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What is your TMS saying to YOU?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by AndrewMillerMFT, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member

    Hello all,

    Some of you may know me from my posts here and I just wanted to introduce that I am working on a series of exercises to add to the growing interventions that people have used to successfully reduce TMS symptoms.

    One such exercise that I wanted to share with you today is asking: What is my TMS trying to tell me? Many of you are already familiar with a number of journaling techniques in relation to the SEP and many other workbooks. This technique is one more journaling exercise that can expand awareness.

    1) Sit down to journal and imagine your TMS in your mind's eye. You can close your eyes to do this but some of us prefer to keep our eyes open. When you imagine your TMS, allow your mind to explore freely and see if it takes a form beyond the pain, the symptom itself. Is it anthropomorphic? Does it take the shape of a person in your life or an animal, a place, an entity? Allow your imagination to run wild. One client of mine imagined it as a bear that was crushing her body with it's paws. She had a significant amount of neuropathy all over her body.
    2) Write out a description of the TMS at the top of your paper. Try to describe what it looks like, sounds like, feels like here.

    3) Start a dialogue on paper with the TMS. What does it say to you? What do you say in return to it? What does it want? What does it need? How does it feel about you? How do you feel about it? Whenever you feel lost in this conversation, close your eyes again and review the description at the top of your paper.

    This exercise is a unique opportunity to explore the underlying characteristics that feed your TMS. Clients often find insight into deep patterns of self-loathing, fear, lack of self-care, and direction towards taking action in life. This last one can be important as sometimes there are nagging issues that need to be addressed in some way (not necessarily eliminated) to affect change in TMS symptoms.

    If you're open to it, I encourage anyone to try this and I would love to get feedback on how the experience is for you.

    If at any point the exercise becomes too activating, please stop and contact your doctor or mental health profession.

    Best of luck in your healing journey,

  2. SunnyinFL

    SunnyinFL Well known member

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks so much for sharing your information with us. I've learned a lot from reading your posts and watching your videos.

    As you have suggested, I have already posed the question to myself - What is my TMS telling me? - but, not as a formal exercise - just simply sitting with the question and letting my mind wander or simply asking the question before I go to bed at night and seeing what comes up in my dreams. From my experience, answering this question has been pivotal. It has been especially helpful for me to ask my TMS: what do I need or NOT need, what do I want or NOT want, what do I need to do or NOT to do? I've posed these questions with a open mind, essentially being willing to examine every aspect of my life. I have not done this as a journaling exercise per se; I have just kept an ongoing (and growing) list of ideas that float up.

    I fully, 100%+ agree with your statement about developing insight into what the TMS is signaling about what actions I need to take in my life -- that is, as you state:
    "This last one [actions that need to be taken] can be important as sometimes there are nagging issues that need to be addressed in some way (not necessarily eliminated) to affect change in TMS symptoms."

    For me (and I'm guessing for others), doing the work to find insights into my patterns of thinking and emotional reactions (i.e., the ones you mentioned - loathing, fear - and so on) has involved a lot of looking both backward (my childhood, the past, traumas, etc) and inward (looking at my emotions, how I'm feeling, what I'm thinking). It's easy to get stuck in my own head and body when I'm analyzing and developing a broader understanding of myself. In contrast, asking about what actions I need to take pulls me back into the present (listing what actions I need to and want to take, now) and keeps me looking toward the future (hopefully, living a life more of my conscious choosing than a life of reacting to triggers, old patterns, and habitual behaviors). This is the aspect of recovering that I've found the most life changing - for example, it lead me to do a fair amount of what I call "house cleaning" - who do I need to go thank? who do I owe an apology to? what boundaries do I need to draw? what relationships need to be halted, repaired, or renewed? I'm certainly not done - this is an ongoing journey for me.

    So, in short, I think you've made a very important point. Part of recovery is looking back and in; but, taking what we've learned and acting on it is what seems to be life changing for me.

    Thanks again for your commitment to TMS and all of your contributions to this community!
    Grateful17, JanAtheCPA and mike2014 like this.
  3. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member

    Thanks for the feedback, Sunny. It really sounds like so much more than just your TMS symptoms have changed for you. Sounds fantastic!

    Changing our lives for the better is a wonderful and powerful side-effect of dealing with TMS symptoms.
    Forest and SunnyinFL like this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I thank you two for your posts and videos, Andrew.

    I'm really enjoying the mindful meditation sessions. Living in the present and deep breathing are my favorite TMS calming things.
  5. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    calming techniques.

    Calming Techniques That Help With Stress, Anxiety
    By Kim Tranell

    We asked top meditation and mindfulness pros for their best on-the-spot, do-anywherecalming techniques-- because who has time for chanting "om" when you're about to lose it?

    1. Count Your Breaths
    Best For: Surviving Red-Alert Emergencies
    When it comes to calming down, deep breathing is still the place to start. "By forcing yourself to breathe as you do in your most relaxed moments, you trick your body into releasing calming neurohormones, causing a biological shift in how you feel," says psychotherapist Belleruth Naparstek, a leader in the field of guided imagery. "Just inhale and feel your abdomen expand. Go as slowly as possible, counting in -- 1-2-3. Then, observe the turn of your breath, and breathe it out -- 1-2-3. Whether you do this for one minute or five, it's going to bring you to a calmer place."

    2. Be Here Now
    Best For: Combating Worst-Case-Scenario Anxiety
    "Our minds are constantly in the past or the future -- we'll ruminate on what's too late to change or catastrophize about what hasn't happened yet," says Diana Winston, a director at the UCLAMindfulAwarenessResearchCenter and coauthor ofFully Present. "But the more you practice coming back to the present, the less anxious you'll feel. For example, when I wash dishes, instead of letting my mind wander to all my worries, I really try to show up and pay attention to the sensations of the task -- the water, the heat, the plate in my hand. Eyes open or closed okay.”

    3. Flex And Release
    Best For: Letting Go Of Work Tension
    "Start by clenching the muscles in your forehead and face as you take a breath and hold it for a moment," says Nina Smiley, Ph.D., coauthor ofThe Three Minute Meditator. "As you release the tension, exhale fully and relax. Work your way down your body, repeating the process. The tightening and releasing is a physical cue to the body to let stress go."
  6. Markus

    Markus Guest

    Going to try this tomorrow when i have some quiet time.
    Thanks, Markus
    SunnyinFL and AndrewMillerMFT like this.
  7. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    Andrew, I tried your exercise, since I still get hung up with a few family members. I came to the conclusion, of letting go of all attachments, which surprised me! Now I am wondering, isn't that disloyal?
    SunnyinFL likes this.
  8. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member

    I'm so happy to hear the feedback guys!

    Of course, now that you've gained this additional information, the question becomes how to act on it. Zumba, your work may be around really metabolizing detaching from family members and how you view that as disloyal. A good portion of your TMS may be generated by the conflict of what you need to do for yourself in terms of self-care and how your value of loyalty impedes that.

    Conflicting value systems play a large role for many TMS suffers. TMS becomes the distraction from the civil war playing out inside!
    Zumbafan and SunnyinFL like this.
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    My mother wanted the family to have unions every Sunday at her house. Gads, it was boring... same relatives every Sunday complaining they
    hated their jobs and just watching sports on tv and drinking, drinking. I slowed down on those to once a month and then every few months and then just holidays. I felt guilty, but needed to cut the chord and it gave me more time for a fuller life.
    Misha and SunnyinFL like this.
  10. Markus

    Markus Guest

    This is really an excellent excercise. I talked to my TMS and it's the first time in,well maybe since i started that tears welled up and I felt totally emotional.
    SunnyinFL likes this.
  11. SunnyinFL

    SunnyinFL Well known member

    Hi Zumba,

    What you're saying makes sense to me and I think probably everyone has at least one person in their family that is an "issue." I'm wondering about your question - and that makes me wonder what you mean when you say, "letting go of all attachments." I've heard people say that in different contexts, and with different meanings. So, I'm wondering what your conclusion is about how to let go of all attachments - what does that look like for you? And, no, I don't think it is "disloyal" - whatever your definition is - because it seems more important to follow your own inner wisdom.
  12. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    Hi Sunny, well Andrew was right about the civil war playing out inside. I am tired of "people pleasing" some family members, particularly when my needs go unmet. My coping strategy in the past was to not ask for anything. I used to think it was selfish to ask for what I needed. So for me, letting go of all attachments means, don't worry about trying to please them, let them live their lives as they wish. Respect their views and choices without me trying to help, or rescue things. Also accepting that my concerns were probably not wanted anyway!
    Is that similar to your understanding?
    SunnyinFL likes this.
  13. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    The old Shakespeare saying still is good advice... "To thine own self be true."

    We can please some of the people some of the time, Lincoln said. You know the rest.
    Trying to please everyone is bound to be impossible.

    I think that pleasing those we can is the best way, and forget trying to please the others.
  14. SunnyinFL

    SunnyinFL Well known member

    Hi Zumba,
    Yes, your explanation makes total sense to me. I think all of us TMSers have spent a lot of time "people pleasing," as you say, and not asking for what we needed. Someone or something in our past (consciously or subconsciously) probably made us feel unworthy of having our own needs and not daring to ask that they be met. I definitely think it's healthy to not worry about pleasing them, not to rescue things, and accepting that they will live their lives as they wish. I don't know that you necessarily need to respect their choices - just accepting that they are their choices for their lives and you get to make your own choices for your life. My idea of letting go of attachments changes with the situation. For example, for non-relatives that I never have to see again, it might be choosing to eliminate them from my life and to head in a different direction. For relatives, I felt I needed to first take a step back and have no contact and then, when I was ready, step back in and re-connect - but, only on terms that I consciously decided were right for me and healthy for me. For me, the main thing was to be able to act from my conscious brain and making conscious choices in the present instead of being reactive or responding to old triggers and wounds from the past. It's definitely a process, not a one-and-done thing. Does that make sense? Does it answer your question?
  15. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    Walt, I never understood that Shakespeare quote, "to thine own self be true", until I started reading and understanding SteveO's book. Thanks for the reminder.

    Sunny, yes, your reply answers my question. Thanks for mentioning it's a process, the perfectionist me wants it done and dusted!
    Also, I found doing the exercise, revealed how much energy I waste passing judgement on things and people. "Let it go" has more meaning now.
  16. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member

    Hello all, with the advent of the new year I thought I would comment/repost this in case anyone wanted to experiment and try this journaling technique.

    Best of luck to you all in your TMS journey in this coming year!


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