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Outcome Independence: the sneaky problem

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Sarah Jacoba, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. Sarah Jacoba

    Sarah Jacoba Peer Supporter

    here's my problem with the idea of outcome independence....or just about any other positive idea in dealing with TMS...

    I want to stop caring about the pain, the outcome, because caring about it and trying to "fix" it just seems to enhance the symptoms. But when I read Alan Gordon's posts, it gives me hope that not caring about the pain will lead to the pain going away (e.g. when I read chickenbone's comment in response to Alan: "Hi. I had tremendous success with getting rid of my pain this way, 1. knowing that my pain is TMS 2. Knowing that it is harmless and 3. Not caring if I have pain or not. So I don't have pain now")...

    but that thought or hope equates to caring again

    if you argue that you have to not care, then I'm left with a problem. I do care. after 23 years of this in various forms, I've been ready to kill myself, essentially, off and on at points over the last year. I am thinking about suicide with increasing frequency. because it's really a practical, logical response to whatever about my psyche insists on continually finding new torments for me. I've hit a point where even if I see a certain pain symptom diminish, l pretty much can expect something new to pop up.

    case in point: I was doing better last winter, hit my head, got a concussion, and now, even though I recovered from the concussion, my TMS has figured out how to give me pseudo concussive symptoms on top of the urinary urgency that made me suicidal a year ago. It couldn't get me with 1 or the other, but the combo has upped the game.

    I just don't want to deal with this anymore. I have got over TMJ, no symptoms in over 10 years, I got over arm/shoulder pain (almost no symptoms in 12 years) but I can logically expect more, and more sneaky, symptoms. or combos of symptoms. anything that happens to me, like my concussion, becomes a new TMS battlefront.

    how do I really not care about decades more of this? the only way I could convince myself to not care would be in the spirit of a secret hope that that mindset would help me, and then I'm caring all over again.

    it's the ultimate mind prison paradox.
    jen s likes this.
  2. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    Could you practise not caring from the point of view that the symptoms are not doing any damage to you physically, they are just physical sensations created by your mind.

    This does not mean giving up hope of them going away. Hope is the positive neural pathway that will give you the enthusiasm to practise this.

    Try to look at it as temporarily accepting the sensations and not adding any attention to them by being upset. This will mean over time the symptoms lose their purpose of distraction and fade away.
    JanAtheCPA, jen s and Ellen like this.
  3. hodini

    hodini Peer Supporter

    Hi Sarah,
    I am sorry that you are having such a difficult time. I totally understand your phrasing of a "mind prison paradox".
    First of all, I would suggest if you are not seeing someone about your suicidal thoughts, to please talk to someone about it. Perhaps you could reach out to whatever support you have outside of the TMS community. It might help you to see that you are not in a mind prison, but dealing with some serious issues.

    Jargon, when used in describing medical conditions can be very frustrating. I have asked Alan about the meaning of outcome independence as I feel it puts all of the onus on the practitioner and none on the theory. If I remember right, he came back with an equally difficult to understand term "authentic indifference" Which he never explained when I mentioned that it was not in my lexicon.

    To put it simply, I just do not see how the insistence of being able to "not care about ones pain" not to be an unrealistic goal to set for ones self. No matter what one does, it is hard to deny the certainty that at one point in their lives they will experience pain that they care about.

    The cares are real and normal responses to ones body condition. Once pain is experienced it is normal to wonder how long it will last. It is normal based upon ones view of friends and associates to have expectations of approximate times that one should feel better even if they do happen on a graduating scale.

    By having a goal to just "not care about the pain", for some people it can lead to a lot of self blaming which if I am hearing you correctly is a "mind prison". That is a very good term for it. If part of the issue with people who have TMS is a perfectionist personality, to give them the unrealistic expectation to ultimately not be able to "care" about their pain just enables and enhances the striving for perfection in this regard. I have mentioned this several times, and yet no one has addressed it.

    For most people, even those I have read here who believe they have TMS, pain is of a transient nature. When I read that someone has "not cared " about their pain and it disappeared, I never hear it mentioned that quite a bit of pain disappears by itself.

    It appears that the not caring about the pain then also includes not caring about the idea that their pain may have just resolved by itself as most does in our natural kingdom and miraculous bodies.

    Forgetting these simple facts can easily leave one with a feeling of hopelessness. In your case it appears to be extreme and concerning.

    While I understand given the circumstances when you say that Suicide is a " logical response" it is only one when your logical critical thinking abilities get challenged to such a great extent attempting to achieve the unachievable, if you can escape the mind prison paradox, it will no longer seem logical, and in reality Suicide is not a logical solution and you seem like a very logical gal.

    There are not words for the pain and suffering that a suicide leaves behind, if you have experienced a friend or family member having done so you can relate. Besides, expanding your support system to include others, I would suggest allowing yourself to "care" and especially view it as being caring for yourself in a positive way. I wish you all the best!
    jen s and Lily Rose like this.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have found it helpful to replace "not caring about the pain" with "not focusing on the pain". For me it is about what is going on in my mind. If I'm constantly thinking about the pain (or other TMS symptom) and reacting to it with thoughts of "this sucks, this is horrible, why is this happening to me, my life sucks, etc, etc" then my thinking is adding fuel to my TMS. It can seem impossible at first, but with practice, it is possible to shift your attention to something neutral or positive. I find it most useful to turn my thoughts outside myself to nature, pets, other people, music, an absorbing task, etc. Then I start to have periods where I actually "forget" about the TMS symptom. With practice and success, these periods increase until I am not thinking about my TMS symptom for the majority of my day. So I'm no longer feeding my TMS with my thoughts.

    I'd start by looking for any periods currently where you weren't focused on your symptoms. What were you doing? Then try to expand on that.
  5. MicheleRenee

    MicheleRenee Peer Supporter

    yes, this, everytime my pain disappears my mind says hm maybe it wasnt mind/body. but in essence this is certainly MOST mind/body at it's finest. but even that thought makes u anxious, amps up the nervous system, begins the pain again. when in reality, i do believe mindbody is just calming the nervous system enough that eventually the pain goes away... some people do that instantly (book cures). I happened to do that with my pain several times in the past years when i really didnt think it was anything to worry about,( pain would vanish ina couple hrs, fews days, etc.) which essentailly, it isn't, because it will go away in time when we don't worry about what we're doing all the god damn time to "fix it". but when you're told not to worry i think a lot of us say "okay worry" or feel if we arent doing anything we aren't healing properly. it's a catch 22 i really believe.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  6. jen s

    jen s New Member

    I'm with Sarah, I can't "not care". If I didn't care I wouldn't be on this forum. All of us care. Alan, is there another way to look at this to help those of us struggling? I'm always going to care about having pain. I will never choose to have pain . I hate pain and it's ruining my life. I don't know how to be indifferent about it. I think this is an important point in the process and I just can't not care.
    Balsa11 and Cheryl like this.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi jen,

    I see you struggling with this concept, and I sympathize. Making this shift in your thoughts is one of the hardest things we have to do in order to recover. The thing is, you seem to have asked this question multiple times in different threads, and the thing that struck me right away is that you always, and I mean ALWAYS, prominently use the word "can't".

    You have received very thoughtful responses from others, and you have hopefully read previous responses that were made to others. There is incredibly valuable advice there - and there's got to be something there that will speak to you - but only if you are ready to receive it.

    Unfortunately, what I'm seeing is that your fearful primitive brain is stubbornly holding on to a very well-established pattern of negative expectations. And you are totally letting it do this. Not consciously, of course - this is all subconscious, but this is where you need to take control if you seriously want to address your issues using mind-over-body practices.

    As long as you continue to say "I can't", you simply will not progress. Every time you say it out loud (or write it down!) it reinforces your fearful subconscious to stay negative and to keep you in pain.

    It's not going to be easy to train yourself out of saying that, but if you have the will, you will prevail. Changing your language is the first step to changing your thoughts.

    I know that this is possible, because you said this in one of your posts:
    The answer is Yes!

    I have questions for you:

    Are you in fact doing Alan's program?
    Have you tried the SEP?
    Which of Dr. Sarno's books have you read?
    Or any other resources about TMS or mind-body healing?
    What about anxiety? Do you know about Hope & Help For Your Nerves, by Claire Weekes?

    Finally, I have a great resource which will teach you about how our brains are wired to be negative - and how we are wired to keep letting our brains be negative. It's called "Meditations To Change Your Brain" although the program (which is an audio program, I even saw that I could check it out from my library) is more lecture than it is meditation practices. I found it incredibly helpful in learning to hear the negative messages my brain was bombarding me with - which led to being able to take a lot more control over those messages, and turn them into something more constructive in order to create positive results.

  8. Rosebud

    Rosebud Peer Supporter

    Last week, my adult son wanted to go to a certain event. He knew I'd be interested too, so he asked if we could go together. I'm sure the fact that I drive and he doesn't had nothing to do with that. ;) I looked up how to obtain tickets, and I found out that it would have to be through my son, since it was a fair in his field of work, and he could get free tickets through his employer. Great! So I told him that I'd be happy to drive, if he took care of the tickets. And then I let it go. I did take care not to make other appointments on the day of the fair. He gets the tickets, great. He doesn't, that's OK too, I'll have a nice and peaceful day at home. Just let it go. That's authentic indifference to me. It's nothing like apathy! I do want to go to the fair! But I'm not hung up on it.

    He did get the tickets, and we had a nice day. Afterwards, he hugged me, and asked me what my favourite moment was. Lol, that's what I used to ask him after a school outing when he was a kid! (Grown up kids are the best. All of the fun, none of the laundry.)

    Am I able to handle pain that way? Somewhat. I would really prefer to be rid of the pain, after all, so it's difficult.

    ETA: I guess my point is that I try to consciously practice authentic indifference in other circumstances, when I really CAN be somewhat indifferent.
  9. jen s

    jen s New Member

    I like this because you're being true about it. You truly wanted to go to the fair, but you can accept if you don't. I really don't want to be in pain, but I'll try to accept that it is here temporarily.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  10. jen s

    jen s New Member


    Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I just sent you a private message with more details. It is all so difficult and I appreciate your comments. I will definitely try the resources you mentioned. FEAR is such a strong thing and I will continue to work on that!! :) THANKS
    Balsa11 and readytoheal like this.

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