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Who all journaled in their healing process

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by dharn999, Mar 25, 2021.

  1. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    I am currently dealing with TMS for what is the 3rd time in the past 9 years. I had a realization today that I could honestly say that I have never maintained a consistent journal. I would say that I journaled maybe a week max both times previously and journaling in the past was done out of panic and probably done with force (trying way too hard to find that magic bullet thing) so I never maintained

    this had me thinking this could be why pain returns, something is unresolved. The first time I had a gradual book cure, the second time I just trucked through a lot of pain and just knew it would go away eventually, A year later it did.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve never really reached the unconscious minds problems, instead I’ve just showed it I wasn’t worried anymore. While that works, I have work to do deep down

    so just curious who here has maintained a journal successfully and found it beneficial.
  2. miffybunny

    miffybunny Beloved Grand Eagle

    I never journaled and still got better. For some people it's a fantastic tool, but you have to enjoy it imo. If you don't like journaling or you find yourself simply rehashing trauma without moving forward, it can be counter productive. It's just a tool, like meditation, or music, or art. If you like it, it can be great and many experts, including Dr.Sarno were fans of journaling. I think you will find many members here who find it very beneficial!
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have a nightly practice of WSD: writing shit down - followed by finding at least one thing to be grateful for. It clears my head for sleep, good for what you might call daily TMS maintenance, and essential during times of extra stress. I don't keep any kind of formal journal, I just use old notebook paper and recycle it when it's full.

    I figured out what kind of writing works for me by doing the SEP and reading "The Meaning Of Truth" by Nicole Sachs, LCSW (and a big advocate of WSD, which she calls JournalSpeak).

    You're absolutely right that ultimately you need to do the emotional work. You need that to be able to get at the truth (thus the title of Nicole's book).
  4. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    I too have healed without journaling but the return of pain in the same spots two additional times really has me intrigued. After reading Sarnos book again I’ve really just now grasped on what journaling to communicate to the unconscious mind means. I’ve always journaled about the current stressors of my life which are the things I know about but never really journaled about the things my unconscious would be raging over. Sarno referenced the unconscious as the inner child and I finally get what that means in terms of what causes the unconscious rage. I’ve always thought about the conscious stresses I see on the surface but not how the things I enjoy or do daily could be weighing down on the unconscious mind. In the past when I journaled I searched for something I repressed but couldn’t find it so I would always stop and just live with the pain and just address the fear of the pain. But the more I think about it, the pain is returning for a reason, and I may never know what the reason is, but my unconscious will get it, I’ve just never addressed the emotions down there.. if that makes sense
  5. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    Thanks for the reply, I have tried to do the journal speak before in the past but have always felt that I was doing it out of frustration of pain and would rant more than address my emotions. I may have to give it another shot now that I’m a little more clear mentally about everything. I really never grasped what was meant about this being an unconscious decision to get pain because of the unconscious mind being mad. I just always addressed the concerns of active stress in my conscious mind, I really just addressed surface issues so they never broke below.. if that makes sense
  6. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have never 'journaled' and I have been pain free a long time. I DO make lists of stuff that I am angry about , and have a 6 or 7 point list I review in myself to either prevent TMS or shake it off when a new symptom arises.

    The Problem is, I am always 'Ok.'

    "There is nothing wrong in my life, why am I getting this symptom?"

    So I look at
    1. Finances...pressures and responsibilities and covetousness. (Right now I am coveting a new truck)
    2. Personal relationships.... Partner/lack of one/wishing I had one/ wishing I didn't
    3. Family of origin and the one I am in..... how do I feel pressured to be a certain way? Where are they leaning on me? Pissing me off?
    4. Beliefs- Politics, religion, esoteric stuff....how is the world not being the way I think it should be? Why is God not doing his job the way I told him too?
    5. Work.... career....lack of one. How do I REALLY feel about the job I am doing? did I choose it, or did it choose me?
    6. Performance--sports/music/EGO... am I doing what I want to, or am I flailing? How are my results in opposition to how bitchin' I think I am (or want to be)?

    than I make that list and contemplate it. There is more to it if I want to get spiritually well, but as regards TMS, usually when I am OK, there are about a half dozen rage makers that have become invisible in my life. Oftentimes when scribbling it will occur to me what happened the exact moment the symptoms began to occupy my attention.

    I never get TMS when I am angry or overwrought... I get it when I am OK to keep me from getting angry
    Sumol, Ellen and tgirl like this.
  7. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    I actually just started yesterday writing out the list of pressures that I have in life and then I just elaborate on them. In a journal format. I don't think I am focused enough to just sit and think on them yet so actually writing it out gets me focused on the actual issue, kind of like using breathing to be mindful and so on. I have just realized that the first time I was in pain i went down every rabbit hole of physical cause and ended up like many others finally reading about Sarno and just understanding that nothing was wrong with me, and I understood that my pain was caused by stress. (I was taking a new job and moving a few weeks before the pain started), when I first found TMS I tried to journal but got nothing out of it, but I accepted the diagnosis and that was enough to pull back the curtain. The second time I went a year of just dealing with hard pain, and I mistakingly tried to attack it all head on by remaining physical and trying to just prove that I was not damaged by not slowing down on my workouts and activities no matter how bad the pain was.. I tried to journal but again didnt stick with it because nothing was coming out of it immediately so I just dealt with the pain and gutted it all out for a year or more and it slowly (very slowly) subsided... I have now just realized that I have deep down emotions that I am not addressing that is causing these to keep arising, I can live with this pain and in time it will all fade because eventually just telling myself its nothing to worry about will fix the issue, but I am missing something in my unconscious.

    Like I said, i think the psychology of this is finally making sense with the divided mind, i tried to journal prior but did it as what stresses me out, so if it was financial things I would go on and on about money and problems but never really look at it in the unconscious perspective (inner child, irrational, selfish minded) I would just journal out what made me stressed on the surface, so no real emotions were ever brought up. I also never really did much repetition of the process, once I wrote about something I would then just move to the next thing because in my conscious mind if I had wrote about it once then why would I need to write it again. I never really doubted the diagnosis but was really missing how to communicate to my mind properly.

    I really think I saw journaling as not the answer because I expected to feel immediate decrease of symptoms in the moment when journaling so while I eventually got better I was probably taking the long road of healing by just ignoring the emotions and only understanding the diagnosis
  8. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    I guess I should explain a little bit, i dont believe I will find that one memory that caused me to have this pain, but like I was saying I dont think I ever really grasped what the unconscious emotions really were. Reading up on what Sarno refers to the "Inner Child" or "left over child" i get that when i communicate to myself about emotions I'm not looking for the emotions on the surface. I understand that a lot of my current issue is brought on by my current new living situation (took a new job, bought a house, sold a house, moved to a new town all during a pandemic) the pain started really right after all the dust settled on things and life was calming down. So when it all started up, i got why it was happening, but the pain wasn't leaving... I continued to workout and have not given myself any breaks due to pain, and have continued all physical activity. But it was just now that I get that I am not thinking Psychological in the terms that Sarno discusses. I was looking at the stress through the lens of my conscious and whats on the surface, I was not looking at how this stress could be seen by the unconscious mind, in that it sees the move and changes as dangerous and problematic. From what Sarno discusses in his lectures, its the unconscious mind that we need to send the message to, again, i am not looking for the one event, but i had not been looking at the stress through the eyes of a deeper mind.. I see stress of how it was crazy getting a house sold and cleaning it every day for showings, and wrangling kids in a car so the house could be looked at.. yeah all of that is stressful, but from how the unconscious looks at this, I was ignoring myself and putting everyone ahead of me in the process of moving. So from what Sarno has said I need to communicate to the unconscious in a repetitive way that things are good, and really grasp what the changes were like on a deeper emotional level... I only look at the stressors of every day life for what they are, not the deep emotions that come with it..
    Ellen likes this.
  9. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yep. He's extra clear about that in 'divided mind' . These 'perceived emotions' are always covering up what's underneath. and since it's good and repressed, we rarely discover in real time what it is that necessitated a symptom.... but with practice and self observation (and honesty) we can begin to get a sideways glimmer of the kind of crap that might be going on in there when we realize that in spite of aging chronologically, a lot of the selfish, self involved processes of childhood never washed away...we just paper them over with 'adult' behavior.

    Also, after doing it for awhile, the fact that I am sitting down even trying to figure it out rather than say, go and see a DR., is a way of me telling that kid. "I am on you bee-otch, so you might as well cut it out."

    I am not mad because I can't get a truck. I CAN get a truck. I am mad about all of the responsibility and adult behavior it will require.... I want to have a big toy to show the world what a bad ass contractor I am AND be Peter Pan and goof off every weekend...

    Our prima facia first impression thoughts are often mis-wired that way. TMS has actually been a blessing and taught me how childish I am.... and I sort of like it in a sick way. (and my pain is gone)....get to laugh at myself

    sounds like your getting it.
  10. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    @dharn999, something that I find really helpful is to work with the four core issues of Existential Psychotherapy. If I feel really stuck, I will go back and examine those and contemplate how each one might or might not be at play in my current emotional state. It's a disarmingly simple concept - what's hard is being willing to go deep enough to really address them.

    The four core issues are:
    Isolation (and/or Abandonment)

    A relatively easy example of how to use this is when we experience the death of someone close to us.

    - Our own feelings and fears about Mortality are obviously in play, and need to be acknowledged and addressed openly rather than repressed.

    - If the person was someone very close to us, Abandonment is BIG and it must be acknowledged and accepted, even though it might feel selfish for us to feel abandoned in the face of the other person losing their life. It's not just real, it's totally normal. In some situations, Abandonment's cousin Isolation might also be an issue that must be addressed.

    - And then there's Meaning - death will always cause us to question the Meaning of life - the key is to be open to that question instead of repressing it as we so often do. Some deaths are naturally easier to accept than others, but that doesn't mean that we don't still, deep down, question the Meaning behind humans' awareness of death, and our utter lack of knowledge beyond it.

    - Freedom might be an issue when experiencing the death or abandonment of someone, depending on the circumstances (loss of resources leading to dependence on others, for example).

    As others have said, digging deep to find childhood reasons for our emotional makeup is not necessary - you only need to accept that the way you personally react to the world is a result of what you experienced and learned in childhood, and move on to use tools such as these to examine what is at the core of your current distress.

    When it comes to job stress, for example, I would definitely advise looking at Freedom.

    If you open yourself up enough, which requires being honest with yourself and not letting your brain block awareness, you might come across some early experiences that formed your current reactions, which can be very rewarding. This happened to me when I was doing writing exercises during the SEP, and none of it was at all earth-shattering - just revealing and ultimately quite freeing.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2021
  11. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    Your truck story is very much how I am starting to grasp the unconscious. I use to journal about the stresses of life and how they were hard and what about the stresses bother me, but I was never really seeing what the unconscious mind would take from it.

    example being, I am a teacher and took a new job at a new district after being somewhere else for 8 years, initially I journaled about how I enjoyed my previous job and the relationships I built there, and then wondered if I didn’t give myself full closure in the moving. Now I look at this and see that my unconscious mind looked at this move a scary situation of the unknown because I was leaving a familiar environment that was safe and known, I get the concept of the unconscious being the inner child in us now, and I see that the inner child doesn’t like the changes and that’s what was repressed as to the surface stress of taking a new job and how I see it on the surface... and honestly after getting this journaling makes a lot more sense.. also when I’ve journaled today I’ve dealt the pain in my low back shift around to my neck so I’m hoping that’s evidence I’m onto something
  12. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    You can bank on it!
  13. Sumol

    Sumol New Member

    @Baseball65 I think this is a great approach more people should try. I noticed for myself that I kept saying all these things were "Ok" and "I should be grateful for what I have", but that wasn't acknowledging how I actually felt about those issues and I always avoided talking about them if I could.

    Curious, is it the recognition of these problems that help/helped you or did it require change? I'm just curious cause I've heard many stories that people didn't need to change things, but they had to stop ignoring that those feelings were there(I noticed that to be true for myself). All the best!
    Baseball65 likes this.
  14. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    the more I think about the weeks before my back started to hurt my shoulder had bothered me but I saw this as a strain from shoulder press in the gym and put no concern into it, later I felt massive anxiety while making a grocery run, I figured it was too much coffee and finished up my shopping.

    I gave zero care to these so they faded, then bam, low back pain kicked in... that got my attention...

    I initially tried to just ignore it because I figured it would just fade it I ignored it all, so I kept working out and so on, initially I said that if I ignore it, it isn’t getting the distraction of life from me that it wants, but I see now ignoring it was the wrong. My mind is communicating to me the only way a repressed mind can. Ignoring and knowing that it’s benign will work but that route may take longer (I’ve been down that path before).. this is why I was curious how much journaling everyone has done, I get that it’s the communication to the unconscious that’s important, not the journaling itself, but by using journaling as a method to communicate you are keeping focus on the communication.

    like I said, I pretty much had a book cure the first time, the second time was the long road of ignoring and living with pain and knowing what it was, this time I should probably work on the communication to my unconscious now that I get it. I really thought I was supposed to look for things that made me angry that I was ignoring in life, but really I need to see my life through the eyes of the unconscious inner child (the anti—me so to speak)... and then Communicate to it that I understand that there are changes around it and that it’s safe and fine. Communicating to it over time will let it know I see what it’s doing and get it to let go.. ignoring it isn’t the answer because that’s not addressing the underlying issues
  15. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Great question. The answer is BOTH.

    E.G. I had to admit that my job was just the best money I could make to role play 'middle class dad' but that I actually knew I was working for 'the bad guys' (Media/TV/Film). The more I kept that truth conscious, the harder it became to go to work in that field..... I found myself doing 'regular' construction work (which I still do) and avoiding movies and film.

    Had to admit my marriage was a bad business deal.... That I'd rather play with my sons and my dogs than amass a material empire. Didn't go over well with the (now ex) wife

    BUT.. there are many things I do every day that I don't want to do or are ridiculous... picking up trash after lazy young people instead of doing my job... but as long as I know consciously I am NOT being a 'good guy', I remain pain free.

    In that respect, the symptoms are instructive... The same thing Buddhists call labeling, eckhart tolle calls 'being the silent watcher'... all teaching you about yourself. You don't HAVE to change anything... but you'll probably change anyways..
  16. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have had a lot of friends get out of pain just hearing about these principals second hand.... so oftentimes EARLY in the persons adventure, just the info does seem to be enough. However, over the long term, I would say your statement there is pretty spot on.

    I have had some friends have amazing book cures, fully embrace TMS... and do nothing.... 6 months later they get TMJ or a shoulder problem that is 'real' and go and begin the surgery/treatment carousel. I am 55. In 55 years I have never seen someone step onto that carousel EVER get off... just the next new thing. Better to deal with the underlying issues...or at least wave at them often to remind them you know they are there(LOL)
  17. hawaii_five0

    hawaii_five0 Well known member

    @dharn99: in David Hanscom's book "Back in Control" he gives journaling as one of the primary tools to overcoming anxiety/fear/pain (a book worth reading, he is an orthopedic surgeon whose philosophy about mind-body interactions is similar to Sarno's, but gives more concrete things to do/focus on). He recommends making it more or less a life practice. He also recommends that you tear up what you have written after you write it, as a way to ensure you can safely write whatever you feel, without the unconscious idea that someone else may read it. He says just write what is on your mind, it doesn't have to be about traumas, fears, anger. I personally do it, maybe 9 out of 10 nights, maybe 15 min or so, before going to bed. I feel it helps clear my head actually. I often write about something positive, maybe a baby step of progress that I saw, a visualization of being better, of the things I am grateful for, and my love for the people in my life, and how lucky I am that I have experienced so many good things. I try to "beam love" and healing to other people too, even people on this forum, if that makes any sense. I guess it's a little bit like a good night prayer in a way.
  18. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    i went a good 3 years without anything and honestly it’s probably not a single event that triggers it all it’s really a collection of things that’s called life that fills the unconscious with rage. Like I said, I feel like I’ve really finally grasped what journaling is and why it’s such an important tool, I can’t sit and make conversation to my unconscious because my mind wonders so much, but writing it down or typing it out seems to be a good way to connect the dots.

    I really tried initially to just ignore it all, stay busy with life and wait for it to fade out since I know what it is, not saying this won’t work but it’s a long painful process, And while that does communicate to the unconscious you aren’t letting it slow you down, it’s not really communicating that you are onto it in an effective way. Journaling to the unconscious about understanding it’s view of my pressures has really helped as of late, it feels weird because it’s like I’m talking to another person but I’m really getting that in a round about way you kind of do communicate to another version of yourself in order to get the message deep down
    Ellen likes this.
  19. dharn999

    dharn999 Well known member

    I definitely need to maintain journaling about life (good and bad) even when I am past this current TMS issue. My wife has said that you have the ability to prevent things long term but it takes time and work... she said you are willing to workout physically 1 hour a day, why can’t you give 15 minutes a night to maintain things long term, not just when the pain arises
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  20. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    ... and there it is - the million dollar question from your wise spouse.

    I ask myself this all the time. My "thing" is meditation, and I have a hard time not beating myself up each time I ask why I can't seem to maintain it.

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