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Day 8 Resume All Physical Activity: The flip side

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by emilyp, Aug 30, 2020.

  1. emilyp

    emilyp New Member

    Hello amazing TMS community. Everything I have been reading in this forum continues to both humble me and give me hope that I’m on the right path to recovering from 10 years of chronic back
    pain. I’ve never been one to engage much in forums like this, so the simple act of posting is helping me get out of my comfort zone and overcome some of my insecurities/ fear of rejections/ perfectionist tendencies etc.

    I’m a week into the structured recovery program and felt compelled to write a post about my relationship with exercise and physical activity.

    While I get the sense from Dr Sarno’s suggestion to “resume all physical activity” that a lot of chronic pain sufferers stop being active do to their symptoms. I think I’ve struggled with the exact opposite...I’ve been active, an athlete my whole life...and over the years, have developed what I think I would call an exercise addiction or dependence...nothing anyone from the outside would view as unhealthy...but the more the program has helped me explore some Of my conditioned thought patterns and tendencies, the more I realize my mindset towards exercise has not come from a place of self compassion and self care. Over the past two years, I have been obsessed with fixing my physical symptoms. I’ve struggled with extreme lower back and nerve pain, my sciatica and numbness left my dragging my
    Left leg around for three months. Yet through it all, I remained extremely committed to exercise and physical therapy...to the point where my guilt if I missed a day, was almost as debilitating as the pain itself. I had spinal Surgery in January and was exercising again within days of my surgery.

    So, part of my process in working through this program has been to attempt to shift my deep rooted attitudes towards exercise and physical activity. Stopping all of my physical therapy home exercises has been a major challenge, but super helpful in attempting to shift my mindset. Starting to be aware of my emotional attachments to Exercise and attempting to move my body from a place of enjoyment and self love, vs a place of fear (ie fear of getting fat or unfit) has been one of my biggest challenges so far. But I can sense a change is underway, and I’m really excited and proud to see it happening.

    If anyone else has struggled with the flip
    Side of “resume all physical activity”...I would love to hear from you!!!
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi emilyp,

    I love reading your post because I think you're seeing deeply into part of your experience of "Tension" down deep. You see the ways you've pushed yourself to perform or live up to, or even heal. This is a great start, and as you go further you may get more in touch with the self-identity which is fueling this non-attuned behavior. In any case you're seeing the non-loving way you treat yourself. And you're seeing the pushed part of yourself perhaps too. Compassion for all of this will come.

    So you already have a lot of information about what can be causing symptoms. As you learn, and whether or not anything much changes personality-wise or you learn to love yourself more (I think you will!) you already have huge information to "unlearn" your symptoms by simply knowing their real source. Every time you notice a symptom, gently ---and I mean gently without self-judgement or need to fix yourself---- connect this symptom to what you're learning about your inner workings, how this fits with Dr. Sarno's theories. This is "thinking psychologically." Your awareness will set you free.

  3. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    " If I am supposed to take two, then FOUR will be even better, right?" - My internal reasoning machine

    I had nigh your same exact symptoms when I got to Sarno in '99. I used to be very athletic, but I had been reduced to a sorry state by TMS. I wanted to get well, so of course I did everything the PT people told me to do... and then some.... but all of that laying around on ice and putting my legs up had made me really overweight.... and my legs were really atrophied.

    After reading HBP I went back to activity, hard, BUT I discontinued every single exercise and modality that I had been taught to 'strengthen my core' and went back to plain old weight lifting, bike riding and baseball.... all of my faves'. I was never 'careful'. Ditched the weight belt (that was tough.) and even had a few accidents...fell off my bike, got drilled in the back with pitches,etc...all pain free, because like you I looked on the INSIDE.

    I am compulsive. I have Not changed. They opened up a new batting cage down the street last week,and I have been there every single day until my hands have been raw and bruised. I always want to be better (I am 55 this month).... I did not have to stop my compulsivity, But I discovered that most of it is rooted in not thinking I am ever good enough. I am never strong enough, fit enough, and I fear being rejected. And some times that fear even comes true! BUT I have remained pain free for two decades by doing what you did there...

    Better than perfect. The only thing I'd add is that you don't have to get 'there'... there is no 'there'. Just like your pain will go away that voice will lose volume . The same attitude of disdain Sarno encouraged us to have towards the pain will be how you feel about that voice.
    The process of self inspection itself has been sufficient to keep me pain free all of this time. You will have satori's and learn new things about yourself. You will have definitive moments of 'wow... I am OK'...and those are priceless.

    With that attitude you will never lose.

  4. emilyp

    emilyp New Member

    Thank you so much for the replies @Baseball65 and @Andy Bayliss ...means so much. I am still a bit in awe that I can right something so personal, and get such thoughtful responses from strangers. Thank you!
    Baseball65 likes this.
  5. oridge

    oridge Newcomer

    Emilyp I resonated so deeply with your feeling about physical activity. For the past four years I have been dealing with chronic back pain and also have been extremely physical despite it. I have always had an unhealthy relationship with working out and it has always gone unaddressed because it was easy to hide. Others think I'm physical because I love it ( which I do) but it is much more than that. Like you, another huge part of me needing to be physical is my fear. the fear of what I would be if I gave up on physical activity is anxiety inducing.

    I am wondering if you have been able to figure out ways to cope with this? I just started learning about TMS this past week and I feel like my whole world has been flipped. I had similar thoughts upon reading that I was supposed to resume all physical activity, because I never stopped!

    Thank you for sharing your story, it was encouraging to hear that I am not the only person struggling with this.
  6. emilyp

    emilyp New Member

    @oridge thanks so much for sharing!

    I think one of the biggest messages/ takeaways for me so far in all the TMS exploration I am doing is that fear/ anxiety are the main drivers of my thoughts and behaviors. So for the past few weeks, I have been playing with some of the following as it relates to physical activity and exercise:
    1) Honesty with myself about my intentions: as you mentioned, relationships with exercise and physical activity are very personal...and the first step for me has been reevaluating my drivers to stay so active...and realizing that while I also love it, a lot of it is wrapped up in fear and anxiety
    2) Setting intentions before I workout...reminding myself which feelings/emotions I want to lean into during a workout session (i.e. the positive physical sensations, the joy, the music, the gratitude for movement....not the fear and anxiety thoughts (ie. am i going hard enough, is this long enough, my back is hurting etc)
    3) Baby steps towards conquering some of my fears...This has been about trying something i didn't think I could do and realizing that my fear about what could happen, didnt actually happen...ie. Forcing myself to not to work out on days where I normally would, or getting out of a specific workout habit/routine I have relied on (i.e. less cardio)

    I don't know if these thoughts will be at all helpful for you...But please do feel free to share as you navigate through your own relationship with this stuff! Would love to hear.
  7. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I love your learning emilyp!
    emilyp likes this.
  8. tmsthrowaway05

    tmsthrowaway05 Peer Supporter

    Great post, im on day 8 now and am 26 y/o male with 19 months of chronic upper back/neck/shoulder pain. It's really horrible and I have similar thoughts as you in terms of fear and anxiety and especially 24/7 worrying about fixing my pain, lmao. It's soo bad I'm in my own head all day and the small times I'm not the pain goes down which convinces me more its tms. I can be out with people and if it's a good vibe my anxiety and pain are f***ing gone, it really is crazy how strong the brain and mind are. I'm sorry you've had to deal with this... did the surgery help? TMS is great to know about and I'm thankful, shocked, and interested BUT combining TMS with real pain syndromes can be extremely confusing, what I mean by this is when the pain is so bad you're thinking "ok I know about tms but what if I really have a problem?". I loved sarnos book and saw myself in every page, and I like how he says forget about all other pain syndromes, fixes, etc. but I am always a bit unsure of what to believe.

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