Love Yourself to Heal Physical Pain (TMS)
I’m no medical professional, although I am a fully-qualified reflexologist. I just wanted to share my journey of trying to heal from non-specific pain. If you are in physical or mental distress, you must see your doctor.
About three months ago, I noticed that my left leg was aching a little bit. Not enough to stop me from doing what I normally do but a noticeable twinge nonetheless. I thought it would soon disappear and didn’t give it much thought. However, it stayed. And got worse.
A couple of weeks passed with me doing my utmost to ignore my gammy leg and walk my three dogs as usual, plus prepare the house for my eldest son and grandson’s visit from Australia, and host my other two teens' friends for the summer. And in all that, I had a regular writing schedule to keep up with. My dear unwell step-father became sicker and passed away the day before my son left to travel back to Australia. It’s been hectic, emotional, and stressful to say the least.
During all this time, my aches and pains got worse. My right leg joined in the fun, and then my right arm and, oddly, collarbone. I’d wake up in the night, and my ankles would be throbbing. I couldn’t raise my right arm to switch a light off. Even trying to pick up the cat was impossible. I managed with over-the-counter painkillers but resisted going to the doctor. I was convinced that I could deal with this myself.
Is It a Vitamin D Deficiency?
One of the things that occurred to me is that because this has been such a hot summer, I’ve been walking the dogs very early in the morning, both for their comfort and to maximize my hours for all that other stuff. And then, staying out of the sun altogether. To be perfectly honest, I’ve had no time to relax in the sunshine at all. So, perhaps I had a Vitamin D deficiency? I read up on it, and yes, lack of Vitamin D can cause bone pain in adults. Easy to deal with. I bought myself a maximum dose (4,000 iu) of Vitamin D supplements, which I’m still taking.
The Divided Mind by Dr. John Sarno
The pain grew to be excruciating and I was almost at the point of caving in and making an appointment with my doctor. The thing that stopped me is that it’s almost impossible to make an appointment for less than three weeks hence. Why would I do that? I thought I'll be cured by then, won’t I?
Late one night while fruitlessly trying to sleep, I remembered a Kindle book I’d purchased some months previously. I was sure it was something to do with dealing with pain. Groaning, I pulled myself back into a sitting position, propped myself up and searched for the book. There it was, by Dr. John Sarno. The Divided Mind
So I began reading and was immediately reading about myself. Dr Sarno had cured 90% of all his patients by convincing them that no physical cause could possibly cause the amount of pain they were feeling. Without going into too much detail, he says that the frustration and stress we feel leads to an unconscious anger and rage, which we are unable to express, mainly because we don’t know it’s there. Our social conditioning prevents us from even feeling it, let alone expressing it. Our subconscious does us the favor of suppressing all this emotional muck and pushing it into pain in order to distract us from what is really going on.
In fact, he explains that the pain is caused by a small reduction in oxygen to the cells of muscles, bones, sinews etc. In other words, the pain is definitely real, but the cause is emotional. Dr. Sarno calls this tension myoneural syndrome, or TMS.
Well, this was eye-opening stuff, for sure. I began to read up more. I quite liked Dr. Sarno’s books but I found that they were heavy going. The best one I’ve found is by someone who has studied with Dr. Sarno and reinterpreted his theories and practices. It is by Steve Ozanich. Back Pain Permanent Healing: Understanding the Myths, Lies, and Confusion
Although I have suffered intermittently with low back pain since my early thirties, it disappeared by itself, and I haven’t got it now. It’s as if my TMS ‘knew’ that I wouldn’t take much notice of it, so it came up with this limb pain instead. However, Steve Ozanich’s book was just as relevant to me.
The one huge takeaway from all this is that, for many people, all they need to do is acknowledge that their TMS is caused by the subconscious mind and they immediately begin to heal.
The understanding of all the various myths, lies, and overall confusion surrounding the back pain pandemic is the healing mechanism itself.— Steve Ozanich
So, Am I Cured?
Not yet, not quite. I only read the first book just over a week ago. However, I am beginning to see some improvement. A lot of improvement, in fact. I am pain-free all day, yet it returns at night and in the early morning. I haven't stopped walking my dogs. As John Sarno advises, I've tried not to let the pain interfere with anything I want to do. After all, there's no injury, no direct cause of the pain. In other words, it's not possible to do any damage by using my arms and legs normally. No point in sitting around.
And I’ve put into place a personal, tailored strategy to enable healing to take place. It’s based on something that I’ve long been a proponent of but, during this year, have completely lost sight of: loving myself.
How to Love Yourself to Heal Pain
Given that this pain is caused by unfelt, unexperienced emotion, it follows that, at some point, other people must figure into the equation. So I reckon that forgiveness, even though I don’t know what I’m forgiving exactly, should be high on the list. The more I read about forgiveness is that it is not for the other person’s benefit, but for your own. That forgiving someone frees you from that sludgy emotional tie of blame.
2. The Benefit of the Doubt
If you are the kind of person who holds yourself to account for every mistake, then it’s time to stop doing that. Lighten up on you. You are not responsible for everything that goes a little awry. And even if you are, so what? None of it will matter after you are dead, or at least that’s what I tell myself. Move on, let it go.
3. It’s Your Party, Cry if You Want To
The basic principle of Dr. Sarno’s work is that this pain is caused by the subconscious doing its utmost to protect us against hurtful emotions. So instead of reacting, we shrug our shoulders and get on with life, which sounds like a pretty healthy way of going about it. However, not even realizing we have these unexpressed emotions is damaging in the long-term. It seems that it might be a good idea to express those emotions that we do have. Instead of swallowing hard and distracting ourselves, maybe it would be beneficial to have a jolly good cry now and then?
4. Journal Pain Away
There are certain TMS practitioners who insist that you have to go delving into the muck pile of your past in order to root out possible sources of the pain. I am not really in favor of that sort of systematic raking over of old hurts, not for myself anyway. However, I have found benefit in journaling around a subject when those thoughts and memories arise in a natural way. For example, this morning I was reading an article on home-schooling (I home-schooled two of my three children) and something made me remember an experience I had in school when I was six years old. My teacher, who was the head-teacher, caught me reading instead of knitting. How about that for a crime? So she whacked me across the palms with an 18-inch ruler. I was terrified of her. Terrified of going to school and I hated every minute I was there. So journaling about it and cursing the old boot out good and proper made me feel a whole lot better.
5. Fall in Love With You
Tell yourself, “I love you.” Sounds stupid, I know. It sounded stupid to me, after all I am one of those ‘stiff upper lip British people’ who thinks I should shut up and get on with it. Yet, after reading Kamal Ravikant’s book, Love Yourself As If Your Life Depends on It a while back, I think there is something in it. How can we appear lovable to another if we don’t love ourselves in the first place? If we don’t like who we are, then we must be responsible for creating that persona. So time to fall in love with the human being you have created.
"Your job is purely to love yourself. Truly and deeply. Feel it. Again and again. Make it your single-minded focus. The mind and body will respond automatically. They don't have a choice." Ravikant, Kamal: “” Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It
Thanks for reading. I hope your life is happy and pain-free.
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© 2018 Bev G