Tag Archives: limitations

rewriting history


Rewriting history
We all come with baggage
Things that happened to us as children; as teenagers and as adults
Maybe a family member was insensitive to our needs; perhaps there was cruelty either accidental or intentional. There is remorse or regret over something we did: maybe we were the bully ; or we were the abuser. At times the victim becomes the victimizer.

You can gaze at the past but do not dwell on it.

We have learned – through self help books and therapy that we need to ‘work through’ our issues; which we dutifully do – we journal; talk about it; cry over it; confront the individuals that wronged us.

At some point though, we are just left with ourselves. We are left with the effects of the past and our perceived ruins in the present. What if we could just let it all go? When do we say enough with the processing? What if there is an escape hatch in our brain that we can open and get rid of all the pain we have been hoarding?

Ask, and it shall be.

The Lazy Song

Very cute video.  As I was on my treadmill, struggling with running after not having run for several days, I heard this song on the radio.  It struck me that while he did not feel like doing anything, he in fact, wrote this song, set it to music, and directed the video, had friends/associates that could do the video with him, and it became a number one hit.

There is nothing wrong with taking a mental health day, feeling lazy, or laying on the couch all day on the weekend watching tv…but the fact is, that you do have to show up for yourself and do the things that you don’t feel like doing.  Exercise, eat right, meditate, work, pursue your goals and your dreams.

The issue that gets most people though is not ‘being lazy’, but feeling ‘not good enough’ or ‘not enough’.  Once you have the knowledge of what you would like to be doing in order to feel better, or accomplish your goals – you have to take all the thoughts that come afterwards, that are obstacles to you taking the next step, and put them in a locked box.

Or maybe you can write a song about it…

 

 

 

 

doing the next right thing

Sometimes our thinking can get in the way of progress.  We complicate things beyond recognition and become immobilized.  The concept of ‘doing the next right thing’ is a way of removing the thinking clutter from our minds and focussing solely on the next step that will move you forward towards your desired goal.

Cognitive Distortion – Overgeneralization

Overgeneralization is a type of cognitive distortion where an individual generalizes a negative view based on one, or limited, experience. In this song, Billy Joel is singing to someone who has ‘over generalized’ – she has been hurt in and is unwilling to love again.

Does life stop after one is hurt or betrayed? Are there some things that are just too devastating that one simply just does not recover?

We look to people to inspire us, like the guy that cut off his hand in order to live while mountain climbing; or Elizabeth Smart who was held hostage for over 18 years; the triathlon guy who does triathlons with his son, who has cerebral palsy, in tow.

We look to these people and wonder whether we’d be able to face the challenge they faced. Meanwhile, we all face our own particular challenges that we see as ‘different’. Symbolically, are you willing to cut away an important part of you in order to survive? Are you willing to go to any lengths to accomplish something, even if it is harder for you than it is for most? Are you able to face down other people’s possible criticism or judgment? It is safer to fantasize about what would we do if we were mountain climbing and our hand got stuck under a rock; than it is to think about cutting away the dead end job or the unfulfilling relationship. We face similar questions in each situation – what will happen then? What if I don’t succeed? What if I regret my decision?

Overgeneralization can be a distortion that leads us to remain stuck.   It gives us the illusion of safety by avoiding taking any risks. Can we instead, learn from our errors, from the things that go wrong? Surely we can; we must, in fact, learn – even when or especially when the solution is more painful, at least in the short run, than the problem itself.

 

For more information on the above references:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aron_Ralston

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Smart_kidnapping

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_Hoyt

 

 

 

secondary gain

One thing to look at when thinking about unremitting problems is what is the secondary gain from staying stuck?  Just as an alcoholic who gets sober suddenly finds themselves with a whole lot of time on their hands, so do others who make significant changes in their life.   What would you be doing if you didn’t have your situation?  Do you know?

Looking at this a little more concretely, we can look at alcoholism.  With the elimination of alcoholic drinking, an individual will then have a whole lot of time, and probably extra money, on their hands.  There is no more time spent hungover, recovering from the night before; and no more time spent ruminating about the all too vague semi- recollections of what was done while drinking; no more time spent regretting or in remorse, apologizing, for something done while ‘tight’.  An important part of the recovery process is finding healthy ways to fill that void, otherwise, there is a greater risk of relapse.

When other types of changes are made, the same thing happens : you are left with a whole lot of time that you don’t know what to do with.  There are life-cycle changes that are (more or less) out of your direct control, such as all the children  growing up and leaving the house;  or the death of someone you have been caregiving for years.  You are then suddenly faced with what are you now going to do with yourself.

There are some problems, though, that are more under our direct control – possibly more than we see right now.  Sometimes, on some semi-conscious or unconscious level, we keep our problem in play.  We become an actor in the play of our life, new people come into the picture, but they are all signing up for a repeat performance of our same script; we think we are starting new relationships, but we quickly find ourselves repeating the same old tired lines.  Always getting into the same type of relationship; the sense of feeling betrayed or hurt in the same manner, by different people.  It’s not so much that we find exactly the same type of person, but that we have the same types of reactions/fears/expectations.  What is the secondary gain in repeating this same type of scenario?  What are you missing, or avoiding, by not changing or moving on?

 

 

 

 

pass the scalpel, please

If you are contemplating going into therapy for the first time, chances are you are not in a good place in your life; and chances are that you are worried you are entering into psychotherapy hell – will you actually be helping yourself by spending all this money to talk about your past?  Will the therapist diagnose you as crazier than you had thought you were?  Or worse yet, maybe the therapist will laugh and think you’re silly.  Will they understand – and will you be able to explain?

All these are possibly valid questions related to the fears you are having, and ultimately it is up to you to enter and/or leave a psychotherapy relationship.  There is a financial commitment, a commitment to yourself.  If you have tried self-help books; talking to friends; late night postings on related-to-your-problem sites to no avail, maybe you need to try therapy.  The biggest difference is the fact that you will have a live human being in front of you; you will be having a conversation – in real time.

Therapy is not like surgery, however.  The therapist will not pick apart your brain and take the bad, diseased part out.  If only…

This is a core fear about therapy – about finding out there is something inherently wrong with you – some ‘diseased part’.  Actually, there is no ‘diseased part’.  The aspects of yourself that give you the most trouble are probably strengths taken out of context;  coping skills and other behaviors that no longer work for you;   survival skills that are no longer necessary; knee-jerk reactions from past events that you just can’t erase.

Therapy could also be about finding out what is right with you and how to use your strengths more effectively.  Who knows, you could even become happier with yourself just as you are.

 

 

alone again, naturally

This is not a post adressing suicidal thoughts.  If you feel like you are going to hurt yourself, please talk to someone or take yourself to the nearest ER.

The song is about loss: being left at the altar, the mother dying, father dying, relationships ending and being alone.  But the critical word, I believe, is ‘naturally’.  The idea that you are alone again, – of course, what else is there for me; I’m forever destined to be alone.

http://youtu.be/D_P-v1BVQn8

How we perceive an event and the reason things happen to us is one of the centerpieces of our mental health.  If I think that I’m doomed to be alone for the rest of my life, no matter what I do – I’ll be pretty depressed, including feeling helpless and hopeless about it to boot.

It’s important to look at the themes of your perceptions of yourself, about life, about ‘why’ things happen to you to see more clearly what you bring to the table of your life.  Once you identify those themes, you can work on changing your perceptions, changing the possibilities of ‘why’ certain things occur in your life.  Who knows to what bountiful horizons you could point yourself towards!

This is hard to do alone.  Therapy is one tool that can help you out of outgrown mis-perceptions.

i will survive

This song is the mantra for many people who grew up in that era and thereafter.  I remember being on the dancefloor where there was always someone crying while dancing, yelling out the lyrics to the song, possbily after one beer too many.  Songs help people identify their emotions, express them and hopefully move on.  This is definitely a ‘I have moved on’ song.  Or more precisely, ‘I’ve moved on, but you seem to think that I will take you back’.

http://youtu.be/ZBR2G-iI3-I

Sometimes, we hold on to our anger or resentment long after the event has passed.  A person may stay stuck in the grief or the anger of the event that occurred.  It could be death, the end of a relationship, or another significant change that the individual has a hard time accepting.  Maybe there are others around this individual who say ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’ or something else along those lines.  It seems that others don’t understand the pain involved, and it may seem impossible to move on.  This is where psychotherapy can help possibly identify what the block is to letting go and moving on.

Is there anything that you are holding on to?

practice makes progress

Practice makes progress.  You can aspire to perfect, possibly, but only if this aspiration does not leave you feeling like you are eternally falling short.  Self esteem and self confidence come from doing esteemable things.  Doing those things that you would admire yourself for if you were to do them regularly, if they were part of your identity.  What could those things be?  Having plants that live because you are able to take care of them.  Pets that thrive and are happy.  Calling people back.  Not gossiping.  Saying no when you want to say no.  Asking for what you need.  Asking for a raise.  Being a hard worker.  These are only a few.  Some are big and long term – like having a pet, and some involve less steps, but not necessarily less intense – like calling someone back.

The other aspect to this is that you may be very successful in one area of your life – you may be very successful on your job; or successful as a parent or very outgoing.   Sometimes people hang their hat on their strengths and avoid looking at their limitations.  Part of becoming well rounded – emotionally, physically and spiritually fulfilled – you need to look at the aspects of yourself that are not working for you.

Working on improving some aspect of yourself does not take away your successes or your strengths.  In fact, often times, your strengths are usually the source of your weakness when in a different context.   Take a look at your strengths and your limitations.  No matter what you may be thinking, you do have both.  Are you feeling emotionally, physically, and spiritually satisfied with what you are doing?