I know that most people may put off a project if they realize it involves writing feelings down, putting emotions into words. However, Dr. Sarno, who discovered and named tension myositis syndrome (TMS), truly believed that writing is cathartic. According to science, he’s right. Below, this beginner’s guide to TMS journaling has the tips and tricks you need to know in order to get the most out of your TMS journaling.
Journaling is an excellent way to deal with overwhelming emotions by providing a healthy output. According to an article published by the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling is a useful tool for mental health management. It can:
- Reduce stress or anxiety
- Help cope with depression
- Aid in prioritizing concerns and fears
- Track moods day-to-day
- Provide room for self-talk
- Possibly identify negative thoughts and behaviors
For those with TMS, the physical pain may be caused by mental turmoil caused by subconscious thoughts. The problem with those thoughts are that the person may not be aware of them at all (because they are in the subconscious). You may think that trauma or events that happened in the past are forgotten, but really, they may be lingering in your subconscious causing you guilt, shame and pain. Journaling can help shake some of those thoughts loose. You may be surprised at what you think about when you let your mind free!
How to Journal for TMS
Journaling for TMS is all about uncovering things about yourself which you may not know, or have pushed into the back corner of your mind. Here are some tips for your TMS journaling:
Tip #1: Remember, This Is for You
No one is going to be reading this other than you. You don’t have to worry about hurting someone’s feelings or saying something incorrectly. You are the author. You are the editor. You are the reviewer. Nobody is going to interfere with your journaling.
Tip #2: Get Out Immediate Pain
Get all of the critical events in your life out. Write about how they affected you, both negatively and positively. Do not be afraid to write everything down. Anything hurting you the most, write about it and keep writing about it until you have nothing left to say. Getting the words out there will help take some of the bad energy and sting out of the memory or event. It may even help clarify things or put things in perspective for you.
Tip #3: Focus on Past/Current Feelings
When you’ve got out any immediate pain, take a look at some of the events or moments which you know are tender for you. Start with one of the big three painful emotions (regret, guilt and shame) which can cause subconscious turmoil. Ask yourself “what do I regret?” or “what am I ashamed of?” or “why do I feel guilty?” Think about and write through each thread of thought. This will help condense the feeling into something you can see. Often, writing will help align and connect events which may have previously been completely separate in our minds.
Tip #4: Do Not Criticize Yourself
The point of thinking about the sore spots or painful emotions isn’t to blame yourself or criticize yourself. It is to get it out of you – like sucking out the venom from a snake bite. As you write, try to focus on the feelings and emotions, not about blaming yourself.
Tip #5: Wish-Full Thinking
Another part of the journaling process is to write about how you want to live your life. How do you want to deal with shame, regret or guilt moving forward? How do you want to live a pain-free life? How do you want to love your life? Write down the dreams and hopes you have, too. They can be excellent points for defining life goals.
Tip #6: Open Your Mind, And Relax
Dr. Sarno believed that journaling was a great form of catharsis. It only works if you actually do write it all out and let it go. Just think about the emotions, try to trace them back to their original sources, think about the original painful moment and then let it all go. Once your thoughts are down, a feeling of relaxation and calm may come. Just keep journaling and refocusing your mind. Train your brain to be more open with your feelings, both good and bad. You can do it! You can live a pain-free life again. Lots of love.