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I can't get to the anger...

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by MAG, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. MAG

    MAG New Member

    I'm really doing everything I can to find the anger. I get irritated, but the true anger isn't surfacing. I've been at the tms approach for a year now journaling every day and meditating for 10 minutes after I journal and have read several books. I'm trying to feel the emotions and feel everything but anger isn't surfacing. Is it just something that's going to take time as I keep digging? I've improved greatly and a lot of the pain goes away for the most part, but I still have symptoms...
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Do the symptoms get you angry?;)

    I have have some thoughts. One is that maybe you don't need to get to the anger. Maybe just "thinking psychologically" as best you can with the events, stresses, irritations of life, challenges ----and whatever feelings--- is enough and fine. I always suggest gently bringing your attention to your body feeling, without pressure to feel anything in particular or "more." Just attune and attend. I don't mean symptoms, I mean the feeling/emotional sense.

    Struggling to get to more anger may be putting a sort of tension into your mix that you don't need.

    Celebrating your success, and trusting that there's nothing wrong with you may be enough. Not needing your symptoms to improve from here would be a great stance to take on some levels... Takes "fixing" off the table.

    Second thought is that many people need outside help to get to the anger. Just the way it is. Not sure what counseling or support you have gotten for that.

    Finally, remember that anger is not the only "difficult feeling" which Dr. Sarno suggested is rolling around down deep. There might be sadness, fear, longing, loneliness, etc.

    Baseball65 and MAG like this.
  3. MAG

    MAG New Member

    At times, the symptoms do get angry and elevated, but even the symptoms don't come through as very angry. I'd called it more tense and constant at this point. I understand what you are saying about fixing, and I do try too hard at times (and try to back off a bit). I have been working with a therapist since last fall. Not a tms doctor, but she attended Dr. Sarno's lectures and understands a lot about tms. We are working on somatic tracking. When she gets back into the country, we will continue our work. She's not going to be back until October, but she's the only one that knows about tms in my area.

    I am still trying to convince myself that this isn't structural, and although I've improved a ton, I still need convincing. I know this is going to be a slow process as it takes me a long time to trust...the doctors absolutely terrified me.

    There is definitely fear and sadness that I'm dealing with from past to present and that's why I've been journaling every day.

    Thanks Andy!
  4. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    There's always going to be variations in intensity of cases. That coupled with different duration's of conditioning would probably make for a wide variety of cases.

    I was the angriest young man in the world for 20 something years and my TMS came only after I had stopped raging at the world for about 5 or 6 years so It was very easy to see the contrast. Others who maybe didn't have the liberty to act as childishly as I was allowed for so long , might have a tougher time seeing the anger as the cause.

    Then again, some people have had the distraction so long they have a lot more conditioning to work through. I was lucky in that I only had the set of symptoms that brought me to TMS for about a year and a half before I started learning about this deal. Some people have been suffering for decades.

    I am a disciple of "Dig that anger out of there and dance with it" BUT as @Andy Bayliss says, I am not certain that that is necessary for recovery. If it is truly 'Repressed' like Sarno says, the little bit we are digging out is only the 'preconscious' and isn't a fraction of what is really down there. We were just discussing that on another string.

    The shrink that helped me was NOT a TMS doctor and he was extraordinarily helpful. I just told him what I knew, that I needed to dig some of this stuff out if I was gonna' make it, and we got her done. Most of it was stuff that was in place by the time I was 6 or 7. All the ensuing drama and symptomology was just more of the same.

    From time to time over the last two decades, I have had mini relapses. I am usually caught off guard because I am NOT 'angry'. That's when I use the checklist I put in all caps on this post.

    https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/open-letter-to-the-people-not-getting-better-or-to-those-who-want-it-fast.23177/ (Open Letter to the people NOT getting better, or to those who want it FAST)

    That is not my work. That is ripped clean from the 12 step program but it is extraordinarily effective. When I go down that checklist quietly and just scribble a word or two in each catgeory, it is amazing how much stuff is sitting there like low hanging fruit when I am 'NOT' angry (LOL)

    Remember that TMS is like an over evolved coping mechanism. There is no shame in suffering from it. Quite the opposite, the harder it is to dig out, the better of a 'coper' that person was set up to be. I wasn't a great coper, so I didn't have to dig that deep (LOL)

    BloodMoon and MAG like this.
  5. MAG

    MAG New Member

    A lot to take in for sure. I do understand what tms is about and all that I can do. I feel like I'm trying to solve an intricate puzzle with a learning disability though because I can't feel the rage. I do realize that I need to learn tools for coping, and the tms work has really helped me...but I'm just not there yet. I wish I knew how to get down to the subconscious.

    I'd be afraid to go to a regular therapist for tms unless they were very open minded because I get triggered very easily with words which make me feel doubt and fear. I have been dealing with the pain and symptoms for almost three years now (not that I'm counting anymore), but emotionally, I've been dealing with this since my teens. A lot makes sense now. I just wish I found out about tms a long time ago....

    You are lucky you were able to get angry. I don't know who told me not to be angry, but I'm trying to feel those emotions when I'm upset about something; even something small.

    Thanks, Baseball65! :)
    Baseball65 likes this.
  6. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    As I read Sarno, MAG, he regarded repressed anger as the most common cause of TMS, but he also recognized other possible causes, namely conditioning and inability to accept that the cause of the pain isn’t structural. Assuming your cause is repressed anger, I will address your concern about getting in touch with that.

    I had low back pain for more than two decades. The key to my fully overcoming it was to become aware of when I was repressing anger at my wife. The following passage from Healing Back Pain was the key for me in learning to uncover repressed anger. Sarno was discussing his TMS equivalent of heartburn:

    The cultural imperatives of family and society provide strong motivation not to show anger; this becomes deeply imbedded, starting as it does in early childhood. We realize, all unconsciously, that anger is often inappropriate, springing from irritants which ought not make us angry, and so we repress. . . . I do that a lot. I have learned that heartburn means that I am angry about something and don’t know it. So I think about what might be causing the condition, and when I come up with the answer the heartburn disappears. It is remarkable how well buried the anger usually is. Generally for me it is something that about which I am annoyed but have no idea how much it has angered me. Sometimes it is something that is so loaded emotionally, I don’t come up with the answer for a long time. (Emphasis added.)​

    I succeeded in overcoming my low back pain when it hit by asking myself if I was irritated or annoyed at my wife. Notice that Sarno refers to irritants “which ought not make us angry.” The familial or societal-learned “ought not” is why we repress the anger. Dr. Sarno’s chief psychologist, to whom he would refer patients who were not making good progress, was trained in short-term dynamic psychotherapy (aka intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy or ISTDP). ISTDP calls words like “irritated” or “annoyed” cover words because they cover up what is really anger.

    One more point about the passage I quoted above. Notice that Sarno said his heartburn would disappear when he came up with the answer to what he was angry about and didn’t know it. He did not say he had to act out the anger. That has been my experience as well.

    So my suggestion, MAG, is that you start trying to become attuned to when you are irritated or annoyed by someone. I am not talking about being irritated or annoyed by a waiter in a restaurant whose service is bad or a car driver who cuts you off in traffic. Sarno called that displaced anger. I am talking about irritation or annoyance at people with whom you have relationships that are important to you.
    Baseball65 and MAG like this.
  7. MAG

    MAG New Member

    Duggit: I think a key thing to take away from your response is irritation or annoyance at people that are important to me. I've dealt with a lot of hurt from a lot of them and tend to sweep it under the rug because I love them so much. There's usually something going on with that, but lately, there's been an extra stress with one of them in particular. It makes sense. Maybe I am actually angry when I'm feeling irritated and annoyed. Did you journal about that to feel the emotion?
  8. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    This is brilliant. Thanks for bringing it up. As George Orwell made clear, language is deadly powerful stuff. When I am "irritated" or "annoyed," these terms--as I apply them--may sometimes serve as completely unconscious euphemisms for a much more unsettling emotion (rage). As I've read so many posts about anger and the confusion that anger/repressed anger causes people, I'm reminded of times in my mid-twenties when I was stuck in a relationship with a good woman and a set of really conflicted feelings. When she asked how I was feeling (when I was shut down), ALL I could say was that I felt blocked. That was it. I had no other words for, or understanding of, the extent of my incredible anger. One night I went out and drove around screaming out the car window, letting off steam. I might have said then that I was angry. But I had no way to connect that experience with all of the other things that had led up to that moment at that time in my life. Now, I'm 61 and I'm STILL learning to SEE what I know is there but I can't FEEL (the unconscious aspects of my rage). I get hints, and I'm learning to respect those hints. They are so much more than annoyance, though when I bill them as "annoyance" I risk misinterpreting their impact on my "mindbody." I default to being a mature, intellectual sort, a person above anger. I have been above anger for many, many years. That position involves creating a persona and subscribing to a sort of emotional perfectionism, which, as I see more of my humanity, is an insane way to live. Dr. Hanscom (Back in Control) helped me to see that such a position is a victim's role. That's a shocker, for I never thought of myself that way. Yet a perfectionist is often playing an unconscious victim's role--one becomes an eternal stooge to one's own self-imposed impossible standards--and is that ever disempowering--and enraging.

    Working on Louise Hay's stuff (You Can Heal Your Life) I'm beginning to glimpse--just glimpse--what it means to be free in your body when you recognize, accept, and fully allow the full range of what's inside of you, of what IS you. And to forgive. The past is so done. The point of power, she says, is now.

    Thanks for the posts, everyone.
    MAG likes this.
  9. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    I know many on this forum champion journaling. I never journaled. For me, the time to attend to repressed emotion is not confined to a particular, and limited, time of the day or evening that one might set aside for journaling. I mentioned Sarno's chief psychologist above. Her name is Arlene Feinblatt. She trained a few other psychologists in her short-term dynamic psychotherapy model, and Sarno referred patients to them as well as to her. Two of them, Anderson and Sherman, wrote a book titled Pathways to Pain Relief (for which Sarno wrote the Foreword). Here is one thing Anderson wrote:

    For people who have great difficulty being aware of what they are feeling about what they are saying, I work intensively on this in each session. I recommend that they take a "feeling inventory" several times during the day and evening. Ask yourself, "What am I feeling about the events that happened during the past hour? . . . At the beginning of therapy, some people need to take this inventory once every hour. As we are doing this "emotion detection" work inside and outside the sessions, we are also tracking pain levels as well as presence and absence of pain. This strategy is aimed at making links between emotions and pain symptoms.
    At the end of the passage from Healing Back Pain that I quoted in my earlier post, Sarno said that sometimes his repressed anger involves "something that is so loaded emotionally, I don’t come up with the answer for a long time." He recounts such a situation in The Divided Mind when he suffered from heartburn while on a trip with his wife and the cause was repressed anger at her. He wrote: "I had promised the long trip to my wife, who loves to travel. I was being a good guy. I was unconsciously furious for having to do something I really didn't want to do. My psyche wouldn't permit me to be consciously furious at my wife, and neither would my reasonable self . . . ." Anger at a loved one can be especially loaded emotionally because, as ISTDP postulates, in addition to the anger there is often guilt about it.
  10. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I remember that vignette and It concurred with the recovery experience I was having . By the time 'divided mind' came out I was already a 'book cure' from HBP, but still having an occasional attempted event. I was already doing what Sarno described there. Reading it in his own words only made it that much more profound.

    I have aborted attempted attacks in minutes. As soon as a spasm, shot of nerve pain, treppe or even nausea hit me , I instantly do a fast 'canvas' of my immediate environment. Often times the person who I am unconsciously angry at hasn't even left the room yet!

    I don't have to necessarily change anything i.e. Leave the room, get off the job, get off the field. What I do have to do is 'get it'. I might go to a restroom, or a side room and think down that well worn path to my selfishness.... BLAM. I can still finish the job, the obligation, do the favor at an ungodly hour... Just need to know that the 5 year old inside doesn't WANT to play. The physical symptom goes away almost in real time and it is an amazing gift. Thank You again DR. Sarno!
    BloodMoon likes this.
  11. MAG

    MAG New Member

    I need to read this over and over to absorb it. Thank you!

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