1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this link: http://go.tmswiki.org/newprogram
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New Program Day 4: Breaking the Pain Cycle
I am one of those that has had difficulty with the concept that the fear of the pain is what is perpetuating it, since it isn't consistent with my personal experience. I wasn't consciously aware of having any fear of my pain during my decades long experience of it. With the help of drugs, I was able to function fairly normally, and do most things I wanted to do. I maintained full time employment throughout and accomplished many things. I knew I could function and that the symptoms weren't killing me. My relationship with the pain was more one of dread, intolerance, non-acceptance, resistance, and feeling victimized by it. These were the thoughts and feelings I believe perpetuated my pain cycle.

I am huge proponent of outcome independence, as I feel it is the crux of overcoming TMS.

From Alan's post above:

"I changed my definition of success. A “good” walk was no longer one with less pain, it was one where I felt okay regardless of the pain. I took pride in my growing ability to determine my own mood. I celebrated the accomplishment of feeling good about myself even when the pain was bad. I broke free from the prison of fear, hopelessness, and despair.

And much to my surprise, within a month, my walks were pain-free. Without even knowing what I was doing, I undermined the pain’s fuel source: fear."

This example of outcome independence is very similar to my experience applying the concept. However, for me it wasn't that I broke free from fear, but of resistance. I became mindful and vigilant about my thinking. My thoughts frequently consisted of "this sucks, this shouldn't be happening to me, why is my life so difficult, etc." or variations on that theme. Instead, when I became aware of my negative, judgmental thoughts, I started shifting my attention outside myself, to nature, to animals, to music, to my senses like the feel of the earth beneath my feet as I walked, to other people, to absorbing tasks---to being in the present moment. How I felt was no longer the focus of my attention. Nor was my focus on my judgement of whether I, my body, my life, life in general was good or bad. So for me outcome independence is about acceptance, non-resistance, and non-judgment.

My recovery from TMS has been about re-training my mind in this way. I am pain free now, except for the occasional brief relapse. But I have learned that I can still be miserable if I let my thinking go back to it's old negative, judgmental, resistant ways. Suffering can infect us in many ways besides physical pain. So this practice of re-training the mind is never really done.