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The link between job dissatisfaction and TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Shakermaker, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. Shakermaker

    Shakermaker Peer Supporter


    I've been pondering this issue for the last few weeks since I've been on the forum, doing the SEP and reading the Wiki and about the unconscious/inner child.

    I have the feeling that job dissatisfaction must really enrage the unconscious/inner child.

    For instance in my case, my job doesn't match my personal values and interests and it doesn't make use of my strengths, which leads me to have a low level of motivation to grow and develop in this field and causes high stress, especially as there are some very difficult colleagues. I'm basically only in the job because it's a high pay check and good pension. While that is understandable and pragmatic, that must make the unconscious scream right? I can't imagine it cares about pragmatism too much. When thinking about it, it kinda makes me unsurprised that i have so many TMS equivalents.

    I did read somewhere that job dissatisfaction was the highest predictor of back pain becoming chronic.

    It would be good to read other people's thoughts on this.
    Upgrayedd likes this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Early in my TMS journey I learned about a therapy called Existential Psychotherapy, which posits that everything we feel or experience, emotionally, is based on just four core human issues: Freedom, Isolation, Meaning, and Mortality. Any particular negative aspect of our lives might hit on one or more of these issues.

    Job dissatisfaction certainly hits on the issue of Meaning, and also Freedom if you feel like you don't have any other choices. This might give you a place to start as you examine your particular situation.

    I don't always remember about EP, but I've found that it's a great way to jump start a writing/journaling session when I'm at loose ends and can't figure out what's going on with my emotions.
    linnyc87, HattieNC and Shakermaker like this.
  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Very good observation and speculation! TMS is caused by the tension between "what we think we should feel and what we really feel," right? This job issue seems very important to you in your understanding of how/why you have symptoms.
    readytoheal and Shakermaker like this.
  4. Shakermaker

    Shakermaker Peer Supporter

    I guess it is. I think it's a feeling of knowing deep down that it's not what I want to do with my life, but still carrying on with it because I'm scared to give up the pay check and also scared of how I will react to the stress of changing my line of work and my safe routine that I've built up over the years. The job has caused me huge stress over the last 2 years especially.
    lowella likes this.
  5. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, yes and yes. When my symptoms were at their worst I was working in the film business... I was a Set Painter "scenic artist' at Paramount (and other studios). I went from entry level to Show Boss in Three years. A lot of the older guys resented me for working my way up the ladder so fast... but...

    I hate television and Hollywood. I think that a large majority of our societies ills are direct caused by the media (read Jerry Manders' "Four reasons for the elimination of television") People in my trade got jobs based on Nepotism and Machiavellian power struggles, not on their work. I got busy working hard AND politicking. The reason? It was the highest paying 'trade' job I could get and my family needed the money to maintain the meager bit of social status we had. Never mind that I felt deep down that it was meaningless, I was just a cog in a wheel of a machine I thought was EVIL.

    My symptoms resolved before I left Hollywood, BUT It got harder and harder to pretend I cared or wanted to be there. I started working the minimum amount of hours possible and always jumped at the chance to do 'outside' work (regular construction and painting) where I actually felt useful and needed. My salary halved. I moved to Nashville,tn. My wife left me. Now I am just a plain old meat and potatoes 'construction worker'.... and all of my pain is gone and has been for a long time.

    Home Run!
  6. lowella

    lowella Peer Supporter

    shakermaker, I'm right there with you. Wanting to do something new but needing to support my family with my current salary, I'm stuck for quite a few more years until retirement, which creates some fear about future symptoms as well. My incongruency is that I'm not helping people, and feel the need to.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
    Upgrayedd and Shakermaker like this.
  7. Upgrayedd

    Upgrayedd New Member

    Add me to the list. My job is okay, but it does nothing to fulfill me. It is nothing that I dreamed of or thought I'd be doing 30 years ago when I graduated college. In fact, it's probably the last thing I thought I'd be doing.

    More importantly, I think, is the pressure to keep it to support my family (5 of us plus more animals than I want to admit), combined with the fact that no one seems to understand that pressure, is quite maddening consciously, and probably even more so unconsciously.

    Which brings us to dreams deferred, or forgotten. Guilt. Sadness. Embarrassment. Let it go, let it go...
    readytoheal, lowella and Shakermaker like this.
  8. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    and also @Upgrayedd , and @Shakermaker -

    Here's the thing, guys - you don't necessarily have to change your job. Finding relief from the physical symptoms of your repressed emotions only requires that you STOP repressing those emotions, and that you come to an agreement with yourself about them, which means accepting them as part of who you are, instead of judging and/or fearing them.

    Another way to put this: even if you can't change your job, you CAN change your thoughts.

    The symptoms that we call TMS come about because your fearful primitive brain believes that if you face your deeply repressed negative thoughts, that you will stop paying attention to the dangers all around you, and you will die. This was useful in the primitive world, but it makes no sense in today's world. For one thing, we live too long, and for another, we have far too many choices.

    The TMS mechanism is designed to keep you fearful of danger, and constantly on the alert. So even though all of you are, on some level, aware of your negative feelings about your jobs, you have not really addressed the negativity from a deeper, core level, which is where your brain is working hard to repress your emotions.

    The key is to find a way to talk back to your fearful brain, to calm it down, to reassure it, and and ultimately to accept the choices you have made without beating yourself up.

    And the following suggestions might seem trite, but they might also be helpful to get started thinking differently:

    - Think about what your ancestors had to do in order to survive. You go back far enough, and, for better or worse, they had no choices.

    - I regularly remind myself about how lucky I am to be safe, secure, and well-fed. My world is far from primitive, and far from dangerous. Not everyone can say the same.

    - Stop comparing yourself to others. That way lies TMS. Accept that the choices you have made are what you need to do right now.

  9. lowella

    lowella Peer Supporter

    Thank you Jan! I don't feel I'm comparing. I feel I've done all the things you list, but still having some issues - or maybe it's just taking a long time. According to Steve O's book, because I have tinnitus, I'm still not listening to myself somehow, and I can't figure out what that is to get rid of it. I've been journaling emotions for quite some time. I'm ready to start punching a bag. Things are a whole lot better, but still ever-present. I don't know if I'm missing the right emotion to address, or what. I guess my limbic system is doing a good job hiding it from me even though I ask/demand more info regularly. Regardless, thank you for those thoughts!!
  10. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hmm, @lowella - I think I was reacting to your statement about fearing future symptoms. That sounds like your fearful primitive brain is still in control... and that you still believe you have no ability to take control. Perhaps do some free-writing on that topic.
    lowella likes this.
  11. lowella

    lowella Peer Supporter

    Thanks Jan! I can do that. I sometimes feel like I'm lost in the matrix with this stuff and missing something obvious that my brain is hiding from me. I don't think my fearful brain is much in control, but maybe a tiny bit still...I have great ability to take control, and have - I just feel limited by my work, which I think is keeping me stagnant. Are you saying I (we) need to work hard to convince the subconscious that it's ok to be in a job that isn't in line with my goals?
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
  12. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Gosh, no - "convincing" your subconscious is definitely not the goal. That sounds like the essence of repression, in fact. That question gives me a clue about what you might be missing, although I'm not sure how to explain the shift that you need to make. I'll think about that - while I keep writing...

    That's a common belief. The thing is, our brains are wired to be negative and fearful. It's a primitive survival technique, and it's also the basis for modern TMS. In dangerous primitive times, humans didn't live long enough for the TMS distraction mechanism to turn into chronic pain. Besides, mere survival was distracting enough for the most part. In any case, the point is that this is something we have to be aware of and keep working on - it is not something that can be cured, because, again, it is part of how we are wired.

    Your negative thoughts are an indication that your primitive fearful brain is definitely in charge. Your thoughts regarding your job, and the choice you are making to stay in it, are negative, right? You are using words like "stuck" and "stagnant", and you said that you fear future symptoms as a result. You clearly don't want these thoughts, yet this stuff comes out of your brain at the same time that you say that you're in control of your thoughts. Just an observation!

    Look, doing this work successfully requires that we are 100% honest with ourselves. I recall when I was doing the writing exercises in the SEP, that my brain would literally try to convince me not to write certain thoughts down - I can't remember at what point I realized that this was happening, but it was quite a revelation when I became aware of an inner voice saying "Oh, you don't need to write THAT down, I'm sure it's not important". I had to force myself to write them down, because they were things from my past that were embarrassing or guilt-inducing. None of them were earth-shattering, but facing them, and accepting myself in spite of them, was a very freeing experience and helped me turn a corner in self-awareness and self-acceptance.

    Here are some possibly scary questions to get you started: How long are you willing to live with this negativity? How long have you already lived with it? And what happens when you retire? Do you think it's going to suddenly disappear? Or will you always have regrets that you never found work that was in line with your goals?

    If you don't deal with these questions, I don't see how you can recover.

    Here's what I think: You have to do a lot more work on this issue - and perhaps others, but this is the one in front of us right now. I already said that it's definitely not a matter of "convincing" your subconscious of something that is inherently negative for you - that is going in the wrong direction. Rather, you are going to have to go back and go deep in order to figure out WHY your work choice is so negative for you. What expectations, or whose expectations, have you failed to meet? Why is this failure so important? Why is your self-esteem being harmed? How does it relate to your concept of personal meaning in your life?

    If you are being 100% honest with yourself, who or what comes to mind when you think of your failure to find meaning in your work? I believe that you have to answer that question honestly if you want to make any progress.
    Shakermaker and suky like this.
  13. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I was just looking into a book mentioned today in a new Success Story, and the book description (on Amz) in just a couple of paragraphs offers an explanation that meshes perfectly with what I was attempting to explain. The book is called "The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck", by Mark Manson, and here are a few excerpts from the official overview (with my bolded emphases):

    For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life.... Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—"not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault." Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding, and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

  14. lowella

    lowella Peer Supporter

    This is great stuff, thanks Jan. I guess most of it is just subconscious because there's not a lot coming to my conscious mind - I will go through the questions in detail, but at first look I haven't failed anyone's expectations at work other than maybe my own for slacking just occasionally, which everyone does. I do not have a lot of social time at work, most of the time I'm just stuck alone in my office (which may be one of the issues). The only thing I can think of is that I'm not really helping people with anything lasting (just quick/silly computer problems), otherwise I'm in a very technical job and I don't get to see the results of my work. It's also a Government job and people are extremely negative at the office, and I'm an empath. I have learned to deal with them through journaling and seeing that the reason they are that way is their past. I appreciate your help and know that you're not expecting me to answer these questions for you, but for me, so will keep working on them!
  15. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I wish there was a 'triple like' button for That JanAtheCPA.

    I have worked on stage again since my cure. I just have to remind myself deep down I don't give a care about celebrity, ascendancy and power.
    . I just keep my head down , do my work and have a lot of 'happy' dialogue about how nice it is I have found the way out. I don't rail against or complain... just know that I am working for a higher order that I don't understand.

    There isn't anything I CAN'T do because of TMS. However, the awareness that I received that cured it has vastly changed my interests .
  16. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    I second that, Jan is on a roll today :)
    JanAtheCPA and lowella like this.
  17. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi All,

    To me, both of these passages point to how we let our superegos --Inner Critics, and our superego ideals ---who we think we need to be in order to be OK, run us. So your work Jan points to a healthy separation or what I call "inner boundaries" between you and the scripts which try to run you. When we "don't give a f*ck," this is a doorway to freedom and autonomy. With this comes clarity and reality as the author suggests. We untangle ourselves from the efforting to be somebody we aren't, and probably never were.

    In my experience this takes deep work with the superego, because its job is to keep us in a deficient, distracted, striving state, in which we never arrive, we're never good enough. It is attempting to improve us so that we'll be lovable. In terms of work, this might mean "being enough."

    Eventually the natural question arises: If I am not that thing I thought I was, or can never be this thing which I am trying to be, then what am I? This not-knowing is part of what the superego does not want to allow into consciousness, which also explains the vehemence of its activity. And yet with not-knowing, tenderness, compassion, vulnerability and love can live. This beats striving and never arriving! For me, this boundary making is a life-time's work, going through the doorway into not-knowing many times. It is not so easy for a perfectionist people-pleaser!

    Andy B
  18. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think this is important and beautiful! You know this Baseball65, but I want to note it.
    JanAtheCPA and Baseball65 like this.
  19. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    It's so interesting that this is how you've chosen to interpret my questions! Your issue is not "at" work, and it has nothing to do with your job performance - although I applaud you for the techniques you have employed to cope with negative co-workers - that's a real plus. BUT - your issue is all about how you feel about your career choice.

    It would appear that your brain is extremely resistant to you looking at your job dissatisfaction from a much deeper and farther back point of view. Which means that looking at your job dissatisfaction issue from a much deeper and farther back point of view is what you really need to do - because that's where the repression is.

    This is not an easy concept to get across, so anyone who can help, please jump in! This stuff is at the core of the work we all have to do. But I'm a CPA, after all - not a therapist (although... somewhere I have an old NYT clipping of an article entitled "The CPA as Therapist"...)

    But let's recap: You've stated that you are dissatisfied with your work choices, that you made a pragmatic choice for financial security, and that for you, this is not really acceptable. You are wondering how this has affected your health (TMS) and you are worried that it might affect your health in the future. You are allowing your brain to maintain a negative frame of mind by consistently using negative words to describe your job. This might be compounded by guilt, because you know there are plenty of people who would be happy to have a stable government job.

    Consider this: it appears that you are reacting to being judged negatively for your choice. And lord knows, we humans really hate being judged.

    Obviously, you are judging yourself. But it's really not "you" who is doing the judging. This judgement came from somewhere, and it probably came from the past. Who else is judging you? The answer to that question is not necessarily someone who is currently in your life - in fact, it's most likely to be from your past. Parental expectations never leave us - and we tend to apply their expectations to others that we form relationships with later on.

    This is where you need to fight against your brain's attempt to keep repressing memories from your past. If you sense that happening, you need to just go for it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel.
    readytoheal, Shakermaker and lowella like this.
  20. lowella

    lowella Peer Supporter

    Thank you, Jan. I guess this is a tricky one. When I say I haven't failed anyone, I was answering your question directly, but perhaps that's not exactly what you meant.

    There is no one from my past who has ever judged me that I know of, everyone is proud of the work I do, all parents family friends etc. I get paid well enough (my wife makes more than me to be honest, and I am secure in that) and have been at this job for 18 years but I do like some change. I *could* leave and get by but am not qualified to do anything else that I can think of that would give me more pleasure. I think it IS just me doing the judging, I just don't know why. Part of this may be that when I got very sick, it was due to a house flood issue - and during that time, I was embarrassed at work because I had to go to a different building due to chemical smells being a problem (I'm back now, and it didn't really phase anyone other than me) During that time I did keep telling myself I would have to find a new job because I felt guilt that I couldn't be in the proper building to do my work. Could I have programmed all this and that's why I'm still having issues? Really the bigger issue for me was the smells. And now that I've healed a lot after 18 months, I realize I have a lot of normal life-stress stuff contributing (giving my 3 kids rides to sports every day and managing my wife's office as a 2nd job) I have journaled about all this a LOT and will continue. I really appreciate your time & generosity, Jan!! You seem to be very wise with all this! Also I want to apologize for hijacking the original poster's thread ;) I hope that the discussion has helped them as well and would love to hear more detail about their situation if they wish.

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