Hi everyone! Despite already knowing that the most effective advice in response to my upcoming questions/worries is likely to be 'stop worrying, obsessing and overthinking - you're TMSing!,' whatever I do, I can't quite seem to shake these particular fear thoughts. Often, I'll be successfully practising outcome independence, not giving a thought to my symptoms, feeling good, and then it all crumbles, because I start to worry that I'm not paying due attention to my emotions, or successfully 'feeling' them. That I have no idea when I might be or what I might be repressing. And that unless I get a handle on this particular part of recovery, despite overcoming fears associated with my specific symptoms, my brain will never really feel safe, and the symptom imperative will continue in perpetuity. I've held off on making a thread, because deep down, I know I'm overthinking it. But despite my best efforts, these worries keep spinning around my head. It was frustrating. I didn't want to ask for help, because I felt that would subsequently legitimise these fears. But then I figured I was being too hard on myself, and that there's no shame in asking for advice. Anyway, I feel as if I don't fully understand what it means to both: a) feel your emotions. b) manage your emotions. In regards to point a), learning to 'feel your emotions' is a cornerstone in many, if not most, of TMS recovery programs. It's one of the first pieces of advice given to those that are new to this process. Yet, despite having been aware of TMS for around about a year, I still don't understand what this really means. Seeking practical advice on how to 'feel your emotions' (because, if we need to learn how to do it, then by implication we're not doing it currently) invariably leads to a variant of 'well, no one can tell you how to really do that - all of us are born with the ability to do it - you just have to feel them!' And I subsequently feel stupid, frustrated, and angry at myself, because I must somehow be lacking this intuitive, human ability if it's not immediately obvious to me what I should be doing. That's the irrational, child-like part of me speaking. In my rational and adult brain, I don't actually think I'm lacking anything. That wouldn't make any sense. However, I am frustrated and confused, because: surely we have no agency in feeling our emotions? I either feel something, or I don't. It doesn't appear that I have any control over what I feel. I can't learn to feel my emotions, surely, because it's not a conscious process. It just happens. Yet, it's often give as advice, as something that we can do. As something that we should do, and as TMS'ers, that we're not doing already. When people give this advice, do they mean to stop actively suppressing your emotions? As in, if you get angry, don't deny that you're angry, and let yourself be angry? Because if this is what is actually meant by 'learning to feel your emotions,' then I can rest easy. I've made a conscious effort to not deny any emotional state that I find myself in. If this is all it takes, all it means, then I really have been overthinking it. Okay, that's the first part. Thank you earnestly to anyone that's keeping up with me. I know this post is long. Second point, point b) - managing your emotions. After getting frustrated with the above questions, and feeling like I didn't have the level of understanding I felt was necessary, at one point, I simply said - screw it. You know what? Emotions aren't relevant, aren't important. Just stop thinking about emotions altogether. All this process takes is not giving a shit, getting over the fear, not worrying about anything. I tried to convince myself that this was true, by virtue of past evidence. Whenever I have managed to simply stopped caring, stopped fearing the symptoms - that's when I've seen the most notable decrease in pain. That was last week, when I said 'screw it.' I was feeling pretty good about my new-found confidence. For four days, I felt great, liberated from my worries about this process, feeling secure in the knowledge that all I had to do was simply not give a shit, not about the symptoms, or about my worries in regards to emotions. All I had to do was not fear. No fear, no pain, as balto says. And then, on day five, I crashed. I'd been feeling weird all day - for some reason, despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to fully get into the headspace of outcome independence. I was feeling irritable, fatigued, not able to fully concentrate. In the evening, there was a stressful event involving me, my mum, and my grandmother. My mum had accidentally locked my (very elderly) grandmother out of the house, in the cold, wind and rain. I ended up snapping at her, in quite a horrible way. I didn't mean to - it just came out. My mum was upset, obviously, and despite apologising, not feeling able to handle the situation any further, I went upstairs, for some space. There - I cried my eyes out. I felt a horrible mixture of anger, fear, and despair. And none of it was to do with my mum. It was all to do with my situation and chronic symptoms. Getting angry at mum was just the trigger for it to come out. I felt conflicted feeling the anger, fear and despair, because all of this strong emotion was in contradiction with outcome independence - I was supposed to not fear the pain! After this event, and after acknowledging that: - Alan Gordon, in his Breaking the Pain Cycle article, despite arguing that overcoming fear is the way to break the cycle chronic pain, also concedes that 'I don’t want to minimize the importance of working through the underlying emotions. Often if you don’t work through these emotions, a new symptom will pop up that will serve to preoccupy you all over again.' - Even Dorado, who acknowledges that to get better, he just forgot about the whole process and got back to living his life/not giving a shit, says that he learnt to manage his emotions (I hope you don't mind me referencing you for the sake of example, Dorado! Your posts have been hugely useful to me). I then had to concede that emotions do play a part in this process. I realised too, that the times where I have been able to abandon all fear, have been times when I've had a strong emotional release shortly beforehand. And so I felt stuck, back to square one. Because, as well as not understanding point a) (what feeling your emotions means), I don't understand point b), by which I mean how to manage your emotions, when you're confident that you are feeling them. Holding onto your anger, worrying over things that you cannot control, stressing about things that are ultimately irrelevant - all of which contribute to the brain feeling unsafe. To me, successfully managing your emotions means to stop doing the above. To allow your brain a break, to feel safe, to relax, to be in the moment, to accept, to stop it from being on high alert. To stop surrounding yourself with negative emotions, basically. And to do that, whenever I am in a negative headspace/feeling negative emotions, I simply want to say the golden, magic words: fuck it. It just doesn't matter. Let it go, stop caring about it. But then if I say the anger I'm holding onto doesn't matter, if I say my worries don't matter, if I say what I'm stressing about doesn't matter, if that's what I'm feeling, I worry that I am denying my feelings. I feel trapped! This is the crux of my anxiety about all this. I want to let go, to say fuck it, but I'm worried that by doing so I'm denying how I feel, and contributing to repression. I feel stupid for admitting it, but I still don't really understand the distinction between letting things go, and suppressing them. For example, this morning, someone angered me. Should have I: - 'Explored my anger,' focused on it, tried to understand it, tried to 'feel it.' - Let go of it, realise that it doesn't matter. I know this person didn't mean to upset me. Who cares? I accept that I feel angry, but I'm also saying that it doesn't matter. The former doesn't make sense to me, because of the reasons I discussed in relevance to point a). How can I 'try' to feel my feelings? I already feel angry! Surely that's enough? I so desperately want to be able to do the latter. It just feels right. And if by doing the latter, if this is not in contradiction with feeling your feelings, which I acknowledge is important, then great! It's all good! I want to shout at myself, with confidence: stop giving a fuck! It's fine! You've constructed a minefield of worries in your own head! And that is what I am constantly saying to myself - that I'm overthinking, to stop thinking about this entire issue entirely. But then the fear comes back that I really am missing something important within my understanding, and after fighting against that fear for ages, I just feel exhausted, and want to ask for advice. Last point: I know the constant thinking about the above, regardless of whether the fears are valid or not, is overthinking, and is worsening my symptoms. This is why I tried to just abandon it, dispel it. The fear came back with a vengeance, though, and now I feel the best way to overcome this fear of 'not getting it' is to ask for advice and support, and try work through it that way. Thank you so much to anyone who stuck with me through that. I really needed to get that out. If anyone does have any thoughts or advice, I would really, really appreciate it. Much love!