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Daniel L. What kind of self-talk helps gets rid of pain?

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Hey there,
    I am a recent TMS believer and am working hard to embrace, understand and accept the mind body connection and philosophy. I am 44 and live in an extremely active community, no place or time for pain....but I suffer, mostly in my knees and IT bands...total pain in the ass for a skier, hiker, mt biker.
    I try not to get into my head too much and think about the pain, but it is very hard, then I laugh at it, then I acknowledge it and then I try to move on....but then there's the conundrum, because I feel I have reinforced it, brought it to the surface, given it the attention I DON"T want to give it....
    What do you say to yourself and what does it sound like in YOUR head when you feel pain??? I am hearing a lot of convincing talk about why I should self talk, but what does that sound like???
    thanks for your time, I love your advice in this forum!
    Mt. mama....
    Wow - Really?! and IrishSceptic like this.
  2. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    Self-talk is a wonderful tool. It helps you change the relationship you have with yourself on both a conscious and unconscious level. And we give it the cheesy name of “self-talk” but really it is just a simplistic way of thinking about the way we want to treat ourselves.

    Before people have an awareness of TMS, they often times aren’t conscious of the messages that they’re sending themselves. Now that you’re conscious of it, what should you say?

    First, however, I want to point something out:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you’re putting a ton of pressure on yourself. It seems like you’re the type of person that loves to be doing tons of activities and keep busy. That’s great, but you might be falling into the trap of putting tons of pressure on yourself. So the first thing I’d suggest you do is to be persistent about relieving the pressure you put on yourself.

    If you notice yourself saying “I really should…” about anything, then stop yourself. Using the words should or shouldn’t is putting a ton of pressure on you.

    Another way of thinking about pressure: Externalize it. If you wouldn’t like if it someone said to you “You need to do this, this, and this today,” then why would you say it to yourself? I’d encourage you to pay close attention to that, because pressure can be extremely harmful.

    But that’s not for when the pain is present – let’s talk about that:

    When you’re in the middle of pain and you’re feeling overwhelmed by it, here are some options of what you can say to yourself:

    “I know what you are. You are just TMS trying to scare me and I won’t be scared by you.”

    “You can’t trick me – I know exactly what is going on here.”

    Some people appreciate the John Sarno route: “I know what you are – you are just oxygen deprivation to my knees and IT band. I won’t let you stop me from doing what I want to be doing.”

    OR, many people find it useful to talk back to their pain in an aggressive way:

    “Stop trying to bully me – I know exactly what you are and I won’t let you do this to me anymore.”

    Sometimes people have benefited from swearing at their pain, and allowing themselves to be angry at their pain.

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter what words you use, as long as you decrease the fear associated with the pain and increase your confidence in the fact that the pain will go away. And the most important thing is to do this patiently and persistently. Patiently and Persistently.

    I’d love to hear what other things people say to themselves. There are so many different routes to go, and each person is different in what they need.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    clairem, tarala, mike2014 and 4 others like this.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Right on,. Daniel. Patience and persistence, coupled with total belief in TMS, is how the pain goes away.

    I do some self-talk, to tell myself and my subconscious there is nothing to fear,
    but I also SELF-LAUGH. Nothing bothers me for long if I laugh it away and laugh at myself.
    Wow - Really?!, clairem, yb44 and 2 others like this.
  4. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    I used to go into a particular small supermarket which brought on dizzy spells. I would brace myself quickly getting what I needed, and once outside, would feel fine again. After many months of this, I was so fed up one day, I just said to myself, OK bring it on, give me what you've got, I can take the dizziness, it is harmless. I deliberately went to the aisle that sells beer (I don't drink beer!), and said, I am now going to read and look at all the different brands. Well guess what happened....yep, all symptoms stopped and I felt fine. I then laughed.
  5. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    Walt, I couldn't agree more. I have pretty strong opinions regarding the necessity of more laughter in all of our lives. :)
    Anne Walker likes this.
  6. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    What a great thread! I love the question and Daniel's answer was awesome! I personally tend to give my pain the silent treatment because when I used to spend a lot of time screaming at it and talking to it, I realized I was still spending too much time focused on it. I had one of my classic right sided head aches the other day and the first thing I noticed was some of my fear based thoughts "What if there really is something wrong with me? What if it gets worse than it ever has before, how am I going to handle it?' I could go on because it truly is amazing how quickly my mind can spin off and how many catastrophic things I can come up with. But now I am aware and as I start to go down that road, I now have the ability more often than not, to stop and go in another direction. "oh, here I am in pain, worrying like crazy, what is going on that is upsetting me or causing me stress?" Usually I can identify something but I don't then expect the pain to suddenly go away. I don't monitor it! I might say something like "I have had this headache before and it has gone away so I have ever reason to believe it will go away again." Then I focus on how to make myself a little more comfortable (taking a bath, drinking some tea, watching a movie, taking my puppy outside to play...) Usually its the next day when I look back and think "oh good, my headache is gone." or "my wrist doesn't hurt anymore" or "my chest doesn't feel so tight and I can breathe again." Its like falling asleep. Its hard to be conscious of that moment when you actually fall asleep and the more you fret and think about it, the less likely it is to happen. I think the self talk is important but especially noticing the destructive self talk... the shoulds, catastrophic, anxious, bullying.... I like how Daniel said to think about how you would feel if someone else was saying it to you. Why do we accept so much nagging abuse from ourselves?
    So ask yourself if there is some other way to look at it. We want proof that it is TMS, well, how about proof that it isn't TMS? What are we actually gaining from all of the doubt? Usually I am protecting myself from fear. Fear that the pain will get worse, that I won't figure out the life threatening cause that needs to be discovered, fear that I won't be able to handle I don't even know what... But as Zumbafan has discovered is that when you let go of that fear and stand up to it, it goes away. You have to do that when you feel ready to do it though, and its okay if your're not ready yet. I have told this story before, but many years ago my ex husband was on our roof cleaning up leaves. He wanted me to come up and help with something. I climbed the ladder and as I was about to get on the roof, I was seized with panic and I couldn't do it. He felt I had to overcome my fear and he tried to pull me up. I told him to stop and became violently angry. I climbed down from the ladder and started crying. I was very puzzled why I had the reaction I did. Then several years later my mother asked me to come to see her therapist with my oldest brother. I agreed for her sake. In the therapy session my brother for some strange reason told a story about how when I was very little and we had a second story playroom, he one day put me out on the roof while my parents were downstairs. He said he locked the window and I just cried and cried. I am not sure how old I was but he was 4 years older. So maybe I was two and he was 6. I don't know. I know when I first started consciously working on my TMS healing I would read all these stories about people ignoring and screaming at their pain, never giving up, facing their fears, and somehow becoming pain free and healing from TMS. It took me a while to realize how much pressure I was putting on myself to challenge my fear and recover from TMS in a certain way. Its like my ex-husband trying to pull me onto the roof. We all have our individual histories and we need to face our fears on our own terms. I have definitely found my brave moments and faced many of my fears. But in choosing my own time and way to do it, those times have been empowering, not terrifying. Zumbafan waited months and on that day was fed up and ready. If we trust ourselves, we know when that day is and try not to beat yourself up if this is not the day. It will come. Okay, I know the topic was self talk and I got off track. But I totally agree with Daniel. Pay attention to when the self talk is just adding more pressure and there are no shoulds about it.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015
    Lavender, Barb M., tarala and 4 others like this.
  7. yb44

    yb44 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I had an experience similar to Zumbafan. I was convinced that strong scents caused me an immediate reaction in the form of a migraine. One day I walked into a store full of smelly candles and incense, taking deep breaths as I strode along the aisles. When that migraine didn't turn up the theory was suddenly disproved.

    I tried getting angry and shouting at my brain but that just got my all hyped up. I leaned that a calm, gentle approach is what I need, as if talking to my inner child who feels frightened.
    Durga, Barb M., tarala and 4 others like this.

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