Self Talk Dialogue

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A common question asked by new TMSers is what to do when they experience pain. They know that their pain is a result of psychological, not structural, factors, but how can a person stops flare ups? One method have several people have found helpful is to start a dialogue with their pain. This form of self-talk can help a person investigate the feelings and emotions that are causing their symptoms. The following are some prompts that can be used to help a person think about their emotions.

Okay, I am in a lot of pain, it is time to start thinking psychological.

Tell Yourself that the pain is psychological, not structural five times, and then ask yourself the following questions:

What has happened to you in the last three hours?


Did anyone/thing aggravate you recently?


What emotions did you experience during this time frame?


Did you express your emotions or keep them bottled up?


Did anything traumatic happen in the recent past?


What emotions did that bring up?


How were you able to express those emotions?


Can you think of any connection between recent events in your life and your past?


How have your personality traits affected the way you feel right now?


Is there anything that you want to tell someone?


How do you want to feel right now?


Now, if you still are not able to understand what emotions are causing your pain, take a few minutes and begin to journal about your day. Remember the pain is not a structural problem. It is all psychological.

"Movies of the Mind"

Have you ever noticed that when you watch a movie you feel strong emotions of laughter, fear, anxiety, and worry. While it is easy to become entrenched in a movie you can easily pull back. When a person is watching a horror film it is easy for them to say "it's okay, this is only a movie." By doing this a person is recognizing their emotions, but at the same time not letting them completely consume their life. It is a form of mindfulness. By learning how to take a step back from our emotions we can learn how to limit the affects of stress, anxiety, and anger that causes chronic symptoms. There are several steps a person can take when they begin to notice a flare up or strong emotions getting out of control.

  • When you first notice that you are experiencing strong negative emotions tell yourself to Stop and take an observational role in your life.
  • Begin to take several deep breaths and focus on the rising and falling of your stomach.
  • Recognize and label what your emotions or thoughts are. For instance if you thinking about a big project you have to complete for work tell yourself you are just "worrying, worrying."
  • Once you recognize these emotions simply let them pass over you. Notice what you are feeling and tell yourself you are not going to let them control your life.
  • Take one more deep breath and go on about your day.

(Benson, Herbert; Stuart, Eileen. The Wellness Book. Fireside Publishing: New York, 1992. pg. 47)

On the Spot Meditation Practices

There are several TMS books that urge people to incorporate a daily meditation practice with their TMS treatment approach. Most of these sessions occur in a scheduled time and in a private place. But what should a person do when they have a flare-up in the middle of the day, or on the commute to work? One answer is to do a brief on the spot meditation session. This will help you recognize your negative thoughts, allow them to pass, and refocus on your day.

  • Exercise One: Take a deep breath and hold it for several seconds. Slowly exhale and repeat your focus word or phrase.
  • Exercise Two: Place your hand on your stomach and focus on the rising and falling of your stomach. Focus on each breath. Countdown from 10 saying one number for each breath, and end on zero.
  • Exercise Three: Place your hand on your stomach and focus on the rising and falling of your stomach. Focus on each breath. As you inhale count one to four. As you exhale count down from four to one.
  • Exercise Four: Breath in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Do this 10 times, and notice the variations between the inhale and exhale.

(Benson, Herbert; Stuart, Eileen. The Wellness Book. Fireside Publishing: New York, 1992. pg. 54)

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