In the last post, I shared about the woman who had regained complete mobility of her arm and then later reported to her doctor that the experience had been “weird and not useful.” I also shared that only a very few people responded to my emails and phone calls asking for followup feedback. What happened?
My current thinking of what might be going on here has to do with our fight-or-flight response. As you can read on this website, people with fibromyalgia have their fight=or-flight mechanism stuck in the on-position. And my hypothesis is that ICE helps a person to shut down their fight-or-flight response when they enter the calm state. Pain relief follows for most of the people who experience this process.
The Reason it didn’t last.
My hypothesis for why pain relief did not last is that after the person’s single session, the person returned to their regular environment. When they did, there were still stressors that reactivated the fight-or-flight response and the pain symptoms returned for many of the people. During the single session we actually did some exchange work (memory reconsolidation) when issues arose, but I’m pretty sure that everyone of the people who left their session still had emotional triggers that could be activated later. So…I’m guessing that when people returned home, the stressors returned and the pain returned.
Why didn’t people call me for a followup phone session?
This was strange to me for the longest time. If people had been suffering from pain for years or decades, and they suddenly they experienced complete pain relief in such a simply manner, I would have expected them to be breaking down my door for followup sessions whenever needed.
After the woman told her doctor that the experience was “weird and not useful,” a light bulb lit for me. She had been living in a state of activated fight-flight response for many years. Then, by entering a calm state her arm pain disappeared completely. When she reentered her stressful environment and reactivated her fight-flight response – her pain returned.
And that’s the rub. The solution is calm. But when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation and your stress response is activated there are only two options that make any sense – either fight or flee. Calm would not be a choice that a person in fight/flight would make. In fact, not only would a person in fight/flight not make a decision for calm, the choice for calm would actually feel dangerous. You don’t sit calmly on a couch when the tiger is pouncing on you. Either you fight the tiger or your run from the tiger.
As an outsider I was able to help these people interrupt their stuck fight-flight while they were in my presence and during our session. The two point method is amazingly effective at holding a person’s attention and helping them transition to the calm space. All a person at home would need to do would be to do the process on their own and come back to calm. Yet, doing this process occurs as dangerous because the fight/flight mechanism demands an active response.
So – if the fight/flight response not only causes the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but also gets in the way of a person accessing calm, what can be done? How to help a person achieve lasting pain relief.? Thankfully, I have people I work with for multipe sessions. So, I can attest that once the exchange process has been used sufficiently and once a person learns to trust the calm space, they experience longer lasting relief.
One approach is simply to consider that ICE is the creation of another habit in a person’s life. But that doesn’t exactly satisfy – because habits are usually reactions to something negative for which we want to create a positive alternative. And habits are hard work to build. Calm is inherently simple, easy, and delicious. Do I need now to create some hard habit so that people can come to the place of simplicity, ease, and pain relief? More on this soon.