Deliberately Setting Myself Up To Improve

dayspa-1

Image by samuelalove via Flickr

Self-care is about improving life, not harm.  Even though it includes doing things we don’t enjoy and sometimes hurt, it doesn’t harm us.

That’s a useful meter-stick when we wonder about something in our life.  Is this harming us?  Including people.  Do I feel better about myself when I’m with them?  Do they help me become a better person?  A better friend to myself?  Or, do they turn me toward things that harm me?

When thinking about our days activities, our choice of employment, things we put in our body, put them by this “No-Harm Meter-Stick” and see how they measure.

A deliberate check-point in my life is consistent with a deliberate goal.  …”I want to be  healthy.  Is this improving my health?”  “I want to have good self-esteem.  Does this improve my self-esteem?”  And the journey is consistent with the beginning and the end.  If the goals for the moment isn’t consistent with our big picture goals than they might not be the goals we want.  Like putting substances in our body that feel good for the moment but harm our life.  There are innumerable examples of this but you get the picture.

Questions:  What checks you when you need it?  What has been useful to remind you in this area or that to be friendly to yourself?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – Deliberately set up feedback in your life to let you know that you are a friend to yourself.

See blog-Post:  “You” Are The Best Gift

Safety in Connections With Others

Nami 01

Marcy came in looking like a question mark.  Despite her gorgeous face and swank, she still looked uncertain.

Marcy was born into chaos.  Get this.  Her father who spent her whole childhood using drugs, alcohol and strange women, who was emotionally and mentally absent most of her life, who is possibly still using, is the one person in the whole world Marcy calls her confidante.  “He gets me.  I can really talk to him.  Even my husband doesn’t understand me like he does, you know, emotions.”

Marcy, despite years of fear, panic attacks, the survivor of abuse and neglect was clinging to her dad.

Marcy was lost in the headlights of the oncoming life.  She thought after having spent her entire life afraid, it was time to heal so she though she’d give medication therapy “a try.”

After initiating medications for Marcy’s post-traumatic stress disorder and after her panic-attacks stopped, Marcy started attending NAMI.  What a believer in NAMI she became!

They just make it easy for me to talk about myself, say things I can’t even tell my husband, and they know what I’m going through.

Listening to her talk about them was letting fresh air into our room.  Hope floated in.  Now Marci doesn’t believe that her dad is the only one in the world she can connect with at this level.  Now Marci does not feel as alone.  Why?  Because she went and got connected.  She whacked through the briar hedge of misperceptions, biases and insecurities between her and others.

Marci still thinks largely of her father, but he’s not the only one.  He has some competition to the throne which means, Marci has a better chance of being influenced by someone healthier.  Rather than attack Marci’s attachment with her Father, NAMI is giving her more to fill her heart with.

Self-Care Tip #285 – Find safety in healthy connections with others.

Questions:  When have the connections in your life saved you from warped views?  How do you think we could do better with this?  Please tell me your story.

A Testimony of “Being A Friend To Yourself,” From Bipo Blogger

You might recognize these five questions from yesterday’s blog-post.  Thank you for your testimonies.  Is there anything more powerful than hearing someone’s personal story?  I think not!  Here is what Bipoblogger has to say.

Q1:  What does being a friend to yourself mean to you in real-time life practice?

A1:  That’s easy, but not so easy, LOL!  Being “a friend to yourself” means that I acknowledge I need to respect myself, just like I do other people.  It means not sabotaging my self, plans, job, relationships, etc.  I love myself enough to not kick myself when I am down. 

Being bipolar can be so detrimental to my being, but just like normal people, I still have the need to …allow for room and time to grieve about whatever horrible circumstances (were) caused (by) the bipolar disorder.  

…Stop every once in a while to acknowledge my accomplishments and own that.

Q2:  What helps you do this one time vs. another?

A2:  Yes, I have found that BPD is in part an anger disorder and knowing the true source of the anger can help me go forward.

I have chosen to no longer hurt myself cause when I do, and anyone else, I build up layers of hurt and it hurts to start to take the layers off when I’m ready, so why even do it? …

Also it helped me so much to learn that God doesn’t deal with me the way I deal with myself or another.  I’m not a fanatic, but I just believe in what makes sense.

Q3:  What still hinders your efforts?

A3:  Wanting to be better than I already am.  Not accepting that the balance I have is better than having less or no balance at all, …(which means various kinds of) risky behavior.

Q4:  What has pushed you past those barriers?

A4:  Really just forgiving myself for how I was affected by BPD and remembering that I am breakable and valid as a human, just like all of us.  If I keep practicing a constructive way of life, I will be okay, and that has been true for the last 3 years.

Last push.

Q5:  How do you understand the interplay between biology and choice in being “a friend to yourself?”

A5:  I was created with the choice to choose how I live my life and I do, BPD or none.  Natural inclination is to do the wrong thing because I am imperfect.  I seek power, fame, notoriety and in someway someone, including myself is gonna get hurt in the process.  …People without mental deficiencies don’t experience or don’t carry out to this degree.  So in short, biologically the deficient brain makes more extreme choices, overly withdrawn or overly outward and destructive.

Whoa, I smell smoke.  I never think that hard.  LOL.

Questions for you:  

  1. Anything you’d like to share with Bipo Blogger? 
  2. If you had a blank page for this, what would your own questions be?  What would you answer?  

Codependent,… Or Something?!

Inquisition condemned (Francisco de Goya).

Image via Wikipedia

Codependent.

It’s a term a lot of people use but I don’t think we are all using it to mean the same thing.  It is poorly defined and confusing.  If codependency were a medication, we would call it a “dirty medicine,” because it hits so many “receptors.”  It is nonspecific.

Who hasn’t ever been shamed by the fear that they are codependent?

You are codependent! 

Am I codependent!!!??

The word implies blame.  Blame for what?  And that is one of the places we walk away without benefit.  Was the word useful to any of us in any way?

In general, vaguely, codependence implies awareness and participation with mal-behavior that we are powerless to.  Treatment preferably includes a twelve-step program that includes the surrender of what we don’t have power over to our Higher Power.  Codependence may incidentally be combined with brain disease and of course that would need medication therapy.

There are however a few things that must be cleared up.

  1. There is nothing shameful about being married, the child of or of any relation to an addict.  That position doesn’t diagnose us with codependency unless that’s what that word is being used to define.  You never know.
  2. There is no shame in wanting to be with people, depend on people, seek people out to problem-solve and get energy from being with people.  That position does not diagnose codependency unless that’s what the word is being used to define.  You never know.

However,

  1. There may be a relationship to family of addicts
  2. There may be a relationship to anger problems
  3. There may be a relationship to kids of parents who expected perfect kids, spouses of spouses who expect perfect spouses, pet-owners who… (Oh wait.  That’s not right.)

BUT, per Dr. Q, if we find ourselves…

  1. in recurring negativity – perhaps an argument that happens over and over
  2. with an increasingly limited ability to participate in life
  3. powerless
  4. doing things we wouldn’t normally do/out of character
  5. tied into someone else’s mal-behavior
  6. consciously aware of that someone’s mal-behavior

IT’S WORTH THINKING ABOUT IT.  We might not be codependent, whatever that means, but we do need help.

Questions:  How do you identify this in your life or someone you know?  How have you been able to stop being dependent on someone you knew was repeatedly doing mal-behavior?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip #275 – Forget the shame and just get about your work to figure this out.

Emotions Are Contagious – Such as, Anxiety.

We are starting a narrative series on discussing where emotions and behaviors come from:

Anxiety bubbled, frothed and infused the air.  Yesenia could barely catch a breath.  Here’s the thing.  Yesenia is not in treatment with me.  Her husband, Rob, is.  Yet it was Yesenia who filled our space.  There was barely room for Rob and I to sit or speak with all that anxiety around.  Rob was breathing faster every moment and his face didn’t have much color.  …Where to start?

Unknown source

(What do you think? think?  think? echo echo echo…)

It was too early in our work together to expect Rob to know this, but emotions are contagious.  Anxiety is very contagious.  To say this another way we could say, the emotion of anxiety around us influences how our genes express themselves.  It is further explained by saying that my “patient” isn’t only Rob.  My patient includes the system he lives in, i.e. his home milieu, wife, kids, work and so forth.  But especially his wife.  Because of Yesenia’s untreated emotional disease, Rob’s emotional disease worsens.  The inverse is true as well and so we go round and round gaining momentum.  Like a big ball of hard packed snow gathering speed and girth as it rolls down the mountain, anxiety grows.  …Where to start?

(What do you think? think?  think? echo echo echo…)

Self-Care Tip #267 – When suffering from emotional illness, remembering that emotions are contagious (no matter who they come from) is useful to your self-care.

Questions:  How have you experienced the contagion of emotions?  or seen it play out in others?  Please tell me your story.

Free To Do Self-Care, Despite Our Bully

Demonstration in London supporting Serbia

Image via Wikipedia

Bullying:  Series Continued.  (I didn’t even realize I was writing a series until now!)

  • #144 Leave Space In Your Beliefs To Grow
  • #163 “He’s Never Hit Me.” Abuse.
  • #251 Just Ordinary Bullying – The Bully and The Bullied
  • #253 How to Be A Friend To Yourself When Thinking About Your Bully

Bit’s and parts of us are unbelieving in what number of options to self-care that we have, when it comes to being bullied.  I don’t say this lightly about terrors.  Terrors change us irrevocably and hurt to the brink of our own abyss.

The question is, are we free to do self-care even when we are bullied?

Yesterday, Carl in his candid way, said,

Empathy and forgiveness? You gotta be kidding. Do you know what it is like for a twelve year-old to face this…  for an entire school term? Probably not? Cope? Isn’t coping with a chronic negative stimulus as debilitating as being unable to cope….  There may be situations where “book smart” stuff is not applicable because we cannot negotiate with the bully.

Go Serbia

Image by SanforaQ8 via Flickr

We cannot negotiate with the bully.  True, to the degree that Carl said, if I understand him.  (Carl you will surely set me straight soon.)

It is true that people who like to fight, fight well.  People who bully generally will bully better than I can ever defend myself.  They have had a lot more practice.  Have you heard this?  You never want to go up against someone who has nothing to lose because the only one that will lose is you.

When someone is agitated, in psychiatry we learn that it is good not to make eye-contact.  Avert the body.  Keep your voice low and don’t engage as much as possible.  It reminds me of letting the mist of early morning dew expire the coals in the camp fire.  Getting attacked is something we want to avoid.

Early on in my training, I was rounding on the inpatient psychiatry ward.  We often have people who are agitated admitted there and this morning, I remember it was about seven AM on a Sunday….  This particular patient hadn’t slept well.  He wasn’t well-groomed and he scowled.  All the nurses where in another room in a nurses meeting and I didn’t notice he and I were alone in the hallway.  I looked him in the eyes directly.  I didn’t concern myself with tempering my interview.  I was still sleepy myself and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible to start my Sunday stuff at home.  (I know.  Stellar attitude for a resident-physician, right?)  He grabbed me around the waist and I nearly lost my water!  I screamed at him like a she-dog and he let go.  That was all.  No big deal right?  Well I was ticked at him and at the nurses for not being available.  No one was at the nurses station, which is illegal too.

In truth, I was pretty much an idiot on all accounts.  It doesn’t condone the assault but I have since been better about not negotiating with the bully.  

That probably wasn’t exactly what Carl was talking about but it is related.  It is by no means a full year of negative harassment, but when responding to the concept of not being able to negotiate with the bully, I don’t know at what point in degrees of trauma experiences that becomes true for us.  Perhaps it isn’t a matter of qualifying them or quantifying them.  Perhaps more depends on the victim.  I don’t know.  Do you?

What I do know, is that Carl and I are both partly wrong.  We can.  I don’t know about then.  We can now.  We are free even from those molesting monsters because of who we are.  We were created free and those horrors can’t extinguish that bit of us.  We are free not because of the protection or lack of protection we’ve lived in life.  We are free.

We don’t claim to know all the innumerable forms of suffering out there.  That is not what this self-care engages with.

Questions:  How do you find yourself free at this time in your life, despite it all?  How do you describe your freedom, even with your bully?  How have you seen others in this context?    Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip #254 – Free yourself from your bully.

Additional Resources:

How To Be a Friend to Yourself When Thinking About Your Bully?

I love real life John Waters freeze-frames

Image by TheeErin via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #253 – Humanize and forgive your bully.

How to be a friend to yourself when thinking about your bully?

Have you noticed that when we think about our bully, we don’t feel so good.  Just thinking about him!  Sheeze!  In our last post on bullying, Nancy said,

Wow! This one brought up WAY too much pain. I’m feeling very vulnerable and uncomfortable and hurt and stupid at the moment. 

There are jumbled emotions that flood us, such as anger, shame, helplessness, anxiety or more.  Our autonomics may even trigger, making us hypervigilant as if we were being attacked.  We are in defense mode – all the while sitting alone in a chair at our desk, in the quiet of our bed while falling asleep, or any other place of our generally hum-drum lives.  These feelings and nervous system changes come in a time and place when we are not in danger.  They come without us realizing their approach, stealth feet and skilled hands; we are in their company before we know it.

Is there no hope?  What can we do so we don’t feel victimized all over again.

Humanize

1.  Do research on the bully.  Find out about him on the internet.  See what others have said about him.

This helps us:

  1. see him as a human, mortal, without superhuman powers.
  2. feel like we are less alone in this.
  3. realize that we are not chosen, so to speak, to suffer at his hands.  He is a bully and not just around “Me.”
  4. we didn’t cause his behaviors.  He chooses his behaviors because of the same biopsychosocial paradigm that we choose ours.
  5. realize that he hasn’t chosen to do his self-care, making him more vulnerable to his own negative feelings and behaviors.

Forgive

  1. Humanizing our bully helps us move towards empathy and forgiveness.
  2. Anger debts only hurt Me and that’s not friendly to Me.

Grow our self-confidence

  1. Such as doing our own thing.
  2. Grow our own natural genius.  Work hard at it and see how it is there for us, like a friend when we are feeling pushed down.  Our friend will be standing beside us, reminding us of our value when this remembering tries to beat us down.  Our friend will be there reminding us that this negative event in our life does not define us.

Now if they continue, these rememberings, and if these rememberings are frequent enough that we believe our quality of life is affected, we may be looking at something else.  There are other medical illnesses that can disable our abilities to cope.  In this scenario, I am thinking especially about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)

In PTSD, we relive experiences of trauma (which we perceived to have been life threatening to ourselves or observed by us in other(s).)  We may also feel hypervigilant, as if we are about to be attacked at times when our lives are not threatened.  We might have nightmares and avoid things that remind us of the trauma event as well.

PTSD is easily reactivated by other stressful situations – such as being bullied.  When we have a history of PTSD that has been quiet for a time, even years, we are more vulnerable to stressors reactivating it’s symptoms.  Then, although the said stressor may not have been a life-threatening stressor, we perceive similar feelings and neurologic changes we did when in the life-threatening situation.  Then, although the said stressor may be over and not recurring, those PTSD symptoms start happening all over again and may continue indeterminately – propagated by the disease process and not our bully event.

This might be endured and it may go away in time without treatment.  But it isn’t good for anyone while it is happening.  PTSD can improve with medical therapies.

Question:  How have you been able to humanize and forgive your bully?  Please tell me your story.