Today we’re going to talk about TMS journaling. (If you’re not sure what TMS is, I got you boo–hang tight and I’ll explain).
Now, I know some of you might be thinking, “Oh great, another thing I have to add to my already busy schedule.” But let me tell you, journaling is a critical part of recovering from TMS, and it doesn’t have to be a chore.
Ever since my husband Bret was diagnosed with neuropathy, we’ve been scouring the globe and internet to find him a cure. When I landed on TMS as a possible explanation, I was pretty freaking excited. So what is TMS? And what’s it have to do with journaling? Read on…
What is TMS?
TMS, or Tension Myoneural Syndrome, is a mind-body disorder that is characterized by chronic pain, such as back pain or headaches, that cannot be fully explained by physical abnormalities or injuries. TMS is believed to be caused by repressed emotions and stress, which result in the brain creating pain as a distraction. Treatment for TMS involves addressing the underlying emotional and psychological factors through techniques such as journaling, therapy, and stress reduction.
I’m sure the idea of journaling to rid yourself of chronic pain and ailments might seem a little woo woo. But repressed feelings are real, and there’s no better way to dive into past traumas and stored issues than journaling. The important thing to do is not overthink it. Yes, there are some tips and recommendations, but the important thing to do is carve out time and START!
First of all, let’s talk about the importance of quality over quantity. You don’t need to spend hours writing pages and pages of journaling that isn’t helpful. In fact, five meaningful sentences are better than a whole bunch of fluff. And if you really feel like you don’t have time, just do the mental equivalent of journaling. Take a few moments to think about something that evokes feelings. It could be a childhood memory or something that just happened.
The goal of TMS journaling is to help you get to the feelings that you might be suppressing in your daily life. As I’ve learned from Dr. Sarno’s books (and my interview with him), some feelings are deeply buried and require professional help to access. Other feelings are suppressed because we’re too busy to deal with them or we just don’t want to acknowledge them.
It’s not a Diary
So, what makes TMS journaling different from regular diary-keeping? Well, for one, what you write is for your eyes only. It’s the act of writing itself that’s important, not keeping a record of what you wrote. If you’re worried that someone else will read it, it’s already less effective. So, write it on paper and tear it up or type it on the computer and delete it when you’re done.
When you’re journaling, write about your feelings and your perception of events. Don’t worry about accuracy or what others’ perceptions might be. It’s your feelings and perceptions that count. Many TMS patients get caught up in worrying about other people’s feelings, but it can be helpful to think of yourself as a small child who views events only from their perspective. For example, if you’re having difficulty getting to feelings of anger towards your parents, remember that this is a journal about your feelings, not theirs.
How Deep Should You Go?
Now, I know some of you might be wondering how deep you need to go with your journaling. Well, according to Dr. Sarno, “patients need to go as far as they need to go.” In other words, if your TMS symptoms subside after just making a list, you don’t necessarily have to go deeper. But if your symptoms persist, it’s important to journal on a more profound level. Writing in detail can help you experience your feelings, which means actually feeling angry or sad or crying as you write.
It’s also important to keep the nuances in mind when journaling. It can be difficult for TMS patients to acknowledge negative feelings towards someone they love or are close to, but exploring the mixed feelings or nuances of the relationship can be helpful.
One thing you absolutely should not do is write about your pain or TMS symptoms. If your pages are filled with sadness and anger about your condition, it won’t help and will only increase your symptoms. Writing about pain is like thinking about TMS symptoms or focusing on pain. Your brain produced the symptoms to distract you from your feelings, so keep your journal entries about past or present situations that evoke strong feelings.
Finally, don’t forget to journal about positive memories too. You don’t have to focus only on negative events or people. In fact, writing about positive memories can be just as helpful in experiencing your feelings.
So, there you have it – the ins and outs of TMS journaling. Just remember, quality over quantity, write about your feelings and perceptions, go as deep
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