better for us. The 'Letting Go' tool can also be helpful here and you can find out more about this from Patricia Carrington's 'The Power of Letting Go'. Basically recognising you have some resistance, feeling it, ask yourself 'could you let it go?', 'would you let it go?' and then imagine just letting it go. This is very simple, but can be very effective.

    It will get easier PaperCrane and the more you accept the concept the easier it will be for you. Don’t forget how effective the following things can also be in your recovery (because of the feedback effect they have on our brain and as a result, how we feel) – positive self-talk, visualisation, an upright posture, smiling, exercise (however gentle), socialising, being out in the natural environment, time for fun and laughter.

    Good luck. Warm wishes, Georgie :)
    Becca likes this.
  7. PaperCrane

    PaperCrane Peer Supporter

    Thanks, Georgie, for your post. It contains a lot of valuable insights.

    Part of me feels horrible seeing you write that I sound like an "obviously kind and empathetic person," though, because I've recently come to admit to myself that part of my problem in this area seems to stem from me feeling resentful and rather angry at certain clients on some level. It's been a pattern from childhood on that I've needed often to be 'the strong one' and take care of others around me, while dealing with my own problems with very little support or acknowledgment of what I'm going through from anyone else. So, when I feel like I'm extending myself to support clients with similar or fewer challenges (I've got a number of other issues outside TMS), as well as, more often than not, stronger support networks and fewer personal responsibilities, it really does take me back to anger and frustration I felt towards particular family members growing up.

    It's great that learning about TMS is making me so much more aware of what's really going on inside my mind, but I still have a bit further to go when it comes to accepting some of the less flattering truths about myself, I guess.
  8. Georgie

    Georgie Physiotherapist

    Hi PaperCrane. Don't knock yourself - you are completely normal! :) The trouble is that when we have grown up to be empathic, kind etc we struggle to accept that there might be less 'lovely' feelings inside us, which can create this inner turmoil once we begin to recognise how we really feel. The symptoms result from us trying to bottle up these feelings (either consciously or unconsciously), yet as the emotions (and the inner turmoil between how you feel you should be and how you really feel) begin to surface, they trigger the emotional brain which sets the TMS cycle going.

    Unfortunately as we grow up we learn that anger, resentment etc are negative emotions and just not accepted. We equate these emotions with pain - for example the pain that results from significant adults losing their temper etc when you were little, or the response from them when you got angry. The behaviours we learned to cope with these as a child become learned and then often result in the cause of much of the self-induced stress we have. e.g. resulting from hiding how we feel and maybe being non-confrontational, outwardly calm/empathic/kind etc, being passive aggressive which can result in being sarcastic etc

    The way I look at the work I do is to help my patients to learn to live life with less resistance and to be more allowing of themselves (as in this case), the situation and others. This therefore reduces the self-induced stress we all cause ourselves, which creates so much of the 'fuel' for our symptoms.

    So do acknowledge past and currents stresses and then try to put things into perspective (even if this is just that whatever happened, happened and you are now going to move on). The next step is to look at what is causing you continuing pressure and in my experience this is more often a result of our personality traits and our learned behaviours. You might not be able to actually change your personality, but you can absolutely modify how you respond to things once you recognise how this causes you stress.

    So, rest assured, you are normal and I used 'we' earlier on because that's me too and they say 'you teach best what you most need to learn'. These last 6 years have helped me hugely too, both in overcoming numerous recurring health issues and being able to live my life with less resistance, therefore meaning I cope much better with whatever is happening in my own life.

    My suggestion to you would be to understand who you are based on your past experiences. Then acknowledge and let go of the emotional turmoil related to them. Accept that now you are who you are and that you are able to take responsibility for this now. Then openly air (to yourself) any resentment, frustration, guilt (for feeling like this), anger etc through journaling and then using meditation to allow yourself to sit with however you feel and take time our from internal and external stress. (even beating a mattress or a punch bag can be effective here!).

    Be allowing of your own limitations and then learn to be allowing of others and theirs, using the tools you have. It is possible, honestly. :) I hope this has helped.
    Becca likes this.
  9. PaperCrane

    PaperCrane Peer Supporter

    That is incredibly helpful and reassuring, so thank-you again. As a side note, I signed up for the newsletter on your website and got your tips on journaling, which looks like it will be helpful as well!
  10. Georgie

    Georgie Physiotherapist

    Thanks PaperCrane. Although I put useful tips and articles in my newsletters, I can't include everything or people wouldn't bother reading it all. For that reason if you want to keep up to date with helpful articles and blogs etc all related to this work, then you're welcome to 'Like' the SIRPA facebook page. www.facebook.com/SIRPAUK There's a podcast I've just put on from Peter Zafirides MD, another Specialist in the field. In the meantime though, good luck with everything.
    veronica73 likes this.

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