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Self-absorption as a TMS personality trait

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Ellen, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think that self-absorption is a common TMS personality trait that doesn't receive as much discussion as some of the other traits like perfectionism and goodism, yet I believe it plays in big role in TMS. If I remember my Sarno correctly he discusses this characteristic, but labels it as narcissism. Personally, I feel self-absorption is a more accurate label. Maybe I just don't want to think of myself of a narcissist.

    Our culture encourages self-absorption and self-evaluation through our common greetings of "how are you?", "how's your day going?", "how's life treating you", etc. As a TMSer I spend way too much time thinking about how I'm doing and how my life is going. This tendency to constantly be evaluating myself leads to frequent internal dialogue around the likes of "how am I feeling today? am I having a good day, week, year...life?, should I be accomplishing more today, this week, at this stage in my life? am I doing as well as my friends, siblings?," and on and on......

    No one and no thing can withstand that kind of scrutiny, especially with the negativity bias that neuroscience tells us we have.

    This is why I am frequently giving the advice on this Forum for TMS sufferers to work on shifting their attention away from themselves--to other people, animals, nature, absorbing activities, music, etc. And I have to tell myself often throughout the day, "Stop thinking and evaluating (judging) yourself, your life. Just live it. Just be." This has been very important in my recovery.

    A certain amount of self-reflection and introspection is needed in the recovery of TMS as we explore and discover our underlying emotions, internal conflicts, thinking and behavior patterns that fuel our TMS. But this needs to be limited to certain amount of time each day, or it will just fuel our TMS instead of helping us overcome it. More is not always better in this case.

    So my advice is to shift your attention outside yourself--there is a whole world out there. Explore. Be curious and playful. This can be done even with your TMS symptoms tagging along for the ride.
    Anne Walker, Ines, lina82 and 6 others like this.
  2. MWsunin12

    MWsunin12 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ellen, I think this is right on. Appreciating the reminder.

    A dose of volunteer work is always a wake-up call for me.

    Author and medical intuitive, Caroline Myss, says to let go of our "woundology." Leading into everyday with what's wrong…or meeting new people and explaining your "wounds." She's an interesting author. One of her books: Why People Don't Heal and How They Can is definitely worth a look, or a check-out at the library.
    Ines, mike2014, Tennis Tom and 2 others like this.
  3. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Really pleased you bring this up. I think it's an important factor that hasn't been discussed enough.
  4. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member

  5. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

  6. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ellen, I think you've hit the nail on the head. I had a chat with Dad last weekend and we spoke about tms and he said it sounded like inverted selfishness. We couldn't think of a defining term that fitted but you've found it.

    Maybe it's a part of the recovery process, and perhaps after disregarding ourselves for much of our lives, we swing too far the other way.

    I don't have much time to reply now but thanks for this.
  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is a great point. I like Caroline Myss, particularly her early work and her thoughts on woundology have occurred to me at times when reading some posts. It's a crazy kinda intimacy.
  8. Mala

    Mala Well known member

    Ellen u r right.

    Mindfulness is a very useful tool in helping with self absorption. When u r mindfully doing something, u develop a focus which leads to curiosity in the task at hand. This leaves less room for thinking about yrself & all the monkey chatter which is usually also self centred.

    Shifting attention from one's self to others is a great idea but first we have to develop self compassion- like being compassionate about not reaching those perfectionist unrealistic goals we set for ourselves. We can't give what we don't have.

    Charity begins at home as do self worth & compassion

  9. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think part of this "narcissism" might be described as "negative narcissism" in the sense that there is negative self talk, fear about whether we measure up. Another term I heard years ago which is great, and might apply in this discussion is "negative grandiosity" which refers to the feeling/belief that "I am truly the worst, most f-cked person that I know." It does not feel narcissistic or grandiose as we experience it, but we can see the self-centeredness with a little examination, as you suggest Ellen...
    mike2014 likes this.
  10. fbcoach

    fbcoach Peer Supporter

    I agree. This was a very well-thought-out post. At times when I have become a little pessimistic or depressed, I have always gotten myself out of it quickly by reminding myself I am becoming too self-absorbed. For me, this is tied in with my perfectionism. This is definitely a TMS trait.
    Huckleberry and Ellen like this.
  11. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle


    A dash of neuroscience to season the pot...

    Given tms undoubtedly jacks up the sympathetic branch of the nervous system making our brains rowdy and self-referential, it makes complete sense that once we begin to calm the noise, relax and bring the parasympathetic into play, we also turn on a social engagement system which in turn leads to affiliations that soothe. This creates harmony and supportive relationships which further nurture the parasympathetic branch.

    This forum is a superb demonstration of how this can work. Out of cyberspace and back on terra firma this profoundly nurturing vibe can be enhanced by physical contact; a hug, a kind touch, holding hands...all actions which stimulate the release of oxytocin, the hormone of warmth, trust, bonding and love.

    I think it would do all us good to get past ourselves and our pain by showing a lot more love and engaging in a lot more physical affection. It's a conscious choice between feeding the wolf of love or the wolf of hate.

    Forest has written on this:

    for words:

    http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/feeding-the-wolf-vs-lancing-the-boil.320/ (Feeding the wolf vs. lancing the boil)

    For pictures (sorry but I don't know how to link to a particular comment so scroll down).

    http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/overdoing-feeling-the-feelings.12706/ (Overdoing feeling the feelings)
    mike2014, MWsunin12 and Ellen like this.
  12. fridaynotes

    fridaynotes Well known member

    this is an incisive observation and undoubtedly true.
  13. Huckleberry

    Huckleberry Well known member


    I know for me that when I am in pain or even if I'm stuck in that horrible loop of dwelling upon and over catastrophizing symptoms my way of being has to been to lash out and sort of want to pass on my suffering and unhappiness to those around me. I know this is truly awful and it is horrible to admit but it basically became my default way of being.

    When I contemplate why I feel compelled to act like this I have come up with a couple of 'excuses' or reasons which revolve around the beliefs such as if I don't show my pain and anger then those around me will think I'm ok which to me isn't the case. I also feel that if I start to become close and loving to people then if I was to receive a terrible diagnosis or whatever then it would be so much harder...I think this ties in with a fear starting to enjoy life as once you do this you set yourself up for a fall (magical thinking).

    I actually often feel like a wounded animal at times. It appears to me a wounded animal doesn't seek company, love or a closer interaction with its kind but rather it often takes itself off to a dark corner and just slinks there licking it wounds becoming more and more isolated and insular.

    I'm unsure if this all relates to the idea of being unable to show emotions. I fall into this camp of people and whilst I internally feel emotion I do find myself either being unwilling, unsure or even unable to externally express the emotion...once again I feel that an external expression would maybe make me more weak, vulnerable or would somehow set me up for a fall in some shape or form. To be honest anger is the only emotion I express and it has almost become like expressing that emotion has come to define me.

    Your post is interesting and I can see how important it is to remove ourselves from the constant fixation on our body noise, symptoms and also our own needs and desires which we elevate far too highly over those of our loved ones. Even though we feel emotions maybe the fact we become so unwilling to show them also serves to set us up for TMS and stress illness.
    Ellen likes this.
  14. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    We are animals who think too much and feel too little. When a creature is actually wounded it does repair to a safe place to lick wounds and heal but it never ever feels sorry for itself. Only humans descend into self-pity.

    Why are you so afraid of vulnerability?
    Do you really think holding your people at a distance will make a terrible diagnosis ok?

    From experience I can assure you that move misses the target. At some point during such an ordeal you will pull your loved ones close and you will cherish them like never before.

    I used to dance and I remember after a performance as I left the stage how I was flushed with a visceral feeling that translates as faith and confidence that made me exclaim that "now I am ready to perform." This was vexing. Why couldn't I shake the stagefright and go on with brimming assurance.

    Because life is not like that. It is absurd and vulnerability *is* the price. We have to show up and do our thing irrespective of our fears, anxieties and uptightness.

    God alone knows I have been a poster child for the crabby, peevish and cantankerous (sounds like a firm of solicitors) but I was pulled up short one day when my partner said "I am sick of feeling like you blame me for your pain".

    I felt like a capital ****.

    Did you know the thing women dislike most in bed is feeling that their man is emotionally absent? This holds for life too. You wouldn't believe the shells we place around our hearts.

    As wretched as tms is it does gift us with the choice to live courageously (literally from the heart), or to carry on stuffing it all down. It is the hero's journey.

    Huckleberry I love your posts and your humour and I am writing these words with much kindness and love.
    Ellen and mike2014 like this.

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