It’s not fun having symptoms. Understatement of the century, right? Prior to finding brain retraining, many of us spent years trying to stop the symptoms that come along with limbic system impairment and nervous system dysregulation. What we all come to realize eventually is that we can’t stop the symptoms in the moment. We can change the pattern over time and get rid of them, but resisting them in the moment isn’t helpful.
Learning how to be ok with being uncomfortable is a skill that takes time to develop, it’s not easy. Brain retraining definitely isn’t for wimps. Learning to send calm, messages of safety to the brain when our body feels anything but calm and ok is something that takes time to step into. Over weeks, months and years, we get better and better at this and start to change the feedback loop that keeps our brain and nervous system stuck in a protective pattern.
One of the things that adds significantly to the suffering brought on by symptoms is the story the brain creates about them. Uncomfortable sensations in the body are often followed fairly immediately by a story the brain has about these sensations. The story varies from person to person, but it usually isn’t positive and is instead filled with gloom, doom and fear.
When I would get triggered by certain things, my brain had a very predictable story that it went into. I quickly went into victim mode and feeling sorry for myself. This then led to feeling hopeless and helpless, and that I would always feel this way. Which then took me into catastrophic thinking because who could live like this? There were also some predictable bouts of anger and being mad at the world throw in there.
All of that significantly added to how distressing it was to have those sensations in my body. The story that my brain had created around that experience made it infinitely more challenging to be ok with the sensations and the physical reaction. Over time I realized how much the story about the symptoms was part of the problem and I needed to allow the sensation to be there without the story. I couldn’t stop the symptoms, but I could be mindful of the story that I entertained about them. That’s not easy, the brain is a very good salesperson and can sell the heck of out the story it has linked to symptoms, but just like everything else, it gets better at with time, patience and practice.
By allowing the symptoms to be there and saying “no thank you” to the story the brain has around those sensations, we start to change the pattern. We step away from resisting the sensations that arise while changing how we view and respond to them. This sends a message of safety to the brain and nervous system and helps to teach them a new healthy pattern.
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