In sport a phrase known as T-CUP was devised by a manager of an English sports team (hence the Tea reference). T-CUP stands for Thinking Correctly Under Pressure. The application to sport is obvious, however the link to IBS is equally strong.
One of the greatest psychological difficulties of IBS is overcoming the irrational fears. Becoming embroiled in thinking and acting in a way that has been determined by a thought process, undermined by IBS. For example:
If you suffer with IBS your thought process might go ‘I do not wish to travel on the metro, as there are no toilets on board. If my IBS plays up I could have an accident, which would be humiliating’. The reality of the situation is that the anxiety of a potential IBS attack ensures that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. IBS sufferers become so anxious if they can not find or know of no bathroom, that anxiety builds and creates a problem.
When you look at the situation from a realistic perspective it can look very different. Without the self-fulfilling anxiety created by IBS, you would not need the toilet. Think about the times you are comfortable and relaxed, do you need the bathroom then? It is only when a situation arises which makes you anxious such as being unable to get to or use a toilet that it becomes an emergency.
The other factor that is even harder to get to grips with, is the ‘So what’ factor. This is a process further down the line, however it is important. No one would argue that having a accident in public is anything less than humiliating. Many IBS sufferers will have at some point gone through this ordeal and it is deeply unpleasant. What needs to be bourne in mind, is that if it happens in most situations it would be amongst absolute strangers who you will never see again.
In new places or situations, it must be remembered that you are never far away from a bathroom. Malls, shops, bars all have facilities and the reality is that you will get there, if you relax in the knowledge that you are never far away you will be able to avoid getting into the anxious mindset that leads to difficulties.
Over the course of the following pages RTP will be expanded on, it offers an opportunity to re-examine the way you look at the world and is a vital step on the road to freedom. It is actually one of the most difficult processes. Years of conditioning by IBS, leaves sufferers with many barriers to altering their perceptions.
Actual evidence of anxiety generating moments, will not be erased with ease. The basis for success comes through acknowledging the effect that your own mind is having on your IBS. To understand that certain triggers are generating the anxiety, that if you were able to remain calm and relaxed you had always be able to reach a bathroom.
Once you reach a point, where you are able to recognize the power of the mind on your symptoms rational thinking can take hold. This must be in unison with the improvement through diet, rationality tells us that much in the first place. The next page attempts to highlight some very basic thought processes. We recommend that you start to think about how much better your stomach feels when you are relaxed, and how this alters through stress and anxiety.