Hi beautiful soul,
I made my own version of the “TMS journal-question-guide”. Try to answer the questions as honestly as you can. Cursing helps a lot in this.
What aspects of your personality (see checklist) might predispose you to TMS and/or other psychosomatic disorders? How do these ways of dealing with life generate a lot of tension/stress for you?
____ overly responsible
____ highly conscientious
Have you suffered from other medical conditions on the list below? (Some or all of these may be caused or made worse by a similar mind body connection? (check off the following)
___ irritable bowel syndrome
___ temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)
___ unexplained pelvic pain
___ tension headaches
___ migraine headaches
___ other_________________ (specify)
On a scale of 1-10 (ten being most certain), how comfortable are you with the diagnosis of a mindbody or psychosomatic disorder? How comfortable are you with using an emotional healing approach to getting well? (Why…what is impeding you from getting to a ten?)
Why do you feel a mindbody approach makes sense in relation to your problem?
In the following 30 days, I will provide questions to answer. Please don’t hesitate to create your own questions and to write about things that are really urgent in your particular experience.
If you become aware of hidden stressors and emotions, then just stay with the feelings. Dealing with these types of stressors can be exhausting, know that I am there for you if you need help with this.
What went on in your life today? (The focus here is emotionally, not “went to the movies”. “I got upset at … and think that the reason is …” is the content we are looking for. If the day has been psychologically uninteresting, then look back at the last week and write about your feelings.) Again, don’t censor yourself, let it flow…
What connection between these emotions and your symptoms did you notice today? (It’s alright if you don’t notice one right away. The key thing is thinking about the connection. The pain may often lessen or disappear before you identify any specific emotion.)
To what degree does your fatigue prevent you from living?
How angry are you with your symptoms? (Start every sentence with a curse word)
What do you want to tell people that didn’t believe in the severity of your symptoms?
Which people in particular were mean to you?
What went on in your life today?
Today make a list of anything you think may be stressing you. (Just a list, no editing or commentary yet)
Place a checkmark beside any item that you can influence or potentially change. Place an X to anything you can’t change
What item can you start working on today or tomorrow? Write this down and how you intend to change it.
Do you ever notice you are quickly doing stuff, when is that?
When are you feeling rushed?
Do you like being rushed?
What message are you giving yourself in these moments?
Why do you think that you have this rush?
What kind of nice activity can you do today for yourself?
What would you feel if you stopped your TMS behaviour? (perfectionism, self-critical, overly responsible, control-oriented, people-pleasing, highly conscientious)
Where would you find this feeling in your body?
Why do you think you are doing these types of behaviours?
Which people gave you a hard time in childhood?
What did you really wish to do with them?
Were you ever afraid of your anger?
Can you remember the last time you were really angry?
What are your thoughts on anger?
What are you most proud of in your life?
Did you take credit for this? (why or why not?)
When you praise yourself, what is it typically for?
Review what you have been writing in the first week.
What concepts keep coming up?
Have you exhausted yourself in the past week?
Why do you think this happened?
Is there something you want to say “No!” to?
What is the first step in implementing this “No!”?
Is there something you want to say “Yes!” to?
How are you feeling today?
What things would you have wanted different in childhood?
Can you write a letter to your parents? (mum and dad in seperate letters, take your time with this. Remember they are never going to read this, never. You can vent out everything that is unsaid and things you can’t usually talk about)
Are you afraid to crash?
What happens when you can’t keep up with your current strategies?
How rigid are you?
Were you rigid prior to ME/CFS?
Imagine, you are really angry. (Think about your letters, symptoms or other people that denied you e.g.)Where can you find it in your body?
What does it want to tell you?
Is this anger recent?
What would you have done differently?
What is going on in your life?
What physical activity have you done today and how did it make you feel? (or think back on another recent activity)
What are you doing right lately? (Give yourself some credits)
Who are what tends to make you feel guilty? (How do you respond to this guilt?)
Did your parents or any other authority figures use guilt or shame as a tool for motivation or manipulation? (describe what comes to mind in some detail)
Does feeling guilty or ashamed lead you to feel any other emotions such as sadness or anger? (What is this like? Give an example if you can recall one)
What activities make you (within your limits) feel centered and whole? (write about one and how you did it)
Why aren’t you doing this more often
What could you be doing for 15 minutes a day that would make you feel more centered?
What is the feeling of being centered to you?
What are you most afraid of in your life? (Make a list and keep adding more to the list)
When did you first have those fears?
How did you deal with these fears back then?
What did you really needed at those moments
Review what you have been writing in the second week.
What concepts keep coming up?
What feelings came up in you in the last week?
What has been positive in your life this week?
Have you inplemented the “No!” from last week? And how did it go?
Can you find another “No!”? How can you start inplementing this? (Think about your relationship, your job, the relation with your parents or children, or your living / healing environment)
To what to you want to say “Yes!” more often? How can this look like?
Go back to your early years in primary school, what were the things you hated?
Which children were mean to you?
What would you like to tell these children when you could go back in time?
How would you have reacted to these children if you were powerful enough to protect yourself?
Why didn’t you do that?
Think about your “self-talk” today. What messages do you give yourself that can reinforce stress? (Think about this for a while. How is your reaction to the symptoms, thoughts and in other situations?)
Have you ever judged your body? (write about those moments)
What did you always want to change from your body?
Did you push your body to do exccesive sports, work or other things? (take your time and think back on your life)
How would you feel if you would completely accept your body? (don’t write about having symptoms and being healthy here. Think more about getting in peace with who you are and how you look, talk, move and express yourself with your body.)
Can you write an apology letter to your body?
What is going on in your life today? (Focus on relationships. Who are you most angry with at the present time? Take some time to analyse the feelings and to legitimate them to yourself. At the same time, look at your own hurt.)
What has been the reaction from friends and family about your diagnoses? ME/CFS and or TMS? (People tend to react differently, some might be supportive, others might diminish you or downplay your experience)
Are you able to relax more and feel calmness in your life and how does it make you feel in relation to the fatigue? If this isn’t the case, why?
What insights have you learned in the past days about yourself?
What is/was your family’s way of dealing with anger?
(expressive, repressive, somatic or substance use. How could this be contributing to your stress?)
Imagine a story where you were angry when you were young with your family, but this time you expressed yourself differently. Write it down.
How do you feel today emotionally? (what made you happy today or this week if you must. People with this condition often have a hard time focusing on the positive, elaborate on this…)
What type of activities are you looking forward to doing when you have more calmness and energy in your life?
Would you choose a different life after ME/CFS than you had before? (Elaborate on this)
What type of job would you prefer?
What is going on in your life?
Are you working, how can you combine it with the rest of your life?
Is someone bossing you?
Can you find the anger in your body when they do?
Is there a loss in your life that keeps coming back and feels like it’s still fresh? (Describe it in detail. Take time to reflect and write about this source of grief)
Review what you have been writing in the third week.
What feelings came up in you in the last week?
Have you expressed the two “No’s” this week? What happened? (Your boundaries might not be clear yet, that is okay.)
What else would you like to change in your life? (Another “Yes!” or another “No!”)
What are the most practical steps to take?
What are you doing today to give yourself a good time in your circumstances?
What is going on in your life today?
What is the most difficult situation that you faced today or yesterday in terms of stress or emotionally?
Looking back to other illnesses you’ve had, reflect on one or more that seems connected to stress of a specific event. Describe how it’s connected and why?
If you could go back to that period in your life, how would you deal with things differently emotionally?
Can you see how this change might have led to a different outcome? (How does this thought make you feel? (People often have to deal with guilt about wishing they had known more about the mindbody connection. Be explicit about those feelings, and forgive yourself. You did not have this awareness then.))
What is the issue that you struggled with a loved one about recently?
Does this struggle remind you of any past conflicts in relationships? (elaborate)
Has there been medical cases discussed in the media or on social media that have reinforced a mindbody approach or made you sceptical about it? (Discuss your concerns and feelings?)
What type of stress or emotional event happened prior to your fatigue? (There can be a delay)
Take some time to think about which emotions you might not have expressed in that period. What else did you need to express in that period? (Think about it for a few minutes and write about it thoroughly)
Can you remember a moment where you swallowed violence? If you can replay this event in your mind, how would you use destructive force in those situation? (write vividly about violence, verbal or physical. Nobody will ever read this.)
How did you wake up today?
Does this have anything to do with what you did yesterday?
What was the role of stress in this?
What else is on your mind?
What are you angry about this week?
When were you the angriest you’ve ever been? (Who, what, where and why?)
When were you really angry with your parents?
How did they react to your being angry?
Does this affect the likelihood of your angry feelings?
What issues today/this week did you take responsibility for and how did that make you feel?
Are you a responsible person? (How does this play out)
What pressures do you feel precisely because of taking responsibility? What are the frustrations of being responsible for you? (Take time for this)
How can you take emotional breaks from being responsible? What does this mean for you?
Week 4 recap
Re-read your entries from last week. What seems to be the one issue that recurs in your writing and your mind?
What activities are you planning for the next months, as you get more calmness and energy in your life? (How does this make you feel? It is natural to be worried, excited and fearful about this.)
What is the biggest thing you have learned via journaling thus far?
Write something about your new “No’s” and “Yes’s”, what have you learned and what are the challenges?
What is going on in your life emotionally?
Have you experienced your symptoms coming and going in the past month? (elaborate on this)
Have you been able to do activities in a more relaxed way since you started?
Are you having more joyful moments in your life?
What do you need to experience joy in your life?
The last question is a very common question that I ask people in coachings. Most people create fake fraudulent feelings of joy in their mind. Is this the case for you?
I hope journaling has become a more natural thing in your life. Consider a coaching session with me, as we can really dive deep into things together and it may give you more insights.
Big hug and with love,