1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

TMS/MBS community inconsistencies

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by jamejamesjames1, May 9, 2020.

  1. jamejamesjames1

    jamejamesjames1 Peer Supporter

    I’ve been doing a ton of reading on TMS and related material (Divided Mind, Healing Back Pain, Unlearn Your Pain, Rapid Recovery, Back in Control, Hope and Help for your Nerves, Power of Now, Curable, John Stacks material, Dr. Zaffreidies, Alan Gordon, Monte Hueffle, etc) as well as going through the boards and doing a ton of posting. There is a ton of good advice and the community is very supportive. Being an overly analytical person I find myself in the pattern of trying to gather as much information as possible, see what resonates with me, and putting “the best plan for me” into action. The issue is I’m also searching for “that one cure” and what is the “best” approach to healing (even though I can tell via success stories and peoples advice it is definitely a matter of different strokes for different folks).

    Here are some of the “contradictories” I see in the community / literature (or it could be I am misinterpreting or misrepresenting some of the ideas):

    • Your repressed emotions from childhood or recent past cause symptoms vs. your day to day way of treating yourself
    • TMS simply is anxiety in the physical form (the cause) vs. anxiety is just another manifestation of TMS (an effect)
    • TMS symptoms arise and stick around because of your hyperfocus on it vs. TMS being a deliberate strategy that can cause pain wherever and however it wants
    • Relaxing (focusing) into the pain, “talking” to it telling it your understand what its doing vs ignoring it and paying it no attention whatsoever
    • Being part of a community of individuals in the same situation (this board) vs. others in similar situation just exacerbates your problems by reminding yourself of your situation
    • Repressed rage / powerful emotions that you aren’t aware of cause this vs. your strong emotions that you have to much of and wont let go of (anger) are driving the tension and anxiety which create
    • You are not engaged in the world enough and need to get back into living vs. you are too type A and need to take a break and chill
    • Distraction helps the pain vs Distraction is running away from the situation and will catch up to you and make things worse when you run out of gas
    • Need to find your purpose vs. nothing really matters, be free of any sort of purpose pressure
    • Working on your irrational thinking (CBT) can be very helpful vs. only emotional based therapies are helpful
    • Doing physical exercise like stretching shows you that your body is strong and healthy vs doing physical exercise like stretching takes your mind away from the TMS healing approach

    I’m sure there are more but these are the ones that come to mind.

    Ultimately I suppose I need what approaches work best for me, but I worry I won’t know what approaches work for me. I image I won’t see an immediate change. I don’t want to not give methods enough time to work but nor do I want to go down a path that isn’t going to be effective for my situation.
    Northwood, silentflutes and nowa like this.
  2. miffybunny

    miffybunny Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi! I read your post with great interest and I'm not sure they necessarily contradict each other. It's a matter of finding balance...not so much an either/or scenario. I also don't see differences other than the label which is semantics. I'll try to address and unpack your points:

    1.) Childhood forms the basis for thought patterns and belief systems and they are usually carried over into adulthood. Once you look at those, you can leave it in the past and just focus on the day to day (that has it's roots in your past). There is no benefit to staying in past traumas or rehashing them endlessly. The important thing is to look at the present moment and the thoughts you are generating habitually ...day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. So the latter is just an extension of the former. No contradiction imo.

    2.) This becomes a vicious circle. Our physical symptoms are a manifestation of stress shunted into the body. The danger signals that are activated are tied up with neuropathways. Our brains use those signals as a distraction strategy and then in turn our brains become conditioned and we find ourselves in constant fight or flight. The preoccupation with symptoms and the horrid sensations then cause further fear and anxiety...which then fuels the TMS. The goal is to interrupt this loop through knowledge, practice and an attitude of indifference.

    3.) This technique depends on the person but for me indifference was key. I talked to my brain but not the symptoms. I think you may have a misunderstanding of that point. I relaxed into them in a sense by not giving a crap. This doesn't contradict imo. Just a matter of how you interpret. It's impossible to "ignore" the horrid symptoms just as it's impossible to "ignore" a screaming toddler. The goal is to stay calm in the midst of it with the knowledge that just as the toddler is powerless and scared, so is you're TMS.

    4.) This one's a doozy and very important. The wiki is not the same as your typical support group for fellow sufferers where pp wallow and commiserate and members commit suicide, and others wear t shirts with their labels, Those kinds of groups are toxic and just reinforce victimhood and powerlessness. The wiki is a resource for info. and members to ask questions and share experiences for the purpose of GETTING BETTER. Huge difference there. There is one caveat, however, if a person starts TMSing about TMS and spends too much time searching, reassurance seeking or looking for negative posts to fit their internal negative narrative...THEN in that case it is counter productive and defeats the purpose of this community. This something each person has to be aware of and take responsibility for.

    5.). This is a combo and usually a cumulative thing. It's not just "I was bullied in middle school and repressed that all my life" OR "I feel homicidal rage every second at work but I keep putting a happy face on with my boss who I hate". It's a combination of deeply repressed stuff as well as cumulative, banal things. Some of us don't even have major childhood traumas but cumulatively even minor stresses can cause the brain to go into tilt in the same way.

    6.) This speaks to the WAY you are living your life rather than the "intensity" or goal oriented things. It comes down to living your life on your terms as your authentic self...meaning, doing what brings you joy, purpose and fulfillment and inner peace....without the constant pressure of meeting external goals. This is a balance and will look different for each person. This is at the crux of healing imo and probably THE most important issue one has to figure out. THIS is the real journey.

    7.). The physical pain symptoms serve as a distraction from your emotions and life. When you shift focus to those, the pain (the TMS) cease to have a purpose and thus ceases to exist. When we face our emotions and practical issues in our life head on , with the realization that these things are safe (emotions and thoughts are safe), we disable the pain mechanism. Distraction is a defense of the brain to "protect" us but its maladaptive.

    8.). This would hinge on how you define "purpose" or goals. This speaks to your value system. If one's purpose to earn a lot of money and become famous for ex, but they have no inner peace or healthy relationships....then they will need to examine that. This goes back to point #6. It's a question of your own personal value system and purpose in your own life.

    9.). This needs to be a combo. I had to change my thought patterns as well as deal with emotions I was repressing. Both are vital. Our cognitive and affective worlds are equally important when it comes to healing from a psychological condition like TMS.

    10.). With regards to physical exercise the approach should be to do it for overall wellness IRRESPECTIVE of the TMS. The TMS is wholly irrelevant. Gradually by exercising it does build up confidence and proof to the brain that one is not "broken" but that's not WHY you are doing it. You are also not doing it to take your mind off healing from TMS. You are doing it because you feel like it and it's good for you , just like any other human being who doesn't have TMS. It's always good to approach things as someone who is already "healed" because guess what? You ARE already healed LOL! You just don't realize it yet!

    I hope this helped a bit and gave some insight based on my personal experience!

    Mike46, Kati, Baseball65 and 7 others like this.
  3. miffybunny

    miffybunny Beloved Grand Eagle

    Just want to add one more thing: There is no "right" way to do this...no secret recipe or formula. It's a shift in mindset and the tools, modalities, duration and trajectory is different for each person. It's not about "trying harder", "reading more", spending hours researching or journaling. It is soooo much simpler and banal than that. It's calming down with the knowledge you have, practicing the changes you need to make and having some patience. That's it in a nutshell.
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
  4. jamejamesjames1

    jamejamesjames1 Peer Supporter

    Honestly some of the best advice I've read. I appreciate you taking the time. A lot of that helps me to simply move on. I feel like I was stuck between certain methods thinking there was a right and a wrong.

    I have a somewhat personal question for you. After healing, why stick around? Is it just to help others? I really comend you and appreciate it because at the moment in my suffering I feel like if I make it out if the woods I'd want to keep this chapter of my life closed. Maybe I'll feel differently as I feel better!
    nowa and plum like this.
  5. miffybunny

    miffybunny Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, I'm so glad this helps you to move on and not overanalyze any longer...I think many of us go through that, I know I certainly did!

    Your question is a great one! You would think I would just want to forget all this hell and not revisit it right lol? Tbh, I have asked myself that at times too. There are many of us here on the wiki who are here to volunteer our time to help others. Some have even written books or are involved in organizations and chats to read the word. We have all been there and it's our way of paying it forward. I think that's what makes this community so unique. When I was lost in the wilderness of the internet, ALL I saw was horror stories of gloom and doom because unfortunately those that have success tend to not write about it. They just get on with their lives. It's human nature and the nature of the online world unfortunately. I remember I would have given my right arm to speak to someone or read about someone who recovered from "CRPS" but at the time could find barely anything. I promised myself that when I got better I would help others and even if it makes me uncomfortable sometimes, I think it's important and it's something that has a lot of meaning for me. You never now how you may feel on the other side! Either way it's just fine and whatever works for you!
    Kati, Baseball65, Northwood and 4 others like this.
  6. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi miffy and james,

    I really appreciated reading this thread tonight. miffybunny I see you as a tireless advocate for clarity and success. jamesjamesjames1, this is important, and worth your time (already spent) to unpack:
    I see this TMS work as a deep practice of individuation, in many ways. Learning we're not the pain. Learning we aren't victims. Learning we're not our history. Learning we are not our superego, or our parents, or those other really successful TMS folks. Learning to speak up for ourselves. Learning to trust our own guidance. Through all the inquiry and practice, learning to be more authentic, as miffybunny says.

    We got into this situation psychodynamically by giving ourselves up in order to be loved (or at least this is an important thread). So we move out of it by our own gumption and guidance, our own unique aliveness. The information is just others' experience, and invitation for you to make your own path. In a sense, many of the contradictions you mention james are true. It is left to you to grab ahold of what resonates deeply with you, forget and ignore anything which slows you down, and go all the way. You'll learn things which no one has articulated yet.

    Kati, nowa and plum like this.
  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Darling, this is easily one of the best posts I’ve ever read here. It’s a beauty and an exceptional resource for the inevitable period of confusion we all seem to go through at some point.

    Bless you ❤️
  8. Duggit

    Duggit Well known member

    A closed chapter? It does not work like that, at least not for most people who are successful in treating their TMS and/or TMS equivalents. Even Dr. Sarno, as skilled as he was at treating TMS and its equivalents, had his own recurring episodes of heartburn due to repressed anger. See for example Healing Back Pain p. 45 and The Divided Mind pp. 125-26. Success in treating one's TMS means that when an episode hits, you can usually end it pretty quickly by figuring out who you are angry at and why (or by similar psychological work).
    plum and nowa like this.
  9. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have little to add to what @miffybunny and others wrote. Miffy is brilliant in her understanding of TMS and in her ability to explain the concepts and others who spoke before me are among the deepest thinkers on this forum.

    But let me try.
    Each one of us is a unique combination of personality, genetics and life experiences. There is absolutely no one-size-fits-all approach. For some, there is a smoking gun of a specific child abuse situation which became a trigger, for others it is a slow drip of small traumas that eventually opens a floodgate and causes a breakdown of the mindbody. Once the system is broken, each one of us has to find a way to repair it, and it would be unique for each person.
    Anxiety is invariably linked to to TMS, as it is one of the primal emotions and is a part of an evolutionary warning mechanism. Without anxiety, animals cannot escape dangers. Both anxiety and pain are warning signals generated in the brain to protect us from dangers; memories of past dangers being stored in our brains and arising when conditions are similar to the dangers of the past. It is bad when signals go into overdrive and eventually evolve into physical pain and general anxiety syndrome or depression.
    So, in a way, TMS is a deliberate evolutionary mechanism gone a bit too far. TMS personality is such that we focus on the dangers more than other people with lighter personalities. So, for many of us, a solution is to focus less. There is no contradiction here. I personally struggled a lot with this particular one. Ignoring the pain is hard and really unproductive, so I tried not to ignore pain but rather focus on my emotional health. That took my attention from immediate issue (pain) but served a long-term goal - balancing my nervous system. By the way, if pain becomes too much, there is no shame in taking an OTC painkiller here and there.
    What I discovered after a year of working through my TMS was that "need to get back into living vs. you are too type A and need to take a break and chill" should read "need to get back into living while being more chill". I did not become less of a type A, but I became more aware that I am type A and developed a longer pause before letting myself to fly off the handle. I learned that by giving a longer pause I create fewer self-inflicted injuries which causes fewer triggers for anxiety and pain and give myself more time to think up a better way out of the problem.
    There is a huge difference between distraction and conscious awareness of your situation while working through the situation without being too emotionally involved in it. Kinda looking on the situation from outside and understanding why you are reacting the way you do. Distraction, on the contrary, means pushing the unresolved situation deeper into the back storage of the brain. That ends up" catching up with you when you run out of gas", as you pointed out quite insightfully.
    "Purpose vs free from purpose pressures" - that is a very good question. Purposeless life is not a good life to live. The lesson that I learned from my experience is that it is not about whether we have a purpose or not, but how we go about achieving a purpose that we found for ourselves. The more we obsess about fulfilling our purpose precisely in a way we had envisioned for ourselves some days or years prior, the more likely we are destined for disappointments, sense of failure and rise in anxiety. Dr. Sarno called it outcome independence. Athletes know very well that the more they worry about the result as they go through their Olympic race, routine or game, the more likely they are to fail. Only when they are absorbed in the flow of doing what they are doing and not worry about the outcome, they are more likely to achieve our purpose. It is not the skill, it is the ability to not freak out over potential error what sets a gold medal apart from no medal for an Olympian.
    There is absolutely no contradiction between working on irrational thinking and emotional work. It has been proven by many studies that humans are making emotional decisions more often that rational decisions. Only if you recognize both, you have a full picture in front of you.
    On stretching you got plenty of thoughtful advice already, but I will only add that mind and body both need stretching. We are biologically designed for being physically active but in the past few thousand years we surrounded ourselves with civilization which robbed us of physical activity. In order to be balanced, mindbody needs to work in each and every way, but first it needs to get into a balanced state. Now that I became aware of myself, thanks to Dr. Sarno and all the people who helped me to recover, I maintain myself in a much better mental state by exercising. If I neglect my mindbody for a week or two, it responds with stiffness, both physical and mental. I am more fit and active now than before getting very sick, and that is what keeps me healthy!

    "After healing, why stick around?" - many people healed and moved on. I speculate that those who really hit the bottom with sickness , like miffy, plum, Andy and myself, were shaken so deeply that we took our recovery as a path of self-exploration and renewed purpose in life. In addition to being mad like hell at the mainstream medicine that uses barbaric means like ketamine shots and "denervation procedure" (you can google CRPS and denervation at your leisure) and wanting to liberate people entrapped in the business surrounding CRPS, I come back to answer good questions like yours for the purpose of deepening my self-awareness and satisfying my natural curiosity about the world and myself. To me, TMS is a window into a fascinating world of neuroscience, psychology and philosophy.

    So, thank you for asking and best of luck to you!
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
    Northwood, plum, nowa and 1 other person like this.
  10. nowa

    nowa Peer Supporter

    '9.). This needs to be a combo. I had to change my thought patterns" how did you do that Miffy? I am trying to stop my negative thought patterns that happen every day, except when I get a rare good night's sleep, I can't seem to believe it when I try to change my thoughts to I feel well and happy, instead of I feel so crap today, etc etc
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
    miffybunny likes this.
  11. miffybunny

    miffybunny Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi nowa!

    So this is where we get down to the nitty gritty. Changing our chronic negative thought patterns is equally as important as allowing ourselves to feel emotions and knowing that emotions are safe. All of our physical symptoms are a direct result of how we think and how we are being in that moment. Our bodies are a direct extension of our thoughts. So the first step is becoming aware (which it sounds like you are!). The second step is to start creating new "stories" in our heads and more open thought patterns . This is the magical moment where we go from awareness to "redirecting". The question is how? In the example you gave, it's not going to work because that's a "positive Pollyanna" type of switch. It's too drastic and your brain won't buy into that for one second lol! So if you are thinking "How will I ever get better? This sucks, How am I going to fix this? I can't take it anymore. I hate this freaking pain. Will I ever be normal again? What if this is forever and I'm doomed? Why is this so hard? What am I doing wrong? I've tried everything! How long is this going to take?? I've been journaling for a year! Why isn't this working?? Aaahhh I hate my life!! If this only went away my life would be great!" etc etc. If you try to go from THAT negative thought vortex TO: "I feel well, I'm so happy happy!! Yay!! Life is awesome!" ...it won't work because your brain will think "Dream on! Yeah right!! That's a totally ridiculous lie!" lol

    So, rather than trying to do a 180 from the habitual negative thought loop, redirect to thoughts that generate a feeling of relief....better feeling thoughts like: "I know what this is... these pain sensations are just a signal for me to pay attention to what I'm feeling. Am I feeling anger or resentment about the past? (something that happened earlier today?) or am I worrying about the future? (something to do with work or relationships or finances?). Realize that you are generating tension with these past and future thought loops. What these thought patterns do is cause us to repress negative emotions which then get stuck as energy in the body. Feel the emotion and then begin the work of changing the thoughts in order to get unstuck. So where to start? I suggest focus on breathing and bring yourself to the PRESENT moment first. Then think of things that provide relief like "I am clearing out these old thought patterns and I'm going to handle whatever comes. I am doing my best and and I'm going to do something I enjoy or that brings me meaning". At this point you resume the activity you were doing before you got distracted or you act on something you need to do (like tell someone how you felt when they did xyz or tell someone what you need from them, or do that thing you were afraid to do, or resolve to do whatever scary thing is looming in your future and tell yourself you will handle it when the time comes. Whatever happens you will handle it). So its: awareness, feeling the emotion, redirecting the thought to a better feeling thought and finally putting the new thought into action (or just going about your day).

    Reversing TMS is a gradual process of cleaning out old rubbish thought patterns. The more consistently you do it, the more it becomes automatic. It's exactly like learning how to play a new song on the piano. This is how I did it with patience and practice, practice, practice. It is slow going in the beginning but then you build momentum over time and it becomes almost like breathing. This is how the pain strategy gets reversed over time. Always stay in the present moment (TMS lives in the past and future) and maintain an attitude of indifference to the TMS. Don't make it this big huge deal, because it's NOT. It's only a big deal in our mind but in actuality it's like the little guy behind the curtain in "The Wizard of Oz" with a microphone. Pull the curtain back and see it for what it is. It's just you....scared. Our thoughts really do create our reality. Give up the fight with the TMS. There is nothing to fear or fight anymore.

  12. nowa

    nowa Peer Supporter

    Thank you very very much MiffyBunny...that is such a clear response!!
    miffybunny likes this.
  13. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    You are the best miffybunny
    miffybunny likes this.
  14. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Hi, All,

    I'd like to thank EVERYBODY on this thread for the thoughtful questions and insightful responses:) A special shout-out to Miffy Bunny. Along with what others have said, I'm grateful that YOU return to this forum and share what you learned. I copy especially helpful passages from the posts to a Word document so I can reflect on them. I've got many Miffy Bunny passages. :)

    To anyone who finds this thread really helpful, I want to draw your attention to a related thread full of similar great questions and responses: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/tms-vs-neuroplasticity-vs-somatic-tracking.23179/#post-119722 (TMS vs. neuroplasticity vs. somatic tracking). Between these two posts I've gained a lot of insights into how to find my own way into working with TMS. Miffy Bunny's "both/and" vs "either/or" reminds me not to be too rigid or compartmental in my thinking, to be more "organically present" as I explore various ideas and put a "practice" together.

    I will put out there--at the moment--I'm grappling with my own TMS 101 question about sources: structural vs. psychological. Over the years, I've worked with PT's and deep body workers and done all kinds of stretching/strengthening exercises, and enjoyed periods of stability because of that. Recently though I have not been able to relieve my symptoms (which have become more persistent over the past year). I just haven't been able to quite give up the thought that I'm just one modality away from getting the right muscles stretched or strengthened which will make my core stable and diminish the pain. That hope continues to compel me to want to address structure along with the TMS component (which I'm putting a ton time into). As it is, I stretch daily to keep loose and because I enjoy it, but also as a way to manage pain. So I'm struggling with what position and direction I should take. Do I need to let go of ALL belief in a structural source/contribution to my pain; is my ambivalence an impediment to my recovery -- or, as Miffy might say, to my recognition of the recovery I already have? I'm thinking so, but I'd really welcome any of you to weigh in with your insights, experience, and advice. I could use the counsel.

    I think I'm at a juncture with my TMS work. I've gathered a lot of information and now I'm applying it, synthesizing approaches, building a way to get through this. But for all the reading and reflecting I've done (I've built up quite a little TMS library), the possible structural contribution to my pain continues to preoccupy and trouble me.

    Anyway, this post really speaks to where I'm at in so many ways. Great opening question james, thanks!
  15. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Northwood,
    I used to think like that and then my aunt went into retirement accommodation by the sea and I saw that she and her fellow residents - all of whom were extremely decrepit-looking (crooked and/or bent over spines, limps etc) - either weren't in any pain or certainly weren't in as much pain as me and were leading far more active lives than me because, although suffering from stiff joints and muscles, their discomfort was relatively minor by comparison. When gently questioned in conversation whilst on an afternoon walk - during a 'pit stop' for me (not them!) to 'take a breather' - I discovered that my aunt and her numerous chums weren't on any strong pain medications either, so that didn't explain their relative lack of pain. Of course, I'm not suggesting that one shouldn't exercise and keep muscles strong especially as we age, but I'm sure that my aunt's and her friends' core stability was a lot to be desired.

    I think body work must bring oxygen to the tissues (counteracting at least to a certain extent the hypoxia caused by the brain that Sarno talks about) and then there's the possibility of it (the body work) causing a temporary kind of pseudo 'placebo effect' (for want of a better way of putting it) due to the attention of someone professional and confident concentrating on us and our symptoms and essentially 'caring' for us and giving us hope that there is something physical going on that can be rectified. Being involved in exercises and attending sessions etc., can also serve to temporarily direct the brain/mind's attention away from one's psychological troubles, interrupting and reducing negative and/or fearful thinking, which could also reduce symptoms due to some parts of the brain being less perturbed...But then it begs the question: why isn't all of this working for you now?...Could it be that other things are now also going in your life that you are not happy with 'at your core' or maybe old emotional stuff has intensified and your brain/mind is ringing alarm bells, 'screaming' and 'shouting' even louder than before and/or neural pathways have become more deeply rutted concerning these matters, rendering the physical measures you are taking far less effective, even though they are still bringing some oxygen to your tissues?
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
    Northwood likes this.
  16. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    As always, appreciate YOUR comments. Thinking, feeling, thinking about all of this--what you're getting at, both the logic of it and the dithering I contend with--and how best to proceed. Will be PM'ing you soon. :)
    BloodMoon likes this.
  17. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    I think about this. Baseball65 has pointed this out concerning his own condition--structural anomalies that you would think would cause pain but now no longer do (post-Sarno), plus all the cases Sarno describes, challenging the connection between various structural issues and pain symptoms

    I wonder how much hip alignment/misalignment can play in causing chronic pain. I'll meditate on those old ladies, add that to my inner conversation with Baseball's experience and insight.
    BloodMoon likes this.
  18. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    I'll have to see. Have pressed the elevator button to go down another floor into the unconscious. Will report back when I get there.
  19. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    I joke--a good thing--but it IS confusing, tough to sort out. (Will keep at it.)
    BloodMoon likes this.
  20. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    If I remember correctly, @Baseball65 has said that he has one leg one or two inches shorter than the other and that would certainly cause misalignment of the hips/pelvis.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020

Share This Page