1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
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Day 4 The power of words

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by wintermute, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. wintermute

    wintermute New Member

    I've been thinking about the power of words today. Yesterday my pain increased after doing some programming, and I was afraid I would wake up this morning with a lot of pain, as happened many times before after hvaing a bad day. Fortunately this did not happen. Most likely it was another conditioned response, just like the pain increase after making dinner. It's interesting how this fear came mostly from a single sentence I read on some random RSI page. I mentioned these words before, they were something along the lines of: "a couple of bad hours at the computer can set your recovery back for weeks or months". This has been resonating in my mind for months now and guiding my actions, until yesterday. Kind of crazy, since these words probably don't even apply to my situation even if you take the structural view of RSI. My pain comes from the muscles in my back, radiating to my arms and hands. It's definitely not due to actual damage in my arms. Still, they had a profound impact.

    The same mechanism has been fueling my hypochondria over the years as well. When I have symptom X and I read a story about a person who had symptom X and then turned out to have deadly disease Y I connected the dots and got scared. The story could then linger in my brain for months. On a conscious level I know having symptom X does not tell you anything about the probability of having deadly disease Y if you don't know how many people have symptom X but not disease Y, but the words remain just as powerful. The unconscious mind does not seem to grasp basic probability theory.

    Of course this also works in the positive direction. When I read a story about a person who had symptom X but turned out to be healthy I could feel my anxiety levels dropping. "Hey, that could be me as well". If I read 3 positive stories about symptom X and then have the willpower to stop googling for about a week, my fear for symptom X is usually over at the end of the week. Had I stopped googling after reading 3 negative stories, the fear would stick around a lot longer. I guess this is why it's very important for me to read TMS success stories. Even if I manage to convince myself I have TMS on an intellectual level, my unconscious mind probably rather hears some good examples of how pain turned out to be TMS in other people. A success story a day keeps the TMS away? If only it were that easy ;).

    I watched the video of Forest about working too hard at the TMS and I think he spoke a lot of truth. Since I've discovered this wiki I've been getting a little too obsessed with it all. From now on I will spend some time on it every day... read a bit of theory, do the exercises as outlined in the SEP, read a success story, watch a video maybe, but then move on to other things for the rest of the day. I need time to let it all sink in anyway.

    Writing these forum posts has been really helpful to me -- much more than I expected -- so I will try and write one everday. And I'd like to thank this wonderful community for all the encouraging words. Living in the age of internet does have a lot of advantages.
    Emily likes this.
  2. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    Thanks for sharing Winter.

    I think what you've outlined for yourself re: this site and then moving on about your day is a good idea.

    And don't google symptoms! The worst case scenarios will come up and then take you down that path as you've seen for yourself. I remember when my back hurt--I googled some of the symptoms I was having and it made me feel worse!

    Best wishes.
  3. gailnyc

    gailnyc Well known member

    Wintermute, it sounds like you are really on your way. Becoming obsessed with doing the SEP program "exactly right" is just another TMS distraction.

    Lori is absolutely right--do not Google symptoms. I too have been haunted by one-line statements I've read on random websites. In this case, ignorance really is best.

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