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Alex B. Should I focus on the emotions?

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Eve, Sep 9, 2015.

  1. Eve

    Eve Peer Supporter

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Question on 'thinking psychologically' practically


    Sarno says in his books that we have to think about certain things every day, like painful past event, present stresses, personality traits etc. until the pain stops.

    I have read the book by Nancy Selfridge called "Freedom from Fibromyalgia in 5 weeks", where she implemented the "anger meditation" for two weeks, where one has to go back to an event/memory where you were supposed to feel angry (but didn't) and then she asks us to relive that moment in your head, and really feel, smell and sense that past event and do or say the things you wanted to that person so you can let go of the anger. She tells us to do this until the pain stops.

    Seen that I am not pain free, I'm thinking about these kind of events over & over again, in order to feel the anger or hurt again & again, so that my brain will get it that I'm not afraid of it. So I think & feel the emotions related to a certain memory often more than once because I think that is helpful in the brain retraining.

    Yesterday I read in Steve O's the following, which is the opposite to the above: "venting is not a helpful thing in the long run and is in fact dangerous because it strengthens the roots of anger. Venting is merely replaying or rehearsing your anger. Throwing things and hitting things only exhausts you and fools you into believing your anger is gone, but in fact, it just leaves you too exhausted to be angry. The roots of anger remain buried. Venting can often make you angrier. Venting is conditioning".

    Now my question is: If we think about our past or present hurtful emotions every day until the pain stops, aren't we then reinforcing the emotions?
    Steve got me wondering if it's then still a good idea to rehearse the anger meditation or do faster eft on the memories to release the emotions more than once.
    What is your opinion on that please?
    Thank you
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2015
  2. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Hi Eve, thanks for the question.

    As you read and learn more about mind-body syndrome/TMS you will inevitably encounter differing opinions about how to approach symptoms and their causality. With something as complex and varied as emotions and anger it is almost inevitable that some people will approach it from a different perspective than others. I can share with you my perspective on what you're talking about but I think it's good to remember that this is about finding what works and feels good for you personally.

    Firstly we need to look at the basic motivation. In my experience, if you are actively seeking out unpleasant experiences and emotions as part of a planned attack on y0ur symptoms you will have a lot of difficulty. It will be almost impossible for you not to be constantly monitoring the symptoms, comparing how you feel before vs. after the exercise, etc. In other words, you will be measuring your progress and success using your symptoms as as the yard stick - they are the focus, they are the most important part of the equation. In fact, this ends up reinforcing your symptoms. Remember, symptoms are there to distract and preoccupy you - if you are using them as the metric for your inner work, then you are completely focused on them and they are accomplishing their purpose. When they are accomplishing their purpose there is no reason for symptoms to leave!

    Ideally any investigation of feelings will be driven by a desire to more deeply know and accept yourself, as a way of treating yourself better and having a more full experience of your life. To that end, I usually tell my clients that it is not necessarily essential for them to actively dredge up painful events and go over them time and time again looking for anger. Very often, that will result in the actual roots of the anger remaining elusive - you end up going through the markers of emotion because you feel like you're supposed to, not because of what's really going on. This is why I often tell my clients they that they don't need to seek out feelings of sadness and anger - they will come up in their day to day life and it is far more important to open oneself up to being present with their feelings as they arise rather than pressuring themselves to reinvestigate previous events ad nauseum.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

  3. whitebeach

    whitebeach New Member

    I am having trouble in this area. Since trying to unravel the cause of my pain I have dredged up my childhood/past. This is actually making me feel worse! Can you expand on your statement 'open oneself up to being present with their feelings as they arise '?
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi whitebeach - can you explain what you mean by "feel"? Are you feeling more pain? Or are you feeling (and re-living) old emotions? Or maybe some new emotions, anxiety, or depression?
  5. whitebeach

    whitebeach New Member

    Yes more pain, and also slightly depressed to dwell on my childhood, which wasn't that bad but not great either. How would I know if they are old emotions? There is a part of me that is feeling a bit depressed. I wish there was a simple process to follow. Reading forum posts, other books is a bit overwhelming. It all sounds a lot more complicated after looking at tmswiki!
  6. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Whitebeach,

    Thanks for reaching out and posting on the Forum. I think when we revisit any traumatic event it can be overwhelming and unhealthy to our mind-body.

    Whilst I understand the need to look at past, current and future stressors, I, personally, think it's all really a one time journaling exercise to understand ones behaviour and any unhealthy patterns. I know when I journalled, I ended up following each exercise with a forgiveness statement; showing love, compassion and forgiveness to my inner child. Whether you've done wrong onto someone else, or someone has done wrong onto you, its about finding that safe space where you can let go and forgive yourself. I felt no need to revisit these exercise's, as I, too believe going over old thoughts, behaviour that led to TMS can almost keep one in the perpetual fight or flight cycle. From personal experience, I think its important to pick one program and to work through it thoroughly, a lot of people switch programs etc, I think this can do more harm than good when visiting painful memories, especially when you haven't learnt to forgive and/or let go.

    Since our emotions and behaviours are learned from early childhood, I think, we can safely say it relates to an old emotion, however, it's about how we can be consciously aware of these emotions without acting on, or being judgemental that can have the most profound effect. I have noted from your posts that you have an element of fear, uncertainty and doubt - you will find most of these though, or preconceived ideas that may not happen and only trigger our stress response. Once you can remove these harmful thoughts, healing is possible.

    There was a really interesting interview yesterday with Ruby Wax on the Mindfulness Summit who over came depression using mindfulness techniques.


    I'd also like to add, the symptoms of TMS are a result of a lifetime of doing, I can understand the process of unravelling is long winded, but please learn to be kind, loving and caring to yourself, change is possible, but it takes time.

    Good luck my friend,
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2015
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    If you are feeling an emotion now, it isn't "old". Events from our past may still trigger emotions in the present. I think that is what I learned from journaling. How things that happen in the present trigger emotional responses that cannot be understood unless viewed through the lens of childhood experiences.

    I agree that studying all the different approaches to TMS healing can be overwhelming. But I agree with @mike2014 that we should just pick an approach and follow it through. I think they are all different roads to the same outcome.
    mike2014 likes this.
  8. whitebeach

    whitebeach New Member

    Thanks Mike for your post. What program do you recommend? Dr Schubiner's?
  9. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, that's a great program. Dr Schubiner work book is very accessible and easy to follow, it also comes with a fantastic meditation CD.
  10. whitebeach

    whitebeach New Member

    Thanks, Any other advice?
  11. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    None, other than to think psychologically rather than on the pain, which is just a byproduct of your unprocessed emotions.

    Secondly, be gentle, kind and compassionate to yourself. Try and stay focussed on the present moment and despite any dis-ease, try and find comfort and happiness in your natural surrounds, knowing any discomfort will pass in time.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2015
    whitebeach likes this.
  12. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

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