Quite possibly the most important overall element to this whole process. Having the right mindset alone can heal you and give you the tools necessary to never suffer from TMS or any of its annoying counterparts again. Some people recover from TMS from just reading Sarno’s books, some just from changing the way they thought about their symptoms. Alas, not me. HOWEVER, mindset did give me the final lightbulb moments I needed to make it towards the finish line of my recovery.
I learnt a lot about mindset from Nicole’s podcast, particularly about turning fear into love and hatred into compassion. She teaches that an essential part of recovery is to practice complete and utter patience and kindness for yourself. Which means no comparing your healing journey to other people’s, no clock watching, no crazy expectations, no hating yourself for being broken and pathetic and plenty of loving self-care at all times.
This recovery process is different for everyone, so whatever happens, please be patient and loving towards yourself as you move through it - it's hard enough as it is without the added pressures you can put on yourself.
One of my all-time favourite TMS gurus, Dan Buglio speaks about this a lot in his awesome daily videos. This statement really stood out for me from one of them, this man knows his stuff!
You must STARVE the pain of negative attention and obsessive focus!
WHUUTTT? Starve it of attention? Pain is literally screaming at me 24/7 and you want me to ignore it? Easier said than done, plus it’s not really ignoring it, just REFOCUSING your attention and changing your fear into confidence. You can still feel pain and know it's there, acknowledge it from a safe place, like looking at it through a window with a curiosity of its message - WITHOUT giving it all your time, anxiety, attention, fear and focus. Your mind WANTS you to be thinking about the pain all the time, worrying about why it’s still there, how long will this take and avoiding going out, and anxiously cancelling all your plans, and not living your life and, and, and...repeat to fade...
Your mind does this so it can keep you in this cycle where you are small and sad and quiet and hurting. BUT it's only doing this so that you don’t face the horrible things you’ve repressed, that it believes would hurt so much more! Clever really, and actually sort of kind?
Ultimately your brain is just trying to help you and protect you by sounding off an alarm of sorts. As I came to realise this and gave in to the process and understanding of what this meant, I eventually actually started to thank it and be kind to it. You could say I even LOVE IT now it instead of kicking and screaming in frustration of what it was doing to me. That change of heart was WILDLY EFFECTIVE in my recovery story.
A BIG TIP: A real pivotal moment for me was when I figured out how to switch my feeling of fear and frustration into safety and LOVE. Hear me out. Every time I felt angry and scared that my pain was firing and ruining my life, I would quickly switch that to an image of my younger self:
I imagined little Dani hurting and holding her arms out for help, and that one thing made my fear turn to love really quickly. I practised that every time my pain became frustrating and my pain levels changed DRAMATICALLY.
This approach has worked for many other people that I have spoken to and suggested this technique. It's a real game-changer, a simple visualisation that can literally switch off symptoms within the same day they occur.
Changing the way you think about your TMS and how you treat it can create epic changes to your suffering. Dan Buglio can switch your thinking from desperately desperate, to hopefully hopeful, very quickly, but it took time and constant reminders for me to really understand this. So it’s a good job his videos are daily, it really kept me on track as I zigzagged between belief and despair. It can be really hard to not think about your pain and not be pissed off when it's still there.
Dan teaches you to get on with your life, and when you’ve expressed enough emotion to fill rivers with your tears, he teaches you how to let go and set yourself free from the shackles of TMS. I talked about mindset a little in the GET MOVING section, where you teach your brain to believe it's OK now and safe to do physical things again. Mindset matters most to your brain because ‘what you think: you believe’. I could rattle on about this for days, but Dan does it best...
Through all this learning and working and addressing your emotions, there will come a time where you might need to just STOP.
Let go of the reigns of your chaotic healing journey, stop fighting and surrender. Accept what it is, do your best to feel your feelings and soothe yourself, but LET GO. Let go of that stuck situation of constantly trying to fix yourself and switch your focus on what’s thriving in your life, things you CAN control and find joy in. Focus on your family, your hobbies, your dreams.
I had really awesome results and many many pain-free days from working on goals in my life, whether they come to fruition or not (one of them is this project actually, another was planning my yoga journey). That butterflies feeling inside seemed to flick a switch for me, as I was no longer treading water in this sea of uncertainty and desperation to heal. Get on with your life as best you can, and the healing will come...
Everything I wish I had known at the beginning of my healing journey including pitfalls to avoid, summarised in one place to help you stay on track!