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You are everything that is, your thoughts, your life, your dreams come true. You are everything you choose to be. You are as unlimited as the endless universe.

-Shad Helmstetter

Thoughts can have a significant affect on how people feel. If someone continually thinks that they will never cure their pain, most likely they will never cure their pain. But if someone reprograms their mind to make it believe it has no pain they can be cured. TMS patients have programmed their minds to create pain when they are in certain situations. By using affirmations a person can reprogram their minds to no longer create TMS pain. In order to overcome TMS it is extremely important for a person to recognize their self-talk and change how they think about their pain.


Simply put self-talk is just the thoughts people consciously or subconsciously think about themselves. Everyone has thoughts about their strengths and weaknesses and they reinforce these thoughts through constantly saying them to themselves throughout their lives. In TMS patients these thoughts help create pain or chronic illness and continue their symptoms. There are four kinds of self-talk that everyone uses, and they have a significant impact on people's lives.

Level 1-Negative Acceptance

This level has hardly any benefit to people. It consists of thoughts people have that are negative about themselves. Major words in this level are I Can't and If only I could. Level 1 self talk focuses on what people think they can't do. In terms of TMS this level includes thoughts like I can't get better, I can't be active, If only my back didn't hurt. Anytime people say these phrases to themselves or to anyone else they reinforce these thought patterns. This thinking develops doubts about being cured and prevents TMS patients from living a life without pain. In order to be healed of TMS one must remove Level 1 self talk from their lives.

Level 2-Level of Recognition and Need to Change

In this level people state how they want to change themselves or others, which seems like it would be good. However in this level the thoughts do not offer a solution to the problem, and subconsciously end with a level 1 statement. An example is when someone says I really need to get more organized. While this statement seems like it would be good because it states a goal that needs to be done, it does not offer a solution. Also this statement is followed by the thought but I can't. What is really being said here is I really need to get more organized, but I can't. This reinforces negative thought patterns that prevent people from changing. This level of self talk is comprised by words like I ought to, I should, I need to. In TMS patients this tends to be thoughts like I need to be active, I ought to let things go, I should exercise. When people think or say these statements they are really saying I need to be active, but I can't because my back hurts, I ought to let things go, but I can't. These thoughts reinforce pain and chronic illness thought patterns that create TMS symptoms. In order to be cured of TMS, level 1 and level 2 self talk must be completely eliminated from people's lives.

Level 3-The Level of Decision to Change

Level 3 self talk is the first stage of positive self talk that helps create change and cure TMS patients. It characteristically uses phrases like I never or I no longer. These statements are made in the present tense, but can still be about something that a person has not yet accomplished. An example would be I never have back pain or I no longer am hampered by pain. While the person who is saying this may still have pain these thoughts create new thought patterns help end pain. By routinely stating that you are not in pain a person's subconscious is slowly programed to believe it is not in pain any more. When the mind is reprogrammed like this, TMS patients will no longer feel pain because their mind has been programmed not to create pain.

Level 4-The Level of the Better You

Of all the levels of self talk Level 4 is the most effective at creating change and ending chronic pain and illness. It is comprised of phrases like I am. Level 4 self talk states how a person wants to be like they already are it. Examples are I am pain free, I can exercise without any pain, I am in control of my thoughts and emotions. By making these statements over and over again a person reprograms their mind to create these situations. A person who is in chronic pain turns into a person free of pain. This level is the complete opposite of Level 1 self talk. Instead of focusing on what you can't do, this level turns that around and says that you are doing it. It creates the wanted behavior by reprogramming your mind with positive thought patterns.


The only way someone can reprogram their mind is to no longer use Level 1 and Level 2 self talk. These forms of negative reinforcement must be forever eliminated from what people think and say. There are several techniques that can be utilized to develop positive self talk thought patterns. Many TMS patients have trouble telling themselves that they are pain-free when they are in actual pain. This is okay and common. If a person continues to say positive affirmations, even if they don't believe them, they are still reprogramming their subconscious, which may lead to a cure.

Silent Self Talk

Silent self talk occurs all the time. People are aware of some of it while a large portion goes unnoticed. This includes any thoughts about ourselves that one thinks of anytime. By utilizing level 3 and 4 self talk one adjusts the way they view events and how they respond. Silent self talk is comprised of rephrasing negative thought patterns into positive ones and stating them silently to yourself. When you wake up and are in pain instead of saying I am in a lot of pain and can't do something change the thought to I am pain free and in touch with my emotions. I can achieve and do anything I want to. It may seem silly to do this, but by reinforcing positive thoughts you are reprogramming your brain to no longer create pain.

Self Speak

Each person makes hundreds of comments and statements each day about a variety of things. What would happen if a person made an effort to make each statement they made be positive? The effects of positive self speak can have a significant impact on how our subconscious thinks and acts. By telling someone that you are in pain and can't do something you are telling your subconscious that you are in pain and can't do something. This is level 1 self talk and should always be avoided. It is important to rephrase our words into positive statements.

Self Conversation

Self conversation is an interesting technique that can have a great impact on how people feel. The technique consists of talking to yourself and holding down both ends of the conversation. By doing this you will be opening up more of your senses and getting more of you involved in reprogramming your brain. You can do this anywhere, however you may want to start out doing it somewhere private like a bathroom. When you find a place simply start a conversation with yourself out loud. Ask yourself questions and answer them. An effective way of putting this to practice is to do it in the morning. When you wake up say confidently and out loud to yourself that you feel great today and are going to be in control of your emotions. Then answer back saying Yes I do feel great and I am going to have a great day and be in control of my emotions. Continue this conversation for two-three minutes and make positive statements about yourself and how you want to be. By speaking the words out loud you force yourself to clarify and be specific about how you want to feel. This has a tremendous impact on reprogramming your mind.


This technique involves writing out self talk statements on to a piece of paper or note cards. It helps in reinforcing the positive self talk and focuses you on the positive statements you are writing. Doing this effectively is easy however it can take a little time. Simply develop several self talk phrases that you want to focus on and write them down on a piece of paper. Write each statement three times and move to the next statement. Again make sure these statements are in the present tense and are positive. A few examples are I am in control of my emotions, I am pain free, I am active and can exercise with ease. By writing these statements out you will be programming your mind to make them into true statements.

Audio Talk

This is an effective technique at reprogramming your mind. It consists of recording a series of positive level 3 and 4 self talk phrases and playing those phrases on a CD throughout the day. Like the self write statements these phrases should be positive and be in the present tense. Make a list of approximately ten phrases that describe how you want to be. When recording the phrases read one phrase three times and then move onto the next one. When you complete the list, reading each phrase three times, go back and read each phrase one time, but substitute the I for You. So instead of the phrase being I am pain free, it is now You are pain free. It has been shown that positive reinforcement from an outside source can help in affirming a behavior. Also, many people have found that it is beneficial to have a someone else's voice speaking the phrases. Find a trusted friend or family member to record the phrases for you. If you are not comfortable with recording your own affirmations, you can purchase general affirmations on itunes that will serve the same purpose. You can play the recording whenever you feel like it. A lot of people play their recording on a loop during everyday activities or when they are relaxing at home. Just by having the recording on in the background you are effectively reprogramming your thought patterns and telling your brain to stop creating pain.

Situational Self Talk

This form of self talk does not require a script to use. Situational self talk seeks to adjust situations and how people look at them. It is designed to help people rethink how they view certain situations at various times in their lives. Unlike the other methods situational self talk does not seek to develop long term reprogrammed thought patterns, but instead attempts to adjust how people view short term events. For instance, if someone doesn't like running they could say to themselves Running is going to be fun today. I can do this with ease and enjoy it. Afterwords they may think that it wasn't that bad. The idea behind situational self talk is to briefly reprogram how people view certain things so they will be able to complete tasks in a positive manner. It consists of short positive phrases that can be used whenever a person is in a situation that they find unpleasant or dislike. It can be successful at keeping people thinking in a positive manner, which can help in reprogramming the brain over the long term. Situational self talk can also be useful when a person encounters a symptom trigger. It is important for a person to recognize what triggers their symptoms when they start using positive affirmations. When a person encounters a trigger it can be helpful to use a situational affirmation to overcome the trigger. Develop an affirmation that states your previous triggers no longer affect you. For example, if you know that sitting triggers low back pain, then before going to sit one could say to himself Sitting is benign. I know it cannot cause any structural problems. I am not afraid of sitting and I will continue to sit as much as I want. This can have a great impact on limiting the affect of situational triggers.

Creating Positive Phrases

Even though you may know what you want to change about yourself it may be difficult to find the right words to create a positive self talk phrase. The following are suggestions on how to organize and write your phrases.

Put Self Talk in the Present

It may seem weird to say you do not have pain when you are in serious pain, however making statements in the present tense is the best way to reprogram your mind. If your self talk is in the future tense i.e. I will be pain free in next week or I wish I was pain free, you are essentially telling your mind that you are not pain free now and you are reinforcing your negative thought patterns. By putting your self talk in the present you are telling your brain that you are in fact pain free and your brain will adjust itself and stop creating pain in your body.

Be Specific

In order to achieve the greatest level of success it is important to make your phrases very specific. Focus on a specific part of your body that is in pain or on a specific problem you are having. It is important to develop several specific phrases that are designed at stopping a chronic problem. Someone with back pain might use the following self talk phrases:

  • I am pain free. My back is strong and healthy. I am able to do anything I want
  • Taking care of myself physically is important to me. I like keeping myself fit and feeling good.
  • I have a control of my emotions. I am proud of myself
  • I enjoy life and live it to the fullest extent. There is nothing that keeps me from living my life.
  • My back has no structural damage. It is strong and healthy
  • I give myself permission to relax, feel good, and be active. I enjoy being healthy at all times and in all circumstances
  • People enjoy being around me. I have self confidence and self respect. I like myself and it shows.

These are just a sample of possible phrases that could be used. The important part is that the focus on a specific issue. By being specific you are programming your brain on a specific aspect of your life you want it to change. This could have great results in limiting chronic pain and illnesses.

Avoid Unwanted Side-effects

When developing a positive self talk script it is important to make sure you are telling your subconscious you will achieve your goals in a safe and worthwhile way. While becoming pain free is a worthwhile goal it is important that people do not affect their overall health in achieving that goal. Part of ensuring that a person is seeking their goal in a safe way is to tell your subconscious to be safe in its quest. It is also recommended that people consult with a medical doctor to rule out any serious injuries or diseases before using affirmations as a treatment method.

Create Easy to Use Phrases

If a person cannot remember the phrases they created they will not be able to use them. It is important that the script one develops can be remembered and easily accessed.

Be Practical

When deciding what your goals are make sure that they are practical goals that can easily be achieved. Sometimes when people create impractical goals and don't achieve them they become frustrated and continue the cycle of negative self talk. If a TMS sufferer wants to take up running again, it might be better to set the goal at running a mile or two, instead of running a marathon. After a person achieves their initial goal then they can work their way up to much larger goals. It is however very important to keep your goals practical and achievable.

Be Honest

Throughout this process it is vital that a person is truly honest with themselves about what their negative self talk is, and with TMS patients what the root causes of their pain or chronic illnesses are. Only by being completely honest will people truly be able to understand what thoughts and characteristics are creating their symptoms. The affirmations one uses should reflect their honesty and accurately depict what they need to overcome.

Examine Your Self Talk

In order to develop adequate positive self talk phrases it is important to recognize what self talk phrases you are currently thinking. For the next two days focus on all of the self talk that you say to yourself. Examine every thought you have about yourself, it doesn't matter if it is positive, negative, or neutral. Discern how you react to situations and events, and gain an understanding of when you respond positively and negatively. What does your self talk do? Does it give you confidence and build you up, or does it make you insecure and feel like you can't do anything? It is important to understand how your thoughts and everyday events effect how you feel about yourself.

Self Talk of Others

It can be beneficial to understand how others talk to themselves. Observe what other people say and do and examine how that effects them. It will be very easy to understand the effect negative self talk can have on someone by examining other people. Also, try to understand who is in control of the emotions of others. How are the emotions of other people affected by outside forces? Lastly examine social talk, which places priorities on social norms and expectations. A common example of this is "Keeping up with the Joneses." Examine how social norms and social talk affect how you feel about yourself and how you talk to yourself.

List Your Past Negative Self Talk

In order to develop new positive thought patterns it is important to recognize your old negative thought patterns. Make a list of approximately ten negative self talk patterns that you have routinely told yourself in the past. Remember these negative thought patterns are Level 1 and 2 self talk. They should consists of phrases like I can't, Nothing goes my way, If only I could. These thought patterns continue the cycle of chronic pain and illness. It is important to investigate what these are and how they affect specific TMS symptoms. After you list your previous negative self talk phrases go through the list and change each one to a positive level 3 or 4 self talk phrase. Instead of saying I can't do anything right say I can do anything I put my mind to. Instead of I can't exercise today because my back hurts, say My back is strong and healthy. I am active and exercise regularly. By changing these negative phrases into positive phrases you are sending a message to your brain that you will not longer be controlled by these negative thoughts, but will develop positive thoughts that will create a pain free life.

Talking to(shouting at) your brain

Talking to your brain can be an effective strategy to thwarting TMS. This can be done silently or out loud(if you're alone). Close your eyes and try to visualize your brain. Then start a one-way dialog with it. You can start off by saying things like "my back/legs/arms is/are normal," "I know that you are restricting the oxygen to my blood." "Please stop." Or you can try being more forceful, "stop cutting of the oxygen in my blood!" "I need to use my arms today, increase the blood flow!" Try different things until you can find what works best for you.


There are several acupuncture points that will help have a calming affect on the mind. By pressing on specific points a person can send new signals to their brain, and change how a person's mind reacts to pain signals. Two of the most suggested points are on a person's hands so they can be easily accessed. Pressing on these points, along with saying affirmations, in stressful situations can help in limiting the affects of a trigger.


An image of houxi point
houxi point

This point is located on the side of the palm below the pinky finger. It can be located by following the long palm crease that is closet to the fingers towards the pinky side of the palm. The crease ends at the side of the hand.

Hegu or Hoku

An image of hegu point
hegu point

The point known either as the Hegu or the Hoku can also be effective in reprogramming the brain. This point is found in the fleshy area between the thumb and first finger on the back side of the hand. A person will feel a tender spot if they press this area deeply.

Dr. Schubiner has suggested that when a person's TMS symptoms occur they should stop and take a deep breath. Then while they are saying their affirmations they should rub one of the acupuncture points. While this exercise may not eliminate the symptoms immediately, they do serve a vital purpose in reprogramming the brain.

See Also


In writing the Affirmation section of the wiki the following sources were used as reference material.

Shad Helmstetter. What to Say When You Talk to Yourself.

Howard Schubiner, MD. Unlearn Your Pain

DISCLAIMER: The TMS Wiki is for informational and support purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. See Full Disclaimer.