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Alex B. Standing up to the inner bully

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by ken v, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. ken v

    ken v New Member




    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    Question
    On Day 13 of the SEP and I am trying to sort out some of my learning. It seems like I am supposed send away the damaging messages my inner drill sargeant ( I call him PFC BUTTHEAD... b/c those 2 places are where most of my symptoms are found - and PFC for pressure, fear and criticism messages he CONSTANTLY sends me) and break the downward spirals of negative thoughts with positive thoughts but at the same time make sure I feel all the anxiety and anger that comes along with that and make sure I focus on it and let it out and breath it away.

    Is that correct? If correct, it seems I need to do opposing things at the same time.
     
  2. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Answer
    Hi Ken, great question. PFC Butthead is probably the best "drill sergeant" name I've heard to date, and I've heard quite a few. I actually laughed as I was reading you question. But in all seriousness, the contradiction you feel is a very common confusion so I'm glad you asked about it as I think this is something that can be helpful to a lot of the people here on the site. My sense is that you are conflating two different internal processes that are both important and in fact, independent. Let's really simplify and say that you are trying to address two different things: 1) how you relate to pressure and 2) how you process your feelings and emotions.

    Item one is where PFC Butthead really get's into the mix. You pressure yourself to do better at work, in relationships, at confronting TMS, you name it, but whatever it is specifically, we are talking about the tendency towards perfectionism, the inability to cut yourself slack and use a punishing relationship with yourself as your means of dealing with your responsibilities. The PFC is all up in this, it's his bread and butter. All the the little things you don't feel are "up to standard" and that you use as weapons to criticize yourself. With this voice, you are totally right: send it away! Tell it to leave you alone! Ask yourself if you deserve that kind of treatment and stand up for yourself...in other words, change your relationship with yourself in how you take on responsibility and pressure. Instead of using as an excuse to be cruel, cultivate compassion and patience. This is a difficult task, but it is definitely possible.

    So let's look at item two. Feelings and emotions. These are going to be coming up from all sorts of sources (including item one) but are more diverse. When we talk about feeling anxiety and anger in relation to item one, what we mean is really taking an open and honest look at how you treat yourself and getting in touch with how that makes you feel. How do you feel about the fact that you treat yourself like shit? Are you angry about that? If so, then you should get in touch with that feeling of indignant and rage. Don't judge yourself for feeling strongly but rather use your feelings as a guide to what is bothering you! If you feel so angry about this bully, then stand up to it!

    For a different emotion such as sadness, again the goal is to really allow it to arise, facing it honestly and openly. So often my clients are ashamed, embarrassed or dismissive of their powerful feelings rather than giving themselves the space to just really feel them. By sending these feelings away or dismissing them as "silly" or "useless" you are dismissing yourself and reinforcing the idea that those feelings, that you don't matter. And that's exactly what PFC Butthead wants you to think.


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