I heard a really inspiring recovery story on a recent episode of one of my favourite podcasts ‘The Mind and Fitness Podcast with Eddy Lindenstein’. Part of the story was an insight into a conversation that the interviewee had experienced during her treatment with Dr Howard Schubiner. Eddy jumped at the chance to ask great questions and what was revealed was a fabulous summary of mindset reminders of WHAT NOT TO DO when healing from a stress illness, I thought it was the perfect summary and it totally deserved being highlighted here.
These articles are aimed to encourage and inspire and never point fingers or lay blame to anyone’s struggle with these things, they are totally normal and expected. Practice these mindset reminders every day and they will help you chip away at that wall around you that might be keeping you stuck from healing.
Chronic pain is fuelled by FEAR. Not only fear of your chronic symptoms but fear of this being your whole life, fear of lifelong disability, fear of facing your demons, fear of your future, fear of failure, fear of whatever impending doom you’re focussing on. Learning to dial down the FEAR is an ENORMOUS part of TMS recovery.
Teaching yourself to be still with yourself and little by little feeling safer and at ease with your current situation (whatever that looks like) is a huge step in setting yourself free from the shackles of your chronic scenario.
Being able to shift your focus onto something other than your symptoms is no small feat. When chronic suffering rules your everyday life, it can actually feel like that’s all you have. Whenever you find yourself obsessing, overthinking or ruminating in the negative thoughts of your situation, notice what you’re doing and switch to something else. As Dr Schubiner says in his book 'Unlearn your Pain' - "The ways in which people think about their pain and the feelings that are connected to it have a great impact on their severity."
Notice your symptoms from a place of safety, be curious of them instead of fearful of them. They are a messenger after all just trying to help you and protect you. BUT - starve your symptoms of frantic negative fearful attention and try to create a mindset of indifference towards them. Focus on things you’d love to do instead, what brings you joy and go and do it if you can. Go for a walk, do some gardening (or just draw and plan your garden if your mobility is restricted), read something, listen to your favourite music, plan something fun, call a friend, get intimate with your partner (or just think about it), read some recipes and plan your dinner, ANYTHING that will turn your focus into something positive and beneficial not negative or detrimental.
This is a tricky one when you’re desperate to be better, but one of the worst things you can do is constantly be trying to solve your situation. Let go of trying to fix yourself because YOU CANNOT MAKE YOUR PAIN GO AWAY. It's impossible to force this. Us TMSers tend to be very perfectionistic, go-getters and try-harders, but this is the time where you will need to learn loving self-control. There is no way you can fix this by trying really hard, you can only show up and practice the guidelines given by the experts and focus on getting on with living your life.
Try your best not to get pissed off with this journey, it’s ball-busting enough as it is without any added frustrations fuelling the what already feels like a chaotic dumpster fire. Trust in the process of this work and try to be at peace with yourself and ride the wave.
Battling with your situation and your symptoms it what keeps many people stuck here in shitshow limbo-land. Fighting it can wear you down and make you feel like you can't carry on, and healing just isn’t going to happen for you. Your brain and your nervous system might make you feel like jumping off this healing train, but they are cunningly just trying to protect you, so try to show the same energy back - show yourself some love, acceptance and surrender.
Giving up feels like you’re not doing anything towards your healing but that’s partly the key to recovery. SURRENDER. Whatever is happening is OK, you are safe, you are healing and however this looks or feels, it’s OK.
I clearly remember the day I had just had enough with all of this, the years of battling, doctors, tests, drugs, treatments. I threw in the towel and it felt like rock bottom. Little did I know this was the tipping point for me, the exact point I had to reach to start the ascent back into my life. I really hope these five themes inspire you to keep going!
I go into more detail on these points in my Recovery Journey Roadmap, in particular, the MINDSET section. Dan Buglio's daily videos are a fabulous resource on mindset topics also, so if you’d like to find out more, there’s plenty more reading here for you. Follow me on Facebook or Instagram for more resources and updates on everything chronic recovery.
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