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How we have our TMS is why we have our TMS

Discussion in 'Mindbody Video Library' started by Forest, May 28, 2013.

  1. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a quote from a recent interview I did with TMS therapist, Andrew Miller, MFTI. In the interview Andrew talked about his own recovery from chronic pain, and what he did to get better, along with providing some great advice that will help others in their journey as well. It was a pleasure to speak with him, and have the opportunity to share it with you all.

    If you have a moment, check it out.

    SunnyinFL, North Star and Rinkey like this.
  2. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    Forest, thank you so much for doing this interview and posting it. I watched it last week when you posted it to Facebook, and one of my favorite things that he says is that (I hope I have this right) TMS will be with you as long as it needs to be with you. Which I suppose is another way of saying, everything is happening as it should. Trying to "force" your symptoms to leave is only going to make them stay, I guess. I also liked his attitude that you should take what you need and leave the rest (in terms of treatment). Really one of the most helpful interviews about TMS that I've seen.
  3. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. You are totally right about the danger of trying to force your symptoms to go away. I have always felt that strategy is based too much on thinking physical, i.e. I need to do something about my symptoms. The goal of TMS is to realize that you do not need to do anything about your symptoms. They are benign. You need to address the reasons you repress emotions, and learn to accept the emotions you have.
    plum and Rinkey like this.
  4. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I watched this last night. I thought I would just catch a bit of it but was compelled to watch the whole interview. There are lots of great take-aways. I like the discussion at the end about change and how we mustn't assume or expect that by making changes it will automatically relieve our symptoms. I needed to hear this as I embark on a shift in my career. I also like the part about journalling when Andrew talks about how some people expect their symptoms to disappear once they have released their emotions onto the page. I had some sessions with a therapist who tried to encourage me to journal. I did a bit but I am such a stubborn procrastinator. What I was hearing was that if I journaled at night before bed, I wouldn't wake up with as much pain. That may not have been what this person had said or intimated, but that's what I heard. I felt guilty for not doing enough journaling and if I was in pain it was my own darn fault. I'm glad Andrew made a point of saying that we can journal if you want to but don't have any major expectations about it being a cure-all. Thank you, Forest and Andrew!
    Forest likes this.
  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Recovering is more about learning to accept and feeling your emotions rather than releasing them. Journaling is great at releasing one's emotions, but if you feel guilty and terrible afterwards then I'm not sure if it is doing any good. A lot of introspection can be gained by journaling, but you still need to find a way to accept the emotions that come up, and, perhaps more importantly, learn that your symptoms are benign.

    The same is true for making changes in our lives. Our symptoms are not entirely due to having a stress job or a specific family situation. Yes, these situations can increase our overall level of stress, but other people go through the same stuff and never have back pain. There is a reason Dr. Sarno said TMS was caused by repressed emotions and not stress. You can reduce work stress, but if you are not learning to accept your emotions and that your symptoms are benign, the pain will probably still persist.
  6. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forest, you're out of the country, but still in touch with us thanks to your many helpful posts.
    I found this one from last May and thought it a good one to repost.

    I got angry today when my boss laid more work on me when I thought he was premature in asking for it.
    But I bit the bullet and did the research he asked for and found that it actually was a good thing to do now.
    It wasn't easy for me to admit that what he asked me to do was worth doing.

    He's still a hard boss to deal with, but I'm learning not to let him drive me into a rage and TMS pain.

    You folks reading probably have your own boss problems. Why are so many bosses so hard to work for?
    I'm thinking they have their own pain from those they have to please. Maybe it's not their boss but their
    wife or sibling or just trying to please themselves, bless the perfectionists!
    Rinkey likes this.
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forest, I enjoyed this interview as well. I'm going to try the technique of writing a letter to my TMS, as this seems like it could be very useful.

    As always, thanks for all you do....
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I learned more from the Andrew Miller interview, too.

    Writing a letter to your TMS can be a lot less stressful than talking to or yelling at it.

    And by not sending it, you save a postage stamp.
    Rinkey likes this.
  9. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have found journaling not just good for releasing emotions, but also for discovering them. As discussed in your interview, I also suffer from alexithymia (difficulty recognizing one's emotions). Before learning about TMS and beginning to practice journaling, I didn't think I was an angry person. I felt Sarno's assertion that repressed rage is the primary emotion behind TMS didn't apply to me, that in my case it must be due to other types of repressed emotions. Through journaling I have now come to understand that I do, indeed, have a great deal of anger, and yes, even rage within me. Recognizing and accepting this has played a huge role in my healing.

    I have followed the debate on this forum about whether or not one must engage in "psycho-archaeology" in order to recover from TMS. For me it appears to be necessary, as much as I dislike it. I did make some dramatic progress initially from psycho-education, but plateaued and felt stuck for awhile. I believe this was due to alexithymia. While I could understand TMS conceptually as due to repressed emotions, to move forward I needed to know specifically what these emotions were and to understand the context of how the repression started. I've been pleasantly surprised at how much journaling has helped with this. It is helping me to actually identify, feel, and accept my emotions in the moment. I hope to eventually be able to stop the journaling as I get better at recognizing my emotions in real time.
    plum and Rinkey like this.
  10. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    I love this quote. I spent so many years in a perfectionistic crusade against my symptoms. I find this really hilarious.
    gailnyc likes this.
  11. Rinkey

    Rinkey Peer Supporter

    Walt- thanks for bumping this up
    Forest and Andrew- great interview thanks so much!
  12. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a superb point. I'm going to make a cup of tea and muse on this because these words essentially nail the whole tms thing.
    Ellen and Rinkey like this.
  13. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I've been thinking lately that it may be useful to amend the TMS rule of "think psychologically, not physically" to "think psychologically, not physically or environmentally".

    I'm still tempted at times to blame my symptoms on external stress, the weather, pollen, pollution, something I ate, something I didn't eat....well, just about anything I can come up with to avoid looking at my emotions.
    tarala, gailnyc, Rinkey and 1 other person like this.
  14. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ellen, that would be me too.
    I'm beginning to think I'm as daft as a brush.
    Rinkey likes this.
  15. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    Me too Ellen. It's really a kind of victim thinking for me. Like there are things out there that can get me without it having anything to do with me. I'm coming to believe it all has to do with me, and how/what I am thinking and feeling.
    Ellen likes this.
  16. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    I'm really not sure how this happened but once I started accepting/allowing my emotions rather than running away from them, my overall anxiety lessened. I really don't understand the connection between emotions and anxiety but it was certainly there for me.

    Also, I can't help but notice than I tend to run away from pain instead of accepting and exploring it. Pain is part of life, both physical and emotional. When we try to deny it, we suffer even more.
    yb44 and tarala like this.
  17. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I've found this to be true also. I'm beginning to understand that anxiety is a form of TMS. Like pain its purpose is to distract us from our underlying emotions by worrying about the future. Once we're willing to feel our emotions in the present, the anxiety dissipates.
    SunnyinFL, tarala and gailnyc like this.
  18. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    For me, anxiety is a whole new ballgame of TMS. I've dealt with it for years and have it pretty much under control.

    What helps for me is putting into perspective whatever makes me anxious.
    It often can be making a mountain out of a molehill or catastrophizing, thinking the worst will happen when it really seldom does. Worrying about the future is one of the worst things. It's just not worth it, but hard not to let it build up.

    Living in the present is the answer, but that's not always so easy to do.

    Dr. Sarno writes about anxiety and TMS quite a bit in Healing Back Pain.

    He says he discusses anger and anxiety together because he thinks they are closely related and are the primary repressed feelings behind TMS.

    "Anxiety is a uniquely human phenomenon," he writes on page 37, "closely related to to fear,
    but much more sophisticated, for it is rooted in a capacity animals do not possess... the ability
    to anticipate.

    "Anxiety arises in response to the perception of danger and is logical unless the perception is illogical, as is often the case. The anxious person tends to anticipate danger, often where there is little or none. This is the nature of the human animal. However, he or she is often not aware of this anxiety, for it is generated in the unconscious out of feelings that are largely unconscious and kept in the unconscious through the well-known mechanism of repression. Because of the unpleasant , embarrassing, often painful nature of these feelings and the anxiety they generate, there is a strong need to keep them out of consciousness, which is the purpose of repression. The purpose of TMS is to assist in the process of repression."

    This all may just be preaching to the choir since those of us who understand TMS know this,
    but it's worth thinking about again.
  19. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is where self-monitoring can come in handy. I have found it difficult at times to notice when my anxiety is getting out of control. However, by recognizing the physical changes in my body that the anxiety causes, I have been able to counter the rise and reduce the anxiety before it becomes uncontrollable. I try to notice when my heart rate increases, I begin to sweat, and I feel more on alert. By noticing the changes our bodies make, we can recognize when we need to think psychologically.

    Pretty much everyone I know who has TMS thought this at the beginning. We are so out of touch with how much rage we can possibly have that we write Sarno off as not applying to us. This is one reason why so many people have difficulty accepting TMS. It requires us to admit that we do have deep-seeded rage at our boss, spouse, children, and friends. For someone who fear abandonment, these emotions are extremely threatening to us.
    Ellen likes this.
  20. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Welcome home, Forest. Good to see your post this morning.

    I know I have anxiety when I get a headache. Like this morning. But it's 96 degrees outside and the highest pollution in 5 years,
    so that probably explains the headache. I took an Advil, something I almost never do, not even an Aspirin, and sat with my eyes closed and just meditated and the headache is going away.

    I also had a phone call from a creditor that gave me anger, so that contributed. I can't pay them until my boss pays me.

    I also had an email from an old college friend who said one of our gang on our college newspaper died. That didn't help, either.

    So the reasons for anxiety can be many. The trick is to breathe deeply, meditate, and know that "this too shall pass."

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