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Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Boston Redsox, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    As anybody found that journaling, can be very repetitive, I mean how much can you write about the sam issues and repressed emotions once you are aware of them, am I missing something here.

    Please clarify.

  2. 3rdCoast

    3rdCoast Peer Supporter

    I hear what your saying about journaling and have felt I was re-writing the same sentences at times. Heck, I still do. To me, it seems the first part of the equation is becoming aware of the emotions (which you’ve done). You never get to examine repressed emotions directly but repeat journaling confirms important life events worthy of your attention. The second (more difficult) part is realizing that it’s completely OK and normal to have those emotions. Like the example in HBP of the father who’s repressing angry emotions about his newborn keeping him up, taking time away from his marriage, etc. He first had to realize those emotions existed. He then needed to accept that those were totally normal emotions to have for that situation. There's no simple answer but the two part awareness idea made sense to me.

    Stephen Conenna, author of the book Use Your Mind to Heal your Body, was part of a discussion on March 4, 2014. It’s a good listen overall and gives valuable insight into journaling, emotions, acceptance, etc. Hope it helps.

    Click here to download the mp3 audio
    Boston Redsox, Forest and Ellen like this.
  3. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Heya, BoSox,

    I'd be interested to hear others' opinions on this, but I would expect that writing again and again about the same issues would be of limited usefulness. There is lots of research (the name James Pennebaker often comes up) that shows that short term expressive writing can be very helpful:

    However, in most of those studies, they only wrote for 15 minutes a day for four days and then were done. That's not much!

    When I designed the Structured Educational Program, I added a significant amount of journaling because I believe that a certain amount of journaling can be very helpful in developing greater self awareness. This will decrease our unconscious tension because it will help us make peace with the world. Also, if we understand our own psychology better, it can help us connect cause (emotional tension) with effect (physical symptoms), helping us to see that our bodies are strong and that we don't need to fear the pain. However, despite this, I don't think that a long-term journaling practice is that productive.

    Personally, I journal when I've got something I want to work out and explore. If an idea feels like it would be boring and routine to write about, then I figure I won't learn very much from it.

    (I want to emphasize that this is just what works for me, and that the beautiful thing about a forum is that we can each have our own opinions.)

    So what do we work on if we aren't working on journaling so hard? Well, why do we have to work on anything at all? Perhaps we can just allow ourselves to live our lives, being kind to ourselves.

    In terms of TMS work, I'm a fan of the simple five steps that Dr. Sarno used as section headings in the treatment section of healing back pain. See this post for more:

    The following page tells the story of someone who worked incredibly hard with journaling, filling up all sorts of notebooks, but it didn't work:
    It wasn't until he relaxed into his pain a little bit and learned to fear it less that he got better (Alan Gordon and I call this symptom response modification because you're modifying the way that you respond to your symptoms). In general, I don't see many success stories in the success stories subforum where people were stuck for a long time and then decided to start journaling really hard, crying their eyes out, and got better. In contrast, I've known a number of people who found a way to strain less and managed to get better. (some people have said that this post helps a lot with straining less, but you really have to work it.)

    Overall, I believe that TMS healing is about relaxing, unfolding, and finding joy in life while managing to forget about the pain. (Remember, its job is to distract you; don't let it!) Of course there are many mysteries in it as well...
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
    Dahlia, Ellen, Barb M. and 2 others like this.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm glad to see Stephen Connena's book get mentioned and his interview posted. I really like his book, especially his journaling techniques. His book is very clear, concise, simple--no fluff. Just the basics of what someone needs to heal.

    I think if you are journaling and not seeing any change in your symptoms, that you may need to go deeper. Stephen discusses how the issue is not just the emotion, but how you feel about having that emotion--that is where the internal conflict lies, and that is where we need to focus and dig deep.

    I think journaling helps relieve TMS because it demonstrates to our unconscious that we are not afraid of looking at our emotions--even the ugly, dark ones. Without the fear of the emotions, the unconscious no longer has any reason to distract us from them with TMS symptoms.
    3rdCoast likes this.
  5. Markus

    Markus Guest

    I was just going to journal things that came up where I felt anger. I don't know if I'll limit it to 4 days.....I also don't want to experience intense emotions for a long time. I journal now everyday for over 11 years so, I'm pretty self aware, I hope you're not saying there are rules to follow in the journaling?

  6. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh, goodness, I'm definitely not saying there are any rules for journaling. Overall, if you feel that journaling is helping you and that you are unearthing or processing things that are important, then it is a good thing. If you aren't making any progress or are getting worse, then it is a bad thing. A certain amount of journaling seems to generally be a good thing, but if it is pursued obsessively or with a mindset that "if I just journal hard enough, my pain will go away," then I think that there are some times when it can be counterproductive.

    Only you can get a sense after you journal of whether it was productive. Did you learn something new about yourself? Will the things you journaled about bother you less? Maybe it will take a couple of journaling sessions to figure out if your work on a given topic is helping you with that topic, but eventually the journaling should make you feel better.

    If an activity doesn't make you feel better over time (or makes you feel worse), then that's not a good sign. Maybe it's not helping.

    I remember a very smart and thoughtful guy I met in TMS circles. He did journaling and even worked with a therapist. He became extremely introspective and talked about how he had started to cry more easily, sometimes for no reason. He interpreted this as him being more in touch with his emotions, but that didn't seem right to me. On the contrary, it looked to me like he was just winding himself up more and more and getting all wrapped up in what was bothering him. Of course, I don't know him that well, so I can't say anything with confidence. But my gut said that he was "feeding the wrong wolf" (or, using different language, he was strengthening the wrong neural pathways). Despite a great deal of very hard and earnest work, I don't think he's had much symptom reduction, and that makes me feel bad to think about it. That's why I emphasize that if an activity doesn't make you feel better over time, then that's not a good sign.

    I guess I feel that a certain amount of introspection and visiting the past is very helpful. However, at a certain point, it may be best to put the past behind us and live in the present, focusing on living authentic, joyous and meaningful lives rather than worrying about hidden psychological forces. There's only so much we can know, but at least for some TMSers, the TMS psychology just loves becoming preoccupied with one thing or another. Don't let it!

    As for myself, I probably sit down to write every week or so, usually if I have an emotion or thought that I want to work through. Several years ago my girlfriend said that she wished that I was more in touch with my emotions. At roughly the same time, I started reading about the emotional brain. Somehow, as a result of those two factors, my eyes have been opened up in ways that I never would have anticipated, and writing has been a big part of that. I often use body centered techniques to help me identify emotions and try to use a mixture of thinking and feeling.

    Overall, I feel like it is helping me to understand myself and live a better life. It's an example of an activity that is making me feel better over time, so I keep doing it. I almost never find a negative feeling to submerge myself in in hopes of discharging it. I find that attempting to do that generally makes me feel worse rather than better, and despite my decision to avoid that type of activity, I'm feeling quite fine, without any pain to bother me.

    Bottom line: journal if you want to journal. Only you can figure out what works best for you, but that's part of the process of learning how to find equanimity and happiness throughout our entire brains (and mind-body healing always starts with the mind, so finding authentic peace is what we're all after here).
    Dahlia and Markus like this.
  7. Markus

    Markus Guest

    I bought a journal today, a biggun! I really wasn't certain I wanted to do it. My first entry is about how much I wish I would never been told I had fibromyalgia! I wish they would have said everything is normal. Mainly because I didn't developed chronic symptoms until 7 or 8 years later after a series of stresses!
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I agree with Forest and others who believe that journaling over and over on the same subject can be
    counter-productive. I journaled for about a week on my past and present (only about 20 minutes a day)
    and found enough to fill a book.

    I found myself repeating anxiety or pain causes so I just stopped. I focused mainly on one or two of the
    "biggies," then stopped writing and thinking about those. My subconscious must have gotten the message(s)
    because my back pain went away.

    Dr. Sarno says we just need to discover the repressed emotions or personality trait that causes our pain.
    We don't have to solve any emotional problems. But I did find forgiving to be very important.
  9. Markus

    Markus Guest

    Well, I won't spend much time (weeks),
    Doing this journaling. I'll focus /or allow my mind to go to where it wants. And be done with it!

    Boston Redsox likes this.
  10. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    I have the same type of story Walt and my pain subsided then came back with a lot of help….but I will not journal about the same issues over and over they enter my mind then I let me go, instead I checkin with my mind a few times a day and see what I am thinking about and let it go
  11. Markus

    Markus Guest

    I haven't even journeyed today. The odd thing is I feel a bit better but, I've only known about this sinse March 2nd. So probably not really better, I only journal about what feelings I have i don't force anything.

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