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TMS Forum obsession?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by giantsfan, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. giantsfan

    giantsfan Well known member

    Hello, do any of you restrict the amount of times or length of time you spend on this forum? I know everyone is different in how they need to heal, but I've heard some people say keeping TMS on their minds too often can be detrimental to their health. On the other hand I know setting limits and rules can just be more stressful. Just curious, thank you :)
    Simplicity likes this.
  2. hecate105

    hecate105 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I found I used it almost daily when I started the Structured Educational Prog. but decreased as I got better. Then I left it alone for ages - I was revelling in feeling 'normal' after so many ill years! But I now try to log in at least once a week, and read a few posts. It is amazing how reading about someone else can bring things to the fore that I might not be conscious of - and then I can deal with it. Also it is heart-warming to know that there are so many of us thinking in the same ways, and taking steps to heal. It does feel like a kind of family - one you can lean on, but doesn't p**s you off!
  3. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    This is a good post….and I have thought about this point numerous time I know Monte H says in is program to get educated on TMS and stay for away from TMS forums of all type that they just feed the BEAST. Even though I have learned so much from the fantastic people on this site, when is ENOUGH----ENOUGH?
  4. Simplicity

    Simplicity Guest

    Good question. I think like with most things it's what you make of it. It can become an obsession, for sure... on the other hand it's invaluable because here we can find support and much needed information. I know I've felt less lonely in my struggles by being here; there're always people here that can relate and many times that's all I've needed. To know that someone, somewhere has felt what I'm feeling. It's about finding a balance.
  5. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    As grateful as I am for the site, I think it's important to find a happy medium, it should be used as a tool to expand ones knowledge and not be a crutch. At some point as we recover, I think we will all use the site less as our lives resume normality and we are pain free. But others I guess will continue to use the forum to share knowledge and help others.

    For some, having too much exposure and absorbing too much negativity can create fear and have a detrimental impact on ones own healing. It's really about how you utilise the site, I know from a personal standpoint, I've veered more towards looking at success stories, healing concepts and techniques.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
  6. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    I agree with Hecate. When I first discovered the SEP, I was on the wiki every day. As I recovered, my visits became more infrequent, and even stopped for a while.
    This year I'm experimenting with visiting almost every day. My subC is quite wily, and always up for discovering new ways in which to manifest pain in my body. I like to feel that responding to others not only helps me, but also is a way of giving back and helping others.
  7. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes, this question comes up periodically. I think that the overall lesson of TMS healing is that we need to be mindful in how we do everything, and this applies to using the forum as well. For every activity we do, we want to develop an awareness of how the activity affects us and then develop skills at what psychologists refer to as "self-regulation."

    As with many things in TMS healing, I think everyone is different for this. For me, using the forum too much isn't a problem at all. I'm very lucky in that I have a job that I love and relationships that are supportive and healthy. We have an amazing group of people here, and interacting with all of you adds a lot of meaning to my life and makes me feel more connected. Even after all of these years, I learn a lot from reading your posts and it makes me feel good about who I am to be part of it.

    On the other hand, along with the positive effects, some people occasionally have negative effects, so it may be helpful to think about what the potential things to watch out for are. Through better understanding these things to watch out for, we can possibly even realize that the pitfalls aren't so deep after all.

    So, what are the things to watch out for?

    The first thing that most people think of is that it might be triggering to read about other people’s TMS. This issue doesn’t affect me at all, but it’s not uncommon for others to say that it does affect them. If it does affect you, one approach would be to limit which forums or threads you read and participate in. However, in the long run, you want to develop your strength so that you can read about other people’s TMS and still feel confident and secure. That way, you don't have to give up the valuable support you could get from the forum. If you feel triggered by reading about someone else's experiences, you may want to ask why that is. It may be an opportunity to explore and grow, strengthening your TMS foundation. Self-compassion may mean shielding yourself a little bit, especially at the beginning, but in the long run you want to live life to the fullest, without any fear. Many TMSers have learned to read other people’s TMS stories without any problems and I'm pretty confident that you can, too.

    Another thing to watch out for is negativity, victimhood and pessimism. While negativity may be justified, it is terrible for recovery and it can spread like a meme in the community. The great thing about the TMS approach is that it gives people hope and control, and negativity undermines this and undermines healing. The people who overcome TMS are heroes in that they have every excuse to see themselves as victims, but on some level they know that doing so will only make things worse and slow or roll back their recovery. Fear and suffering are a natural and unavoidable part of TMS recovery for most people, and I am constantly amazed at people's ability use their evidence sheets or whatever tool they use (such as affirmations or arguing with their brain) to regulate their emotions and keep things positive.

    When you see this type of negativity, victimhood or pessimism, the first thing you want to do is to protect yourself so that you don't get sucked into it. Next, we want to help the negative person by helping them become aware of how their negativity is hurting them and letting them know that they have the power to overcome that negativity so that they can heal faster. This can be hard to do because our natural impulse is to sympathize, but sympathizing can create a pity party, which causes the meme of negativity to spread, harming more members of the community. On the other hand, if you take action, even imperfectly, you can give people the tools to heal.

    I recently saw a rough clip of the documentary about Dr. Sarno, in which he handled negativity incredibly expertly during one of his lectures. It was like watching an artist and was a pleasure to see. One of his patients was complaining about how some people get better after immediately after reading a book. As someone who has been on the forum (and has felt the responsibility of managing a forum) for seven years, I could immediately see how this could spiral into fear, pessimism, and negativity. Ideally, the patient would have the skills to self-regulate this, but this was just one of the initial lectures, so Dr. Sarno swooped in and handled it himself. To someone else, his approach might have seemed brusque or rude, but it was exactly what the patient needed in order to keep positive and heal. Dr. Sarno said, "Well, you’re not one of those, so forget it. … It's not a problem. It’s only a problem if you don’t understand that not everyone is the same." In this brief statement, he gave the patient the gift of understanding that everyone is different, so that the next time the patient had doubts he could self-regulate and remember that the fact that he was taking longer to heal was in no way evidence that he wouldn't heal.

    Similarly, later in the video, he gives them additional tools for self-regulation. He says, "You cannot get better until you say I do have structural abnormalities, and that is because we all have them, but they are not the cause of my pain. And I understand that sometimes it's hard to get over these ideas, and if you have that experience, you have to share that with me, so I can help you get over them." In saying this, he helps them focus on how they need to take responsibity for overcoming their fear of the physical. He also gives them tools for how to do it if they get stuck. (Of course, because we are not doctors, so we can't talk as if we were experts, but the principle is the same. Rather than asserting that they don't have a physical problem as if we were doctors who had read their charts, we can refer them to their own doctor or to evidence sheets.) It may seem like what he was doing was simple, but it was actually quite complex!

    The bottom line is that seeing negativity in other people can make it easier to identify negativity in ourselves. We can then use our insight to help the other person manage their own negativity and emerge stronger.

    The next issue to be aware of is what I call magazine reading. This happens when people read TMS materials such as a book or a forum as if they were reading a magazine article, but don't take the time to apply the ideas to their own case. Of course, reading and learning more is helpful in that it can help you better accept the diagnosis and give you invaluable tools for helping yourself. But, at some point, you need to actually apply those tools. You've got to decide what approach you are going to take and actually apply the approach. In other words, reading another forum post or another chapter in the book is no substitute for doing the actual journaling, meditation, or inner child work. Some people may read in order to avoid doing the actual work and may need to be reminded that while there is no harm in reading, they have to do the actual work as well.

    Clearly, magazine reading is easy to fix. You just make sure that you do the work before you sit down to read.

    A final issue is reading the forum "too much". I remember reading the forum an awful lot as I was healing. I used to read every single post that I could. I was amazed by the incredible insight and ideas that I found, and it was a period of great personal growth and learning that still affects me to this day. As such, it's hard to worry too much about this, but everyone is different and can make their own decision.

    When people first start coming to the forum, I think that it is typically to see how other real people are healing. Over time, you realize how much value there is in what you can learn, and so you come back for the ideas and to deepen your understanding. Over time, it becomes about the meaningful interactions and relationships that we can find here. Not just scientists, clergy, and the people who you respect the most will all tell you that serving other people is one of the surest routes to long term happiness. And that service will feel most meaningful if it’s something deep in your heart – if you’ve been there, too. That’s why I keep coming back. Plus it’s fun. And interesting. I find that I grow as a person through my interactions with the forum.

    Of course, we all need balance in our lives. We need in person relationships and other "real-world" meaningful relationships as well. Sometimes our symptoms may make this hard, but it's always important to find the best balance that we can.

    In the end, one of the deeper insights that I've learned out of my years on the TMS forum has been the importance of mindfulness. We need to be aware of how we are reacting to things and develop positive strategies to change what needs to be changed. The forum has a tremendous amount to offer, but there are some things that some people may need to watch out for.

    The first thing to watch out for would be being triggered by reading about other people's symptoms. Rather than abandoning a valuable source of support, I'd say that we overcome TMS by building up the emotional reserves to "self-regulate" when we get triggered. A second thing to watch out for is negativity. We can self-regulate with this, too, but we also need to help our peers by doing what Dr. Sarno did in the clip - letting them know that they have the ability to control their negativity and that doing so will help them heal. Third, we need to avoid magazine reading. Fixing this is pretty simple: you just do the actual work before "picking up the magazine" to read what to do next. Finally, for the fourth issue of "too much a good thing," if we enjoy all things in moderation, we can live meaningful and happy lives.

    Finally, what makes the forums so wonderful is the wide variety of thoughtful opinions presented here. If anyone feels in their heart that they need to visit the forum less frequently, then by all means, do so! If you ever feel the need to leave completely, that's fine, too. If you decide later that you want to return, you will always be welcome, and we will appreciate the wisdom you bring back from your experience.
    plum, hecate105, mdh157 and 8 others like this.
  8. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    An excellent and incredibly thoughtful post, @Forest. You've definitely given me alot of food for thought.

    Your post has given me a sense of clarity and direction and it couldn't have come at a better time. Thank you.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
  9. blake

    blake Well known member

    "well you're not one of those, so forget it" absolutely brilliant! And not just for tms stuff. I came up with something similar to deal with my sad thoughts about my dysfunctional childhood. When those thoughts come up, I simply say: so what! I use it all the time and it works, but I like Dr Sarno's "forget it" just as much. I'm just not one of those people who had a happy childhood, so forget it. It's not a problem... priceless.

    Thank you for that little nugget of gold, Forest.
    hecate105 and Forest like this.
  10. giantsfan

    giantsfan Well known member

    Dang, Forest, that was one heck of a response. Thank you for all that, I read it twice back to back!

    I do remember that video in which Dr. Sarno responded in that way, it gave me a lot of relief because I was feeling just as that man in the video was after finishing the book.
    I also agree that truly putting these practices to practice is key - I still need to apply that when it comes to journaling, but that's okay, I'm new to it.

    p.s. Monte was one of the guys who had me questioning about visiting this site in the first place. I just now saw your response to that in another post, but I'm damn glad I'm a part of this forum - I don't care what anyone says.
    Forest and Tassie Devil like this.
  11. Tassie Devil

    Tassie Devil Peer Supporter

    And THAT Forest, is why I am enjoying this invaluable forum so much. There is always someone with the experience, wisdom and positive way of answering every single query from someone as new as myself. I am finding myself at last in all this, and at this early stage my only concern is that I might be in danger of becoming a bit of a "bore" trying to encourage others to look at this site. I didn't know it existed until my pain brought me here, and I feel like a bit of a zealot right now - and that even before I've done all I should for myself. Even so, I'm gentler on myself and being made aware of the harm I have done myself over the years with my fears, reactions and traits, all of which are still part of me but thanks to "you lot" are pulling their respective horns in somewhat as I speak to them and me. Loving this journey and this forum.
    hecate105 and giantsfan like this.
  12. Simplicity

    Simplicity Guest

    Thanks for the reply, @Forest ... it's a post everyone should read and take to heart.
  13. mdh157

    mdh157 Well known member

    I think I can speak for some others when I say it is nice for those of us still struggling to be able to hear some positive talk from those who have passed this way before. I am glad some of those who have healed are hanging around.
    hecate105, Forest and giantsfan like this.
  14. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Whoah, thanks everyone for your kind words!
    I completely agree. It is so nice to see some old familiar usernames coming back.
    Indeed, if some people use reading as a way of avoiding doing the work, then the helpful thing would be to teach them to how recognize when that was happening so they can refocus themselves on the work. It's a bit like "give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish:" chances are that if they are using reading as a distraction (i.e. magazine reading, described above), then if they stop reading, they will find another distraction. If they quit participating in the forum and use some other activity to distract themselves, then they have the double dilemma of not having a free support system and also still distracting themselves.

    Here's the other thread for anyone reading this later:

    It's a nice application of some of the ideas in this thread.
    Simplicity likes this.
  15. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Everyone,

    As I started getting better, with some of the tools I got from this Forum, and other sources like Dr. Sarno, and Monte, and my own insights about what was working, I did not come here much at all for some time. Something wonderful was happening in me, so I wanted to dig in with what was working, a few basic tools, and not get distracted. I didn't need any more input.

    Part of that was that I did not want to read about people struggling and not getting anywhere, like some posts demonstrate.

    Another part is that I did not want to undermine my belief in what was working, by trying to "improve" my methods. I could see that as a perfectionist trap that I might be prone to fall in to.

    I also didn't want my superego to get activated by reading that I was doing something wrong. I didn't want any doubts about my approach. This would have been different if I had not made steady progress, I know. I would have been drawn here to "get more." And that would have been fine too, I think.

    So seeing all these things, I recognize that I took a sort of protective stance toward my learning.

    I would say to people that are new to this, that as success happens, it can feel fragile at first, and so I hope you do anything you can to support your independent, positive TMS experiences. Part of the TMS experience for people can be more individuation, becoming yourself. So if you see Forum visits disrupting this natural growth --you following your own wisdom-- this is good to know.

    I returned when I was really convinced that I was past the hump, and excited to share and support as I might.

    (On the other hand, so many posts here are so tender and honest in asking for support; this is what is great about this place. Maybe I was too chicken to do that!)

    Andy B
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  16. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Andy. It sound like you had a lot of insight and a good understanding of "where you were at." Likewise, it sounds like you were in a terrific spot, with a clear vision of what you needed to do. All that was left was to actually do it, and you didn't want anything to interfere with something that was already working.

    If we get a clear vision of exactly what we need, there's probably truth in it, and it may be exactly the right thing for us.

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