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Slow to Complete Assignments but Still Progressing

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by KM108, Jul 28, 2020.

  1. KM108

    KM108 New Member

    I don't know if anyone else has had this issue, but I have found it very difficult to keep on track with my daily assignments, due to a lot of emotions surfacing (some with no words or images, just feelings) ever since I started this program. I was supposed to write Day 6 about 8 days ago, and I just got through the journaling assignment tonight (except for the Question to Ponder section). However, I actually wrote for 40 minutes straight.

    I also started questioning if I should be doing this deep journaling, if I also have issues with PTSD. I don't want to open up to something I can't handle outside of therapy sessions. However, the thing is that I'm usually very in touch with my feelings, and I believe I am aware of 95% of the traumas I've been through, except possibly some from a very early age. I decided that maybe my brain was just trying to put me into fear to keep the status quo/pain, and I told myself that maybe it is OK if I skip some days to take time to FEEL my feelings that are coming up, rather than force myself to journal each day. I also need to maintain balance for my family, and especially my 2 year old son, so it's not always convenient to write and experience all these emotions each day. I guess it's okay to take this in stages. I don't want to instill self-limiting beliefs about how I must heal, but I also want to hold myself accountable for doing the work. I'm just wondering if others are having similar concerns.

    I have been having several insights since starting the program, despite being slow to complete assignments. I read the profile for characteristics that TMSer tend to have, and I do fit to a T with the way Dr. Schubiner describes it, but less so of a post by another contributor (can't remember which one) that I read as part of an assignment... the aspects of needing to show I am perfect to others didn't quite fit. I'm hard on myself but don't need to show this outwardly as much (such as how I dress or the car I drive, etc.). Still, a LOT has been coming up on how damning others have been when I showed my feelings as a child, right into adulthood. I've also suffered from a lot of bullying growing up, even in the workforce (especially by highly competitive and/or domineering people).

    In turn, these events have made me very self-critical about showing my own anger or any other "negative emotion" like sadness or fear (even when I can fully feel them). When I do show my feelings, I often get punished, no matter how valid the feelings may be. So my life has been about hiding my feelings - not from myself (I'm well-aware of how I feel) - but from showing them outwardly. I feel ashamed when I can't contain them and others witness them, because of the punishment or judgment I receive. So I think this is why they never get processed. I can feel them, but I can't work through or release them, and I wind up dwelling in those states until I can finally shove them down just to survive the day. That then leads to them bubbling up when it is most inconvenient and embarrassing to do so, and the result is a shame storm. Oddly enough, though there is a part of me that says that it is wrong to show "negative" emotions, another part is always fighting against that conditioning. So there has been an internal struggle inside for years, which I think is a main driver of my pain and other symptoms.

    For instance, I once fired a past therapist who didn't want to hear me talk about something that made me angry (something very stressful at work). She told me it was not appropriate and people don't LIKE angry people, because it makes them uncomfortable, and that I needed to change. She then recounted how she used to be an angry person and had change herself so that she wouldn't frighten people. I honestly got furious and called her out for denying me access to process my feelings because she has labeled them as "bad". She was an art therapist who taught Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) and should have known better in my opinion! In that moment, she decided that I could only discuss my anger if I were willing to DRAW it, rather than discuss it verbally. I walked out and eventually found a new therapist who let me talk about anger or anything else I needed to discuss.

    So, I realize that there IS some part of me that knew, even ages ago (this happened in 2008), that I had a right to feel my emotions and wasn't going to allow someone to shame me for having them (it was really HER issue, not mine). Yet, it's only since I started this program that I've been able to actually claim my emotions and allow myself to feel them, without shame. After all, this is me nurturing myself, and its not about being destructive with emotions, but just allowing myself to FEEL. When I told my current therapist about this, she said that she's seeing images of those emoji's where bolts of lightening are flying out of their heads because she was so happy to hear me say this. She'd always tried to get me to go into the feelings, and I'd pull back and intellectualize or rationalize or change topics. I feel I'm on the right track, finally. I just am still waiting to have some relief from the pain... however, I'm trying not to make that a priority. I think my feelings need an ally, not someone who wants to change them just so I can feel better. I just need to keep diving in and be there for the parts of myself who have had no voice for so long.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi KM108,

    Great update! I sense a gentleness in your work, a trust that things will unfold, and with this, a great devotion to your true experience. Feeling things is not easy, as we all know, ---that is feeling is not easy without the overlay of self-judgement and shame, or the inner conflicts that you describe so well. I think of these conflicts, say between what you feel vs what you show others, as a sort of Tension, as in TMS.

    I think it can be very powerful in your work to attribute your symptoms to ---at least for now, the very simple deep understanding which you express above. This playing out inside is a form of tension-hell which is all you need to know to explain why symptoms are there. You may never need to know more than this, except to see this tension play out in real time again and again, and connect this play to your symptoms as the cause. And with this, in love for yourself, also treat this dynamic with as much kindness and understanding as possible. Congratulations on your work.

  3. KM108

    KM108 New Member

    Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement, Andy. I really appreciate you taking the time to read all this and share your insights!
  4. ssxl4000

    ssxl4000 Well known member

    Howdy...I would argue it is more than okay, I think it is necessary sometimes. Certainly don't worry if you need breaks. Severe pain and symptoms usually come from severely difficult stress that is very hard to deal with. Just make sure you have some sort of way to keep yourself accountable so that you do come back to the exercises. Part of going through the program with some regularity is making it a habit to think about your pain emotionally instead of physically. You want to carry that lesson with you forever, and not just stop it once the 40 days are up. A few other notes from my experience going through the SEP:

    1- Some times I would save a journal exercise that I knew would be difficult for the morning of or day before I had a therapy session.
    2- I took some short breaks (think I did the program in about 50 days), but I probably should have taken more. Once I discovered the anger I had repressed towards my wife and daughter, it really freaked me out. Having all of that negative energy flooding through my mind made me edgy around them, and easily irritated. Even though nothing truly bad came of it, I probably should have worked on getting back to a baseline emotionally before moving on to other journal topics.
    3- After experiencing the above, I wrote a happy list (things I like about myself, my life, my family...) and reviewed it after journaling to try to switch my mindset out of angry journaling mode and back to a more normal state.

    Overall, it sounds like you are doing a great job at tackling this hard work. Keep it up!
  5. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi KM,

    I agree so much with what ssxl4000 has shared, and advised. Seeing the stress the deeper journaling dives evoke in you is also fuel for your simple understanding of the source of symptoms. In other words, there is little to be fixed, and much to be gently understood.

    I also thought to recommend, based on your post, the book Soul Without Shame, by Byron Brown. This explores the superego and how to work with it, with a method similar to what I teach clients. Your "shame storms" have me thinking this book might be good for you.

  6. KM108

    KM108 New Member

    Thanks, ssxl4000... your post is really helpful! I have had some a lot of sensitivity around my husband with all the emotions that are surfacing, and this step sounds really useful for getting more balanced after doing a journaling session. Thank you for your encouragement and advice!
  7. KM108

    KM108 New Member

    That's a great way of explaining it, Andy... it's a relief to know that having some understanding and caring for myself is what's needed, rather than to be constantly "working the problem" like I've done for years. I will have to check out the Byron Brown book... thanks so much!

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