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I understand the concept; now, what do I do?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Ann Miller, Nov 16, 2021.

  1. Ann Miller

    Ann Miller Well known member

    Okay, I hear that I need to “feel my repressed feelings” but what does that even mean? I thought I was already doing that. How do I do what I need to do to get out of pain?

    All great questions and ones that I had at the beginning of this work. It seems that we TMSers go through stages of development. At first we need to learn about the concepts and begin to believe that our brains and our repressed emotions that we deem scary are indeed causing our physical symptoms. After this concept begins to take root, we turn to the next stage...what do we do? This is where we get confused with all the different messages, programs, and advice. Now as sufferers of chronic pain, we are used to chasing modalities and methods. After all, most of us have sought multiple doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and alternative medical practitioners repeatedly, sometimes for years. So it feels like home for us to continue seeking methods and to continue seeking advice. This is the stage we call TMSing about TMS. If you find yourself in the loop of intellectualizing the process, I urge you to stop. This is a turning point in your recovery. The minute you stop thinking about solution after solution, program after program, and start experiencing your emotions is the day you begin to rewire your brain by sending it signals that those emotions are safe...all of them, every dark, horrible, selfish, petty one. And that is the key to all the healing you crave.

    So how did I end three decades of chronic back pain, fibro, chronic Lyme, dizziness and all the rest? I learned to distinguish between thoughts, emotions and feelings. Let me explain because this was a difficult distinction for me to understand and therefore, I’m guessing, it might be difficult for others too. My thoughts come in and out of my active little brain. I’ve got TONS of them. This is what brains do...they think. Often I’ll have other thoughts about my thoughts and so on. It’s clear that I will then have emotions about these thoughts. Emotions are laced with values, judgement, and "shoulds." Prior to mind/body work I very much judged my emotions. Were they helpful? Were they nice? Were they justified? (big one there) You get the idea. With this constant judging came a natural filter. Only the emotions that fit in with my values and view of myself were allowed to stay; all the others were repressed. I didn’t realize that I was doing this repression. It came as naturally as breathing. Step one in recovering from chronic pain for me was uncovering a bit of what I was repressing. I did it through journaling. Others have had success with just asking themselves over and over “what are my emotions?” Realize that surface emotions are just that...the surface. We need to dig deeper into the layers under the layers of layers. We don’t have to give light to ALL of our repressed emotions, but we need to get to some of them, because we have to send signals to our brains that it’s safe to have these emotions. Then, once I’ve identified my layers of emotions, I track where I feel them in my body. I call these my feelings. So if my emotion is jealousy, maybe under that is fear, and under that is insecurity and under that is grief. Where do I feel that jealousy? Red hot flame in my gut. There’s energy in this feeling. Where do I feel the insecurity? Unstable, quivery gut. I want to push this feeling away. Where do I feel the grief? Weighted pressure on my heart, throat closing, eyes aching. It’s heavy and bleak and stagnant. And I sit there with it. I just sit there. And now I know. I’ve got many dimensions and I know where I feel them. I know that it’s SAFE to feel them. I do it again the next day. Thoughts lead to emotions which lead to feelings in the body. Experience each step and reduce the fear of each step.

    MickeyLou, Balsa11, NNava and 4 others like this.
  2. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Thanks Ann. This is a great post.

    So let's say you have a repressed emotion, or somewhat repressed. Let's say guilt about something from long ago. I acknowledge this feeling of guilt, I recognize that I have it, but I do not feel it in my body per se. I have struggled with this before, the advice to "feel the emotion in your body". What then - maybe the most important thing is to simply acknowledge the emotion?

    Cactusflower likes this.
  3. Ann Miller

    Ann Miller Well known member

    Great question! And I'm so glad you chose guilt for your example because its such a juicy multi-dimensional emotion. For me, guilt would be just one layer. No one acts in a vacuum so even though I might do something that I have guilt about, even tremendous guilt about, there are going to be other emotions too. Part of me is going to feel justified in what I did. I might feel angry that I feel guilty or angry that society or my religion makes me feel guilty. angry at myself for doing the thing. I might feel envious that others can do what I did and seemingly feel no guilt. One or more of these layers is going to provoke feelings in my body. So even if the original guilt didn't bring up much feeling, that envy or anger or justification would. I'd say don't push HAVING to feel something for every emotion but be curious and open and looking at it. Coldness, stiffness, these are feelings too.
    I'll also say that this 'feeling the emotion" concept is like a muscle. I had to practice and practice it. Definitely didn't come naturally...which is no doubt why I had pain. Lol. Now, I'm really good at it and can visualize emotions washing through me, swirling in me and then whooshing out. But that's graduate work :)
    Balsa11 and hawaii_five0 like this.
  4. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    Great. Very helpful.
    Ann Miller likes this.

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