1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

Question About Acceptance & Belief

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Huckleberry, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    So, I had a thought earlier today...I was out and about in my local town just browsing through shops etc as I'm prone to do when bored and this thought just popped into my head. Now, I've had this thought before and thought about it and analysed it and often considered there is some merit to it but never really acted on it as such. What was interesting today was that when the thought came it seemed to arrive totally out of blue and sort of blindsided me and caught me unawares...what was most interesting was what came with the thought, it was like a little klaxon going off as it arrived which seemed to be saying "this is important, listen to this' with that in mind I wanted some advice.

    The basic crux of this revolves around my total inability to accept a TMS diagnosis. What happened today was that the thought occurred that the core of this inability is my reluctance (you can probably read fear) to actually allow or even give myself permission to not only accept the diagnosis but more fundamentally to actually start to trust my body and judgement. It's like I feel compelled (obsessed) in monitoring my symptoms and therefore because I feel them it is up to me to act upon them and ensure they are dealt with as swiftly as possible before harm can come to me. I suppose in short it is like the acceptance of TMS will be me letting my guard down and possibly letting my body and very being down.

    Now, like I say this isn't a new concept to me...I suffer from health anxiety and this way of feeling is probably a common thought to the typical health anxiety type but for whatever reason it just seemed to offer up a huge amount of inner resonance today. I think my situation is muddied and complicated by the fact that a couple of years ago I was convinced my mum was suffering from TMS/anxiety and would explain the concept to her. She didn't have TMS, she had cancer and I recall clearing the house after her death and finding dog eared copies of Healing Back Pain & The Great Pain Deception...I felt guilty but I also felt so sorry for her in that both her son & GP had been convinced she was fundamentally OK when in reality she was gravely ill and within months of death. She had been reading those books as the cancer was killing her and I found and still find this something I often think about and I'm sure this is a huge obstacle to the acceptance for me.

    I probably follow the path typical of many on here when I have those lucid moments when I convince myself my pain is TMS but these moments are pretty fleeting and short lived...its almost as if the mental resolve and above all STRENGTH that is required to believe this 24/7 is just too much for me. I suppose in some ways this must be due to a failure to have faith in oneself and having the faith to let go of the need to monitor and control and just allow oneself to be. I think that is probably the crux of it...the total inability to allow myself just to be, to be without judgement, without interference, without analysing, without tinkering, without reassurance and yes of course without fear.

    I'm really not sure if it a normal human trait to be so switched onto your internal self and constantly feeling that as the sailor of the ship you constantly have to be on the lookout for that iceberg of cancer, MS, ALS, heart attacks or whatever other ailment you care to mention...one thing for sure is that it sure is time consuming, stressful and oh terribly distracting from real life.

    I suppose what I'm asking is just how people learn to self sooth and allow themselves to have faith and belief that things will be alright and that they will recover...I think there must be an element of actually also having the faith and belief that life will be still be good and fruitful and enjoyable even if the pain, TMS, uncertainty and anxiety continues. I'm failing at this and want some thoughts on how I can start winning.

    Cheers for reading.
    Anne Walker likes this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Huckleberry. You are not alone in having difficulty believing totally that your symptoms, including anxiety and fear,
    are from TMS. I believed it about 90 percent but my back pain persisted, until I finally told myself I believed 100 percent in TMS.
    Then the back pain went away.

    Having faith in TMS, for me, is like having faith in the Lord. I am 84 and know I will not be singing "The September Song"
    forever. I'm trying to think that there is an afterlife and that it will be a lot better than even the best parts of this one...
    no pain, no bills, no computers to frustrate me, no stupid pop culture. Just happy times ahead.

    I am very grateful to the Lord for letting me know about Dr. Sarno and TMS. I've learned so much more about myself and
    my boyhood that gave me TMS stresses. I learned to forgive, and that healed me.

    Believing in Jesus is, to me, a lot like believing in TMS. I stopped believing my pain was structural, which it wasn't,
    or not even from aging. It was from repressed emotions. I journaled about them and found peace through forgiveness.
    I hope you can, too.

    I think you have anxiety because of being uncertain about your symptoms being totally from TMS. I hope you will start
    to believe it 100 percent. Good luck and keep posting.
    Seraphina likes this.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Huckleberry, it's good to see you again. I'm so sorry about the loss of your mother, and especially about the guilt you've taken on.

    Your sentence that I quote above really caught my attention, because all four of these conditions (among many more) are discussed by Dr. Gabor Mate, MD in his mind-bending and compassionate book When The Body Says No (The Stress-Disease Connection). His definition of "stress" is the stress on our physiology of emotional repression, and he discusses cancer, heart disease, MS, ALS, and a multitude of auto-immune conditions and their relation to emotional repression.

    This book totally blew my mind - wide open. When you think about it, how often do you hear references to the fact that we get cancer as the result of emotional issues? It's all over the place, right? And yet, when it comes right down to a diagnosis, somehow that sense of an emotional component doesn't come into play - perhaps because, by then, it's seen as too late? Or because we don't want to blame the victim for their condition (although here, we blame ourselves for back pain all the time!) I find this to be quite mysterious - that there's this underground acceptance that you can get cancer from rage, but no open acceptance. Well, Dr. Mate comes right out and says it.

    You sensed that your mother suffered (I have no doubt) from what we conveniently call "TMS" but really, as you will understand from Dr. Mate, goes far beyond oxygen deprivation in our muscles. Dr. Mate says that cancer, in particular, requires a "perfect storm" of components: genetic predisposition, environmental exposure, and emotional stress which suppresses the body's natural defense against cancer cells (by which, he says, we are constantly being bombarded!)

    I expect that your mother showed so many signs of stress and anxiety that even her doctor was fooled when she did try and get herself checked out, as we always recommend. This is not on you, Huckleberry.

    If you read Dr. Mate (beautiful writer, loving and compassionate doctor) perhaps he will help you feel better. You can also find videos and writings by him on the internet. Reading Dr. Mate helped me to understand the death of a close friend who, I think, didn't know how to keep living. I had unconsciously felt there was something about her death that didn't make sense, and it was in Dr. Mate that I found an explanation.

    Another book you might read is "The Anatomy of Hope" by Dr. Jerome Groopman, MD (who writes often for the New Yorker). I found the first part very hard to read, because he describes the cases of his cancer patients in very clinical detail - but his desire to examine how their personal belief systems affected their disease is very heartfelt and compassionate and, in the end, fascinating. The middle part describes his own experience with back pain and a failed surgery, and the final part examines new thoughts and research into the emotional component of disease and treatment (including my favorite, which is people who are researching the power of the placebo effect). He does mention Dr. Sarno in his book, although only briefly.

    I hope this helps, Huckleberry - hang in there, have faith, and above all, forgive yourself and love yourself!

    Lavender likes this.
  4. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Cheers Walt...yep, I am not a Christian and not really religious in any way if I'm honest and when you mention your having faith in TMS was like having faith in God this did strike a cord. It's just a thought but maybe if somebody has been able to take a leap of faith already in their lives (I consider being a Christian to be taking a leap of faith, you may or may not agree and I have no intention to offend if you don't agree) then just maybe then taking another leap of faith becomes somewhat easier. I am an incredibly empirical based person and maybe this is why I have never really been drawn to religion and feeling compelled to taking that leap of faith and I suppose the very fact that TMS has no empirical evidence is one of the stumbling blocks in its acceptance for me. It's almost like my whole belief and knowledge structure needs to change.

    Thanks for the reply Jan. I feel my original post may have 'overplayed' the significance to me of my mums death and TMS. Yep, I am well aware of the correlation between stress, a compromised immune system and the subsequent diagnosis of cancer etc. I do feel in my mums case that stress was probably a large factor in the development of her cancer. I do feel this process whilst in theory is TMS...i.e an emotional process leading to a physical effect is different in that with TMS we are considering the subsequent benign physical symptoms. If we go down the route of stress possibly causing serious illness this can easily lead to more anxiety and worry.

    The reason I chose those specific illness/disease is because they are the usual suspects for a health anxiety sufferer. My problem is is that I do have the whatever percent of worry etc that makes me believe my symptoms are caused by such an illness rather than a benign TMS process and that was the crux of my post...I find myself unable to overcome this fully as it is my belief system and ability to comfort and reassure myself that seems not to be functioning. Yes, I know stress can cause cancer. This doesn't help me, it makes the situation worse.

    Thanks very much for replying guys and giving me some food for thought.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2014
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    If stress causes cancer, I should have been dead 40 years ago. I'm 84 now.
    I'm a fulltime freelance writer and have lived every day worrying about paying the bills
    to keep my house and the lights and gas on. I've kept positive all these years,
    and since learning aboutr TMS two years ago it helps even more.

    My best friends were good people who followed the Golden Rule of being good to others,
    and believed in God but stayed away from organized religion. I am a Catholic but followed
    my mother's advice not to be "church" or hang out with people who were publicly Catholic or Christian.

    I can understand that you need proof that our symptoms may be TMS and not structural.
    I find the success stories to be helpful in proving that. And my own experience of healing from
    severe back pain through TOTAL belief in TMS. I did journaling to find my way to forgiving
    those who caused me stress in my boyhood. Forgiving set me free.

    I hope you will keep at the SEP program because that has helped so many of us.
  6. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Huckleberry, let me ask you:
    Where does pain come from?
    What is phantom limb pain and where does it come from?
    How is it that all of the physiological processes in our bodies happen without us having to think about them?
    And (to use Dr. Sarno's first example which I have never forgotten): What is blushing?

    It doesn't take a leap of faith to answer these questions - the answers are empirically well established. It's the brain, the brain, the brain, and the brain, doing it all.

    If the brain can create blushing for no other reason than to distract us from an embarrassing or shameful emotion, and if it can remember old pain pathways to create phantom limb pain for reasons still unknown to us, then why on earth can it not create any physiological symptom, especially ones using old remembered conditioning, in order to distract us?

    If you haven't seen VS Ramachandran's Ted Talk on how he found a way to relieve phantom limb pain, check it out. If that doesn't convince you about conditioning and old pain pathways, nothing will! After seeing this, I used simple visualization (no mirror) to relieve pain in my right arm by visualizing my pain-free left arm whenever I wanted to use the right one. It worked.

    When I read Dr. Mate about the stress-disease connection (and by stress, he's talking about the deep stress of emotional repression, not day-to-day stress) I was inspired to give myself the freedom to not repress the dangerous and scary emotions, and to start visualizing healthy outcomes for myself. Dr. Groopman illustrates the physical effect that faith and hope can have on our health. His look at the placebo effect is about research that is currently being done on the power of the placebo effect - something we should be harnessing rather than dismissing.

    Once you accept the premise that the brain can create any symptom for distraction purposes, the next step is to accept the truth that you have the power to change this negative process into something positive and life-affirming. IF that's what you want.

    Thinking positively is not something that comes naturally to us humans - we are still wired to be scanning the horizon for danger, all the time. Getting out of this habit is not easy, but it can be done, more and more easily over time, although I don't think it will ever be a 100% natural state for the vast majority of us. But for me, ANY state of mind has got to be better than where I was three years ago, B.S. (Before Sarno :D)

    Ellen likes this.
  7. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

    Thanks again for the reply Jan.

    Regarding the actual concept of TMS, somatisation, learned pain and neural pathways, over sensitised nervous systems etc ext I can 'buy into' this all day long...I have zero doubt that its is a valid and correct concept and of course it is only limited somewhat in western culture by our diehard adherence to Cartesian dualism. When I mentioned about empirical proof I wasn't so much as referring to the concept because as you rightly say something like blushing clearly shows a physical response to an emotional event but rather how hard it is to get the empirical evidence required that your particular symptoms etc are a the result of a non structural/organic causality.

    As I mentioned I am well aware that this is a huge hurdle for pretty much everybody but the point of my OP was that I seemed to have a fleeting moment of the realisation that my hurdle centred around the issue of 'not allowing' myself to actually switch off from being my bodies policeman for want of a better analogy. Maybe you are correct when you mention the importance of thinking positively...I have no doubt that this is crucial but at least for me isn't the complete picture. Because I have been going through this now for 5 years (longer than some but a drop in the ocean for others I know) I just feel I need a different tack really. What I have noticed, and I suppose this is a common theme, is that when things are good or even OK then I feel optimistic and hopeful but as soon as I'm challenged by the pain again that is when it all goes wrong and I revert to type and have the fear and catastrophic thoughts flooding back in.

    One common thing for me, and this relates to the above I suppose, is that I don't really bring consistency to how I deal with my symptoms. I am now coming round to the idea that for those unfortunate enough not to get a quick knowledge cure then consistency really is going to be a huge thing but of course this is incredibly difficult to do a 24/7 basis when in the grip of fear. As I alluded to in my original post it does feel like I need to actually embrace a totally new and different way of dealing with my mind and body and this in itself is a daunting process.
  8. Ryan

    Ryan Well known member


    You are at a crossroads in your healing and don't know what direction to go. You can win this battle but you have to change your relationship with the fear.

    Fear in life can drain you, it did it to me. It was a cycle that I struggled with but you can overcome this. Everything is going to be ok no matter how bad it seems. If you keep fearing the symptoms when they come and obsess over them, they will continue. Empower yourself over the fear and don't let the symptoms/fear run your life.

    I know the feeling of being lost and hopeless, but there is something inside of you that is pushing you to become greater or you would not be here. Find your purpose in life we all have one. My real healing did not come til I surrendered my life and accepted what is. To truly live in the present moment and know life will not give me more than I can handle.

    You have what it takes inside you to heal. Dont know if your a spiritual person but asking whom ever your higher power may be for guidance and acceptance is powerful.

    I belive you are on to something by that last phase you typed. Keep at it, let go and live life. Live each day as if it were your last. Wishing you the best of luck and hope you turn the corner. Leave you with in of my favorite quotes, we are what we believe.

    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Huckleberry. I echo Ryan and Jan in encouraging you to stand up to fear.
    I watched the Ken Burns documentary about The Roosevelts last week and
    among the quotes that resonated with me was Eleanor Roosevelt's during the
    dark days of World War II when she said:
    "Courage is more exhilarating than fear."

    Few of us ever really, totally, give in to fear, but when pain persists we can loose heart,
    at least at times. That's when we need to feed our minds positive mantras like
    "I can do this. It's a piece of cake." That's one of my favorites, along with
    "Every day, in every way, I'm feeling better and better." That, together with
    deep diaphramic breathing, relaxes me and gives me confidence that I will be well.

Share This Page