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Why am I still in pain? Why doesn't it work?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by tattvamasi, Jun 10, 2015.

  1. tattvamasi

    tattvamasi Peer Supporter

    There is a general misconception about TMS that is the reason why people are having trouble and are on this forum, searching for help. I am trying my best to explain things so that hopefully, some of you can see the error in your thinking.

    Dr. Sarno discovered that people who are prone to TMS tend to have certain personality traits. These traits include being perfectionistic, worrying, trying to control things, putting pressure on yourself to succeed, being good to other people instead of being real, etc. The general feeling of someone with those personality characteristics is of someone who is in constant stress and worry. You probably are someone who just can't relax, can't let it go. You are always searching for answers, you just can't let things be as they are. You want control over life and over yourself. EFFORT is what defines you. I would also call this the "no pain, no gain" personality. It's the constant self-imposed pressure that you put on yourself. You actually are tense all over, it's not just pain that you have. But as your belief system dictates to you, "no pain no gain", so you believe that in order to accomplish things, you HAVE to be this way.

    This constant self-imposed pressure produces unconscious rage, as Dr. Sarno has discovered. If you think of it only in terms of anger, you are slightly misguided. What is meant by the rage is just massive emotional energy, anger, sadness, everything mixed together. People make up labels and then say that this is anger, this is sadness. But feelings are more like a spectrum of energy. It does not really matter where you put anger or where you put sadness on that spectrum, it's basically all the same energy and "anger" and "sadness" are just labels. And when you put pressure on yourself, you are generating LOTS of that emotional energy internally. This energy, when expressed, can cause lots of trouble. You might start to cry, get angry at someone, you might even want to beat someone up or beat yourself up. Anyway, the possibility exists that this emotional energy could cause trouble.

    Now, here is where you lock yourself into TMS pain. First you put pressure on yourself, which creates unconscious rage. The rage needs to be repressed, so your brain creates some symptom, like back pain, in order to distract you. It creates something for you to focus on, so that you won't experience your rage. Due to your personality, you not only are distracted for the time that it is needed for you to be distracted, but you get HOOKED on the pain. You are perfectionistic, so you can not allow yourself to have pain, because pain is not part of you being perfect. So you start fighting it with all you've got. The problem is that you are always fighting. First you worry about some things in your life, you try to fight them, you try to control them. Then you get pain and you start fighting the pain. Some people get so deep that their whole life revolves around pain. EVERYTHING they do is in some way related to the pain. This is the worst case scenario of being completely hooked.

    So, by trying to get rid of the pain, first you probably go the usual route. You go to doctors and you try to do everything to get rid of the pain. Then you realize it's not helping and you find out about TMS. So far, so good. But then you learn about TMS and you continue trying to solve things with your fight-fight-fight attitude. What is the message of Dr. Sarno? If anything, it is to realize that there is nothing wrong with your body, the pain is due to psychological processes, so stop fighting it and it will go away. But you don't get the message, because it is incompatible with your mindset. Your mindset dictates that everything in life can only be accomplished by effort. No pain, no gain. So you can't possibly understand the message which tells you to go the other way, to let go of the obsession. Instead, you get the typical message from Dr. Sarno that you must do this and do that. You get the message that you need to think about the rage and the reasons for it every minute, every second of your day. And that is exactly what is still keeping you in pain.

    So I hope I inspired some of you to take a look at your thinking processes and hopefully start to see things in a new light.
    intense50, gipfel65, Katya and 33 others like this.
  2. Beamandme

    Beamandme New Member

    Thank you for the clarity. I could not have described myself better. :)
  3. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    @tattvamasi I'm interested in hearing your TMS story if you are willing to share it.
    Phaedrus likes this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I also think Tattvanasi has written one of the best explanations of TMS. I'm storing it for future reading.
    I agree that constantly thinking about the psychological causes of pain keeps it coming.
    I believe in discovering the TMS causes of the pain, accepting that it 100 percent TMS and not structural,
    and then go on living in the present... doing and thinking things that make me feel good and happy.
    I thank God that He made me a writer. I am always working on a new book, even though it may never
    get published or make me a dime. It keeps my mind busy and off of my worries.

    And like Ellen I would like to know Tattvanasi's TMS story. I think it helps everyone to know what
    were the TMS psychological reasons for someone's pain and what TMS techniques or knowledge healed them.
  5. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Tattvamasi,

    I appreciate your post. The quote above is great. When we start working with anything: our perfectionism, our Inner Critic, our habits (I mean this list as beyond, and including TMS work), we can only at the start bring all our patterns into it. This is natural. What more do we have to work with then the very "approach" that got us into "this mess?" And when we are suffering, such as in pain, we are all the more desperate, worked up, and more prone to apply our stress-fueled, more rigid tools.

    In my experience the sensible way to deal with this is to observe, hopefully without judgement. Observe the unskillful, habitual patterns we bring to bear in an effort to "improve" (again in any realm, including and beyond TMS). With observation, what works for me is to use the "paradoxical theory of change" which is "don't fight it, and it will relax on its own." This approach takes a certain steadfastness, and it takes work with the Superego. I defend my space to reject and struggle, and effort, and have all my "wrong patterns."

    In a sense this may be part of what you are saying about the mistakes we make in our personal Sarno approach. We try too hard, and this slows progress. I am also saying that for me, the way to work with "trying to hard" is not to "try hard to stop trying hard." With observation and awareness and time, we see more clearly the suffering we are causing ourselves, and the habits that cause the suffering tend to relax, dissipate.

    For me, as I began to digest Dr. Sarno's work, and have some success, I backed off doing too much. I journalled a little, I stopped coming to the forum, I read the 12 daily reminders. I worked gently to increase my activity. My whole life had been revolving around pain, and I was desperate to have it end. But when the relief started, I held it all with a pretty light hand.

    I could see the way my personality deals with things: efforting, perfectionism, constantly measuring and comparing progress, and Dr. Sarno said this was probably the root of my TMS. So as you suggest, I made space for progress, and did not push it. I think that some good breakthroughs in the beginning helped this. I sort of trusted that the activity of unraveling TMS had been started, and much of it would continue down deep, without efforting. This is the way I dealt with my propensities that you speak of. Each person has to work with your teaching about this in their own way.

    Andy B.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
    plum, Kathleen, James59 and 1 other person like this.
  6. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    Thank you for posting this. You said "your mindset dictates that everything in life can only be accomplished by effort". I realise it is not becoming better. It is unbecoming things you aren't. Surely doing this requires effort?
  7. tattvamasi

    tattvamasi Peer Supporter

    Andy, that is what I am talking about. You have to sort of find the "gentle way" of doing things. Not only in regards of dealing with TMS, but in everything you do. But you can't tell people to relax like it is something they can DO. It can be learned, yes, but you can't DO it, just like you can't will yourself to fall asleep, it has to happen. You can gently make things so that you get sleepy and eventually fall asleep, but you can't DO it like you pick up a bag. The more you TRY to fall asleep, the more you obsess over it, the worse it gets. Until you get so tired that you just let it go and eventually fall asleep. But then it just happens, you see, you didn't DO it. To fall asleep requires you to fully trust the process, and that is the opposite of anxiety.

    Zumbafan, of course you need to use effort when dealing with physical things. This is USEFUL effort, you force your muscles to contract and thus you can pick up a heavy bag for example. From this we learn that using effort gets us what we want. But there are other things in life where using effort is absolutely useless and just wastes your energy, creates stress, and, as you already know, pain and other physical symptoms. Imagine a situation when you are on a plane, taking off, and you realize that the plane has gone too far down the runway without pulling up and you start worrying whether something might be wrong. So you start pulling at your seatbelt. You begin to tense up your muscles, you start to panic. Perfectly useless, but this is what we do without ever thinking about how useless such an activity is. Fear and anger are examples of emotions that make you tense up. And if you think about situations where you tense up, you will realize that it actually does not help you at all, in fact it may make things worse. By becoming aware of this tension, you can GENTLY start to let go, piece by piece, and instead of tensing up, you let it go, accept the worst that can happen, and just relax.
    plum, tgirl, Kati and 5 others like this.
  8. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    Talk about synchronicity! The plane analogy...I keep putting off a long haul flight to visit family, for fear of symptoms recurring. Indeed, tension is useless. Thank you for your reply.
  9. Sarika

    Sarika New Member

    Hi tattvamasi

    The first post for this thread is just so me. I make dinners from scratch, I make incredible Halloween costumes for my kids, I feel I need to constantly put in effort.

    After finding out about TMS, I am tying to "chill" this summer. I have never used that word "chill" until this year. That is how tense of a person I am. No big projects planned as usual.

    I will be seeing a somatic therapist to work with my inner anger but for my personality type, you mentioned to take things gently. Does that mean just take life easy and don't do big projects? Don't pressure myself to do perfect work for everything I do?
    Kathleen likes this.
  10. tattvamasi

    tattvamasi Peer Supporter

    Getting rid of TMS (or any other psychosomatic illness, really) can be summed up in 2 words: let go. Unfortunately, teaching perfectionists how to let go is difficult. If you have spent years and years of your life worrying, trying to control things, trying to do everything perfectly or well, trying to be a nice person, then what you really have perfected is your perfectionism itself. And then you get pain or some other disease and you find out that it is caused by your perfectionism/goodism personality. What are you supposed to do? If you continue being a problem solver and do everything you can to get rid of TMS, then you still don't understand what TMS is all about. As long as you want to get rid of TMS, it stays. The more you fight, the more it persists. The moment you let go, it disappears. So really, what are you supposed to do? How do you let go? And the only answer I can give you is that you can't. How can you yourself let go of yourself? How can you force yourself to not force things? How can you want to be pain free, if what is required to be pain free is to not want to be pain free? You see, you've got yourself an insoluble problem and it can't be solved by doing something. It can only be solved by letting go. By really going deep and thinking it through, you will see that you really can't do anything about it, and when you see that, you just let go.
    intense50, gipfel65, plum and 8 others like this.
  11. Zumbafan

    Zumbafan Well known member

    Reminds me of the double slit experiment, which basically says if we try to observe something, it causes disturbance, so leave it be.
    plum and Phaedrus like this.
  12. PamD

    PamD Peer Supporter

    I try to remember the saying "whatever you resist persists". The letting go thing is such a challenge. What does it mean to let go? I don't think it is a one size fits all. I personally have tried many things until I found the way that works for me today. This has changed over time. Meditation, mindfulness, prayer, symbolic letting go like writing things down and burning them, using a "God Box", clean something or reaching out to help someone else are a few of the methods I find helpful. I think about the relax analogy, when falling from something like a bike or going into a car crash experts say to realize it is happening, and relax for impact. The relaxation is what helps prevent more serious injury. It feels counter intuitive and it is even automatic for us to brace ourselves. Often the least harmed party in a drunk driving accident is the person who is drunk because they are relaxed upon impact. Not my favorite analogy but to make the point that has been said earlier, relax and let go. Stop fighting. Perfectionism and over "doing" recovery is resistance in TMS. Remember the mantras/mottoes "it is good enough" and " I am good enough". It is in living in the enough that we will find healing.
    plum, Kevin Barry, Cara and 1 other person like this.
  13. Sandrine

    Sandrine New Member

    Thank you for these very wise words, tattvamasi. They really hit the nail on the head.

    I experienced them once when I wanted to climb on a hill despite my cronic hip pain and I was in a very special mood for completly letting go all fears. After the walk I realised they were gone. The pain AND the fear. This is now 4 years ago und the pain AND the fear are still gone... This mood for not bothering at all is it. I wished I will experience it some day in regard of my shoulder pain.

    It is true, you really can't force it. Just let it happen.

    Good luck to all here around. I am so grateful for this forum!
  14. Boston Redsox

    Boston Redsox Well Known Member

    If you're in pain, instead of pushing through it, focus on refusing to let it make you feel defeated or put you in a terrible mood. Wink at it and tell it that its days are numbered. Then move on with your life and tryto be confident and present.
    jimmylaw9, AC45 and Kathleen like this.
  15. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Terrific post. Thanks for writing it up, @tattvamasi
  16. Kathleen

    Kathleen New Member

  17. Kathleen

    Kathleen New Member

    Thank you so very much for your answer here. That was really well written and I can understand it and feel like I'm on my way to healingmyself because it's like you're speaking right to me and I have all those personality traits so thank you again for your effort in that forum answer
    Kevin Barry likes this.
  18. IndiMarshall

    IndiMarshall Well known member

    See if this applies to you

    Refer to 83 rd page of healing back pain

    1) still hooked on the scans & believing it as structural.
    2) wondering if a book can cure him.
    3) accepts the TMS diagnosis but doesn't have the courage to begin physical activity.
  19. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    A terrific exchange of posts and replies.
    TMSWiki people really are here to help each other.

    Resume physical activity at your own pace, not anyone else's.

    Pardon my French, but my motto is: "F%#@ fear and worry!" Then I laugh them away.
    Kevin Barry, Kathleen and orffgirl like this.
  20. James59

    James59 Well known member

    I've bookmarked this thread and I have read it through a few times. It seems to have a ring of truth, especially in light of something that came to me several years ago.

    Back in 2009, about 6-8 months after I had to quit working, I was studying A Course In Miracles looking for a metaphysical solution to my pain. One night in quiet contemplation the following flowed into my consciousness word for word as follows:

    "Let go of it.
    Let go of everything.
    You will not lose anything.
    But you will no longer be responsible for it.
    God will be, and always was."

    Yet here I am 6 years later and I still can't let go. In fact I'm grasping tighter than ever. My body is more rigid than ever. Apparently, if this thread is true, long before I ever heard of TMS I had the instructions to solve my problem, but I still don't know how to apply it. But since I discovered TMS two years ago I've wondered if the instructions above need to somehow be applied to my subconscious mind rather than my conscious thoughts. I just don't know, much less know how.

    I may have a clue, though. Until recently I had a very difficult time settling into bed comfortably. I have found that if I just let myself rest however I fall into bed even if the position does not at first feel right, I can get comfortable faster than if I try to find a comfortable position before I relax. But I still have no idea how to apply that to physical activity, which gets me tied up into knots.
    Kathleen likes this.

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