A Step Toward Indifference
A Step Toward Indifference
Your symptoms are going crazy and totally have you in pain and fear and then you read or hear that you should be “indifferent” to the symptoms. Seriously? How in the world?
Worry not, gentle reader, I have a few ideas for you.
I like to work with the gray areas when coaching clients through TMS healing. So on the one hand we have the feelings of complete fear and overwhelm with the symptoms and on the other extreme, we have the ideal of total symptom indifference. What I practice is taking one step at a time away from the fear and toward the indifference, knowing that I may never lose ALL the fear and THAT’S OK! I just need to move away from the cycle of fear thoughts a bit at a time which relaxes the nervous system. Here are some ideas.
Can you see anything ridiculous or absurd or poetic about your symptoms? Did you develop shoulder pain after you heard about someone else’s shoulder surgery? Does your back hurt because you are trying to carry the weight of the world? Did you get a horrible flare doing some ridiculously benign task? (I was once in bed, paralyzed from a back spasm due to unplugging a lamp.) The more ridiculous or poetic you can see your symptoms the less you will fear them. It’s one step.
Consider renaming your symptoms or the movements that are associated with them that you fear. I’ve called mine various swear words, ridiculous babyish names, names of people who piss me off, current stressors, and in a truly inspired moment, I named one symptom after a well known politician who lies pretty consistently. All of this creates space between you and your symptoms and clearly labels them as false signals. Another step away from fear.
Are there some symptoms that you fear less than others? It can be helpful, when you’re stressed or experiencing a particularly scary one, to request that your body use the less frightening equivalent. So, for me, my low back pain is most scary but the weird symptom I had of phantom smells is least scary. So I see if I can conjure that one up. If I feel a back twinge or even think the thought, I ask for smelling smoke instead. I really concentrate on trying to have the phantom smell. Nothing says indifference like asking for a symptom. And this again, sends a firm message to your brain that all the symptoms are just manifestations of THE SAME THING… TMS. If I don’t fear phantom smells, why do I fear back pain? It’s the same thing. Big step!
There are some great meditations that take you through somatic tracking of a painful area and then moving to a pleasurable or neutral area, then back again to the painful area, etc. Switching back and forth in your focus can aid in reducing fear and increasing indifference. In fact, every time you consciously shift your focus away from fear and toward something neutral or nice, you take a step.
Moving toward indifference takes patience. You may never be completely indifferent. Who is? But getting a step closer is doable. Seeing the absurdity, labeling these false signals for what they are and working with the thoughts around them all serve to bring you a step at a time away from fear.