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Tensive thinking

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by tor, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. tor

    tor New Member

    I can't seem to find any related stories of this type of TMS. I haven't seen it describe either. It might just be my experience and description of it that is wrong. This is how I see it now.

    My muscles are really tense, but moments of insight and clarity has lead me to some insight on how tension is developed. I have even been in a half-meditative state where I could observe the type of thinking that directly lead to tensing: and then make it this awful thinking process obsolete whenever it occurred.

    Mainly its the muscle and or fascia tension that causes me to be unable to think clearly. When its at 50% intensity can almost get the math formula worked out in my head, when its at 80%, I have no clue what I'm looking at, even though I half a minute before had a complete understanding of it. Mostly I'm at about 80%.
    When I have almost zero percent tension in my body I will feel pain in my lower back, or ass. Or a slight pain in my neck. But the pain is not a problem for me. I can live with this pain. Even though if I obsess on it.

    When I have managed to observe myself and how the tension is developed, I would describe its building up something like this.

    I will give the process which I think is causing the tensing of my neck, face and back the name "tensive thinking", because when it is directing my thoughts it tenses some muscles in my face at the same exact time the thought appears. (This is seldom apparent to me, because in a mind-state of high tension, I cannot differentiate this thought and the appliance of tension from the tension I am experiencing.) So a thought being directed by tensive thinking, for example when it tells me to move my head, would come with the tensing of face and neck.
    This type of thinking feels like a correctional state, or that its there to correct my behavior in any manner. And I think it might be linked with a type of perfectionistic thought pattern I cannot seem to be able to take control over. Because I can still vaguely remember how it was to be me without the tensive thinking. And thats where I think my tensive thinking wants me to go. Only it doesn't help me to go there at all. It just makes me tense whenever it tries to make me do something.
    It will also kick in and tell me to all kinds of things to think about, or stop thinking about, or thoughts that aren't as good as they used to be.
    The tensive thinking will slowly add up the tension by increments, the increments can be big and small, but in the end they add up to massive tension that is totally mind debilitating. Right now I'm having some clarity. And I think this description is fairly accurate of how I perceive it to be working.

    Any insight? Thank you!
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hello Tor:

    It seems to me that you have answered your own question, because you already recognize that your mind is doing this to you, by directing your thoughts in ways that are not healthy.

    Dr. Sarno and many other TMS/PPD practitioners believe that some disorders of the mind, including anxiety, depression, and OCD, could well be TMS "equivalents" because they serve the same purpose as pain, which is to distract our conscious mind from what our brains perceive as crippling emotions. Kind of a chicken-and-egg problem, though, isn't it? Unfortunately, such disorders are difficult to overcome, because there's a vicious cycle going on - the anxiety ramps up other symptoms, causing more anxiety, which causes more symptoms, which causes even more anxiety, and on and on. And I've been there.

    If I'm reading you correctly, it sounds like you've got a negative and self-limiting internal dialogue going on which you feel you are unable to stop or change. Your awareness is the good news. There are methods for changing your internal dialogue and negative self-talk. A good therapist could give you the insight as well as the tools you need to do this. If you don't have access to an appropriate therapist, you'll have to find other resources on your own. Since I don't know where you are in your TMS journey, I'm going to assume that you've only read Dr Sarno at this point, so the three resources that I suggest are:

    1. The two Alan Gordon webinars that we sponsored this summer. Alan worked live with several participants, and really illustrated the role of the "internal bully" that we all have. Both webinars are available here on the forum:

    June 9 webinar - this is in the form of a "static" video clip, but it's only audio. It takes a while to load, be patient.
    July 21 webinar - Forest posted a downloadable mp3 here

    2. A small book by Dr. Claire Weekes, Hope & Help for Your Nerves, where she describes many different symptoms of nervous disorders, and offers a a series of steps for learning to get past them.

    3. The (free) Structured Educational Program on our wiki, which leads you to different resources related to TMS, and encourages you to make lists, to journal, and to reflect on various questions. It also introduces practices such as affirmations, which can help break the internal dialogues that you're experiencing,

    If you are beyond these, for example, if you've already completed Howard Schubiner's workbook (more advanced than our SEP), then an even more advanced practice like The Presence Process might be in order, which addresses mindfulness, teaching you to live in the moment and, again, to rewrite the old internal dialogues that you're currently stuck on.

    Let us know how it goes, Tor.

  3. tor

    tor New Member

    Hi again. I have read hope and help for your nerves, and its an enjoyable read. But its really hard to apply in my case I found. It will bring along relief but not lasting. About the internal bully. I should check that one out again. I have been in a constant search for what is making me tense up, and many times I have thought that I had gotten the solution, because I didn't have any tension left, but it have always ended with it coming back just an hour or two afterwards. But if there is something I will beat it is this. I am so determined that I use almost waking hour I am able to think about it, to think about it.

    I'm almost certain that my OCD also plays a crucial role in my neck tension / pain. But it has been very well hidden because the compulsions have been so hidden behind the brain fog and focus on neck tension. Usually I have no trouble what so ever telling OCD compulsions from normal behaviour. But here its almost impossible.

    My current view shortly explained: I'm a perfectionist in thought, when I get to think and re-experience my older self and how I thought about things I can see that I would omit doing stuff, and would not see myself fit to do stuff before I got order in my life. If it wasn't properly done I wouldn't do it, and if I tried I would rarely be satisfied. My progression to constant muscle tension all happened some years ago, when I saw how hooked I was on sugar, how bad my health was, how bad I was at reading and remembering. So I got really interested in neruoscience and personal transformation. I was going to get all things straight so I could get my life on tracks. I was especially concerned with learning abilities. At the same time I was suffering with OCD and my perfectionist tendencies which I have had since I was a kid became sucked up by my OCD, I think possibly because I didn't have the results with my personal transformation I wanted, and I was getting "out of time". Anyhow, now my OCD is constantly monitoring whatever I'm doing, feeling, thinking - to tell me if I'm doing it according to my standards on effective, healthy thinking. OCD has basically taken control of my perfectionist self, and I find it really hard to take control back. I can still think about stuff while OCD is working in the background checking everything, OCD has almost stopped communicating with words, this process of monitoring making my muscles tense somehow. The solution might be to go to my perfectionism, re-experiencing old beliefs, identifying emotions that drive perfectionism. OCD often occur where I have major concerns, worries and anxieties. But its so hard because the OCD wont shut the heck up and also its almost unidentifiable that it is working in the background monitoring my every wrong move.

    Any suggestions? It would be great if someone here could try to guess where the trouble is, like where is the emotion or feeling responsible for OCD perfectionism occurring, and what emotion or feeling is this most likely to be? UGH, I think I'm close to the solution now. But I think I need to identify it completely. My OCD perfectionism will have control if not.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Tor:

    It's been awhile, and I'm glad you're still working on this, and I want you to give yourself a lot of credit for persevering. That being said, I'm going to suggest that you need to STOP constantly analyzing your situation. Just stop. Now. :D

    I believe that you need to completely change the way you are approaching this. Forest already suggested this, in your other forum post. He said:
    Your OCD is not causing TMS.

    OCD is what Dr. Sarno calls a TMS equivalent. It is a physical and mental activity which distracts you from the deeper emotions. It's an "equivalent" because Dr. Sarno's term "Tension Myositis Syndrome" is specifically focused on the muscles. This is because Dr. Sarno, as a physical rehabilitation doctor, was only seeing people with back, neck, and shoulder pain, so when he first began developing his theory, he was only looking at muscle pain. He later became convinced that our brains create distracting symptoms in other ways, including stomach disorders, headaches, neurological symptoms, anxiety, depression, and yes, OCD.

    As Forest suggested, what you have to do, (and I'm not going to claim it's easy) is to stop obsessing about your symptoms. Treat your symptoms as deserving of no attention or respect, because your brain is just creating them to distract you from really feeling.

    I know from experience that it's really really hard, but I think that you need to start loving and appreciating yourself for your accomplishments, instead of reminding yourself of the ways in which you think you have failed.

    OCD is just a heightened form of anxiety. Anxiety is the result of fear. Fear is a deep emotion, along with rage. You might need to get in touch with your primitive fears, face them, and realize that they are manageable. It's your primitive inner child that is running away from your fear (and quite possibly also has rage about it) and it's also the one beating you up for all kinds of self-perceived failures. Your inner child needs to be nurtured and loved.

    Have you worked on our Structured Educational Program? Doing one section of the SEP every day will give you wider exposure to the concepts of TMS (and equivalents), and you never know, in this work, when you might run into a new approach that really resonates for you. One of the things you will be asked to do is journaling, which can be very powerful if you let go and go deep. Another thing you'll be exposed to is positive self-talk, which is another powerful technique. You can use it to start being kind to yourself - even if you don't believe it at first, it's actually true that just saying something positive can make changes in your brain!

    You also might be interested in Existential Psychotherapy, which examines the "four core issues" of humanity. These are:
    • Mortality
    • Meaning
    • Isolation
    • Abandonment
    By examining how you react to outside triggers in relation to these issues, you can really learn a lot about yourself, at the same time that you realize that everyone faces these same issues, all the time, every day. Dr Peter Zafirides specializes in Existential Psychotherapy, and discusses it on his website and here on the forum (Google him, and look him up in our search box to find his posts).

    Good luck,

    Terry likes this.
  5. tor

    tor New Member

    Thank you for your long and insightful reply. Regarding OCD being an equivalent to TMS. In my case I'm suggesting that I have begun obsessing about something that will cause emotion which furthermore is responsible for muscle tension. So OCD is causing me to uncontrollably focus on an aspect of myself that is sufficient to repress emotions but not the emotion which caused OCD in the first place.

    Actually I have been journaling, and postulating since I started, also lately I have started talking my mind and history out loud, because it gives me another view on it. Thinking positively and being happy is still possible, its just much harder with muscle tension, but it hasn't been able to get me closer to an answer as of yet. I feel there is some kind insight that is right in front of my eyes, but I can't grasp it, something like the lines of true forgiving, you will not be able to experience it before you truly believe it.

    Existential psychotherapy seems legitimate. I was actually reading existential philosophy back some years ago, interesting stuff.
  6. tor

    tor New Member

    Sometimes there is weird things that I am not able to explain. But today when sitting in class I just recited the word expectation (only in norwegian: "forventning") while looking at persons in the classroom, and my body started to stop tensing and for almost 20 minutes I went without any tension until I got home to my flatmates. I just had to repeat the word in my head sometimes. I have no clue what it meant...
  7. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Interesting! What you did, without even knowing it, was to create a mantra for yourself! A mantra is simply a word or phrase or symbol that helps you stop the inner dialogue and be in the present.


    That's good! And now that you know, maybe it will work even better for you!


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