Hi, everyone... I'm going to start creating threads about each of the sections of the Alan Gordon TMS Recovery Program, ideally as we go through and do our podcast related to that section. I thought I'd start with section 3.2, Recognize Destructive Behaviors because it feels like a key section of the program. Part I has some terrific general advice for TMS healing, but I feel that Part II is what really sets Alan's program apart. And this step is where Part II really begins. In the introduction to Part II, Alan writes that "the underlying message of Part II can be summed up in four words: be nice to yourself." Another way of saying this is that Part II is about developing self-compassion. More and more research suggests that developing self-compassion is a very valuable goal, but how does one develop it? What do you do? (Isn't that always the question?) Well, one very valuable step is to identify and move beyond things that you do (i.e. behaviors) that are cruel to yourself. That is what this section, about "Recognizing Destructive Behaviors," is about. After all, once you recognize that you are treating yourself in an abusive way, you are eventually going to want to overcome those behaviors. Having identified the behaviors, if you employ the tools in the remainder of the program, you can eventually overcome them. It will probably take a lot of hard work and will require you to be very honest with yourself, but recognizing and overcoming your own destructive behaviors can transform your ability to live a happy life. So what do these destructive behaviors look like? Alan identifies three types: self-criticism, pressure, and fear. Self-criticism is the part of many TMSers that is constantly telling us how bad we are. It could be referred to as the "inner critic." For example, if we get defensive or angry easily, that might be a defensive reaction against our own inner critic. Pressure is the part of us that is always pushing us to work harder and accomplish more. That part of us could be referred to as the "inner slavedriver." It's part of why some TMSers are so driven. Finally, the part of us that is always making us fearful could be referred to as our "inner terrorist." Rehashing and ruminating over our fears does not help us in any way - rather, it is an addiction that just paralyzes us. I certainly know this well from my 18 years of pain. Life is too valuable to spend it on such self-destructive behaviors. Recognizing this abuse is much harder than it might seem because, chances are, we have been abusing ourselves for a very long time and aren't even aware when it is happening. We can do this by listening to our emotions. As we go through our day, what thoughts do we have that make us tense? Why do they make us feel tense? This is such a powerful technique that I want to emphasize it. Just listen with openness and honesty to your emotions as you go through the day. Where is your energy going? Where do your negative emotions come from? Normally we think of psychotherapy as starting with our childhood and working up into the present. For example, we explore our childhood experiences through journaling and then think about how those experiences affect the present day. However, sometimes the opposite direction is more effective. In other words, sometimes it is more effective to look at where your tension is coming from in the present. Like any sort of deep work, this takes a great deal of fearless honesty, because it is easy to conclude that you don't have any tension or that anyone else would have felt exactly as tense in the same situation, even when it is actually us who are bringing the tension to our own experience. I call this the "present based approach." Once we have identified what is going on in the present, we may be able to trace the causes back to our childhood for further insight, though tracing it back to the past isn't necessary all of the time. As an example, my mother died when I was nine. For a long time, I didn't have a good sense of how that affected me. However, I was able to identify that I have a quite significant inner terrorist using the present approach. I just payed attention to my thoughts and emotions and noticed that I was ruminating a lot about things that worried me. With that awareness of how I am in the present, it was very easy to look back in the past and see how scared I must have been in the past, as a little boy, knowing how my mother was going to die (she was a pediatrician with juvenile diabetes, so was very open about the fact that she wouldn't be alive to see me as an adult. Watching "Steel Magnolias" reminds me a lot of her). I have a pretty bad memory of the past, so the present-based approach was very helpful for me. Likewise, I also have a pretty substantial inner critic and inner slavedriver. By starting in the present and looking back into the past, I can see that these likewise probably arose from my not having a mother to teach me that what I was doing was fine and worth of love. Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on this step.Have others found this step helpful? Were you able to find inner bullies of your own? What did you find helpful in dealing with your inner bullies?