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Day 17 status report

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Dan76, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. Dan76

    Dan76 Newcomer

    It's day 17 of my SEP today. A few days after starting the SEP a glimpse of hope arose when I noticed a slight feeling of relaxation in my lower back. Unfortunately it was not persistent (maybe because I was thinking about my pain level and my healing progress too often).

    I must admit that I haven't really managed to realize the benefits of journaling so far. When I do my daily journaling It kind of reminds me of doing my homework at the times I went to school. After journaling I feel like "Yeah, I'm through with it for today." and sometimes "I wonder if that really served any purpose."

    I haven't experienced any supressed emotions being revealed by journaling yet. When reading other stories I sometimes think my worst childhood memories do not even come close to what other sufferers have experienced. Not in the least have I experienced something like abuse, divorce, serious illness or death of a close friend or family member. I think I have to focus more on the present than on the past.

    Another point that keeps my occupied: I haven't experienced emotionally driven flare-ups (at least I haven't recognized them as being emotionally driven). My pain level has been pretty steady for over 8 years now. The flare-ups I sometimes experience are always generated by action, e.g. sports, gardening, sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress. And to keep up my basic pain level it's enough to just sit or stand (while expecting that sitting or standing is painful).

    Is ist possible that my biggest problem is conditioning?
  2. SunnyinFL

    SunnyinFL Well known member

    Hi Dan,

    I found your post interesting in several ways. The fact that after starting the SEP and you felt your lower back relax sounds like an important realization. Maybe reminding yourself of that initial success could help you continue to have hope that your healing will come - in its own time, of course. And, your spot on about focusing on your pain and monitoring your progress - both tend to fuel more symptoms and undermine progress. Of course, it's not easy to ignore the pain or monitor your progress; but, if you could try to shift and think psychological instead it would likely help you move further forward.

    I can relate to your comments about journaling, too. Similar to your recollection of homework, journaling tends to shift me into left-brained work mode. So, I tried some different approaches and found that I made more progress when I made "webs." If you're not familiar with that, it means to write an issue or stressor or feeling in a circle, draw lines out to connected thoughts, circle those, draw lines out to other thoughts, circle those, etc., until you've filled a piece of paper with what looks like a web.

    To answer your question, yes, conditioning is common and it could be a roadblock for you. If so, there are many techniques that you can do to extinguish your conditioned responses. There is a good blog post about this, and how to reverse or extinguish triggers, at:
    In addition, almost all of the mind-body books address this issue. For example, Dr. Sarno's Mindbody Prescription, Chapter 3.

    I hope you'll find some of these ideas useful to you. Good luck! Sunny
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Dan. I like Sunny's reply. Maybe try the triggers blog she suggests.

    Journaling can be stressful but it helped me and a lot of other people. But you may not have any repressed emotions causing TMS pain. If you do, maybe it does come from something in the present, although that can trigger something hidden in the past.

    It's okay to journal for 10 or 20 minutes and then be glad it's over for the day. Then treat yourself to something that gives you pleasure. And try to make the rest of the day as happy as possible. Be sure to journal in the morning or afternoon, not at night or it might keep you awake.

    I hope you will join the mindfulness meditation session starting Oct. 1 for a month. It's free and you could learn a lot about the benefits of living int he present.
    SunnyinFL likes this.
  4. Dan76

    Dan76 Newcomer

    SunnyinFL, Walt, thank you both for your advice.
    I'll give the web technique a try. And I'll definitely work on my triggers and try to stay patient.
    I've already signed in for the mindfulness meditation session. And to be prepared I bought a meditation beginners guide the other day because I have absolutetly no experience with meditation so far. But I think meditating could be a good next step on my road to a pain free life.
    SunnyinFL likes this.
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Dan. I think we all will benefit by the mindfulness meditation session.
    I found some good mindfulness videos on YouTube. I especially like Michael Sealey video
    "Guided Meditation for Detachment of Over-Thinking." It is 42 minutes and he has a very soothing voice,
    suggesting we focus on breathing while listening and watching it. It is quite hypnotic, and relaxing.
  6. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi All,

    I think meditation is a great idea. Don't go into meditation with the notion that it will heal you, make you smarter, etc etc Otherwise you will be setting your self up for failure. However, research does show mindfulness meditation can have benefits if practiced for 8 weeks, or more.

    It's actually better to be mindful and have no expectations, or demands apart from knowing that it will help you become aware of your emotions and allow you to let go without passing judgement.

    Like anything, the more we practice meditation, it will allow us to easily become more authentic in our being.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2015
    SunnyinFL likes this.
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Dan - you raise some interesting issues. One of them is your perception (a very common one!) that you don't have any deep emotional issues that would cause TMS. I've got a few responses for you - and I can assure you that I had what anyone would describe as a completely normal and secure childhood with no trauma, no divorce, no substance abuse, and no emotional or physical abuse. I also initially thought that I had nothing to journal about.

    1. The thing is, the mechanism by which TMS causes pain or other symptoms, is universal to all humans. It is part of a survival mechanism which our brains evolved in order to keep us alert, rather than wallowing in shame, guilt, and anger. Our brains learned to automatically repress those feelings. And, in moments when we weren't constantly fighting for survival, when we were in danger of obsessing about those feelings, our brains would simply create some kind of pain symptom to distract us.

    Our brains think they are doing us a favor, because they still think we should be constantly alert and scanning the horizon for danger (think about how true this is the next time you are driving). This worked quite well for the short period of time when we only had to survive long enough to breed and raise the next generation. But in the modern world, when the majority of us live very safe lives, for many many years, this constant negative alertness wears us down, and the continuous repression of emotions just keeps building up and eventually the symptoms overwhelm us.

    2. Freud really did know what he was talking about when he focused on the small child in our unconscious psyches. As children, we universally experience anger, disappointment, guilt, and shame - and these feelings are all learned within our family relationships. Every child experiences anger at having to share our parents' attention with anyone or anything else, we have anger at leaving the safety of home to go to school, anger at having to grow up and take on responsibility. And children constantly experience guilt and shame - that also seems to be built in to our psyches. Our brains start repressing all of these things, and often our parents help (in my family, with four kids, expressing anger was not acceptable - too chaotic, I imagine - and both of my parents were very emotionally controlled themselves - as were their parents). These behaviors certainly do translate to our adult lives, and affect our adult relationships with other human beings, and eventually with our own children.

    3. The next time you are doing a writing exercise for the SEP - or if you were to go back to one of the list exercises, I am going to suggest that you really listen to what is going on in your head as you quickly write things down. At any time, did your brain convince you that something wasn't important enough to write down? Or even that something was too embarrassing to write down, and really not that important anyway? I would be very surprised if that was not the case. And you know what's coming next - those are the things you need to write down and examine. In my case, I heard those messages, and I forced myself to write those things down anyway. When I examined them later, they were not necessarily pleasant, and most of them were a little embarassing, BUT they were very revealing about who I was, what my fears were, how I felt around other people, etc etc etc, when I was a child. They were not at all earth-shattering or even traumatic. But they allowed me to get in touch with my much younger child, and all of her insecurities. And something inside of me softened, and gave way, and I was big step closer to recovery.

    4. In terms of current stresses, another thing I found very useful in examining my relationship to the things that happen every day is the theory behind Existential Psychology/Psychotherapy. EP states that humans have four core issues and that we react to the world and to others based on one of more of those issues. The issues are Freedom, Isolation (or Abandonment), Meaning, and Mortality. Abandonment is huge, but it's often unacknowledged, because it seems selfishly childish. But the little child is always with us, and it needs to be acknowledged and comforted.

    Mindfulness will help with all of this, because you have to be able to turn off the constant negative chatter in your head in order to feel and hear what is really going on, and to be able to talk to your inner child.

    Knowing the presenters who will be doing the Mindfulness Summit (less than a week!) self-love and acceptance will also be a big part of what we will learn - another huge requirement for recovery, especially for us perfectionists ;)
    SunnyinFL and mike2014 like this.

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