Emotions and Behaviors Will Get Better As You Heal.

Punch to the Face

Image by Ninja M. via Flickr

Don’t worry.

When you hear that, don’t you think violent thoughts?  Or how about, “Calm down?”  Got to love that.  I have visuals of my back swing.  Sure.  You might call them hallucinations.  I’ve never actually hit someone but I have pulled into ready position.

Here’s the thing though.  After all this on-and-on about taking care of ourselves, I have found myself saying things that get awfully close and I’m looking out.  Pretty soon I’m afraid I’m going to get it.  (I’ve got my eye on you!  And you!)

Here’s what happened.  Augustina was wondering what to do about her best friend.  They had quarreled and then quarreled again.

Naming someone, “best-ie” sounds pubescent but Augustina was no child.  Her best-ie had been her chosen family (as Jackie Paulson reminded us yesterday)  since she was twelve, fat and leaked.  Kids were laughing.  Future Best-ie wasn’t.  That’s the kind of girl she was.  Safe; a light in a house that she had gone toward naturally and that had not been put out by Augustina’s misty self.  Wet face, stained pants, fat neck and pimples – Future Best-ie wasn’t laughing.  And that’s about all it took.  She was her friend.

Why had Augustina and Best-ie quarrelled these thirty-some years later?  This was am apparent mystery to Augustina.  You know those kind of mysteries, when they belong to only one person while everyone else with the answer key is looking on.  It was almost like she was standing there, twelve-years-old and bewildered.  This time though, Best-ie wasn’t on her side.  Or so she thought.

Truth is, Augustina had been mean.  She was not keeping dates, she argued easily and she was more self-absorbed than the color black.  It had been months now and then they quarreled.  Augustina missed all the prodrome, the warnings, the recommendations from family, other friends and including Best-ie to get insight and help.  To Augustina, this quarrel stood alone and she was being misused and misunderstood.

So what do we do?  Do we discuss Augustina’s behavior?  Do we explain her problems?  Maybe.  But only long enough to help her join our treatment team.  Once she’s in treatment, we wait.  We for reasons of self-preservation won’t say, “Don’t worry,” but we will come close.  Why?  Because we know that many of her problems as perceived by others and herself will disappear when her brain illness heals.  Do you believe that?  Where do you think her emotions and behaviors are coming from?

See blog post, There is Less Space Between Emotions And Science.

Questions:  When have you seen maltreatment from others that feels personal to you appear without provocation?  When have you seen someone you trusted change into someone who is mean, angry, selfish and reject you when they never did before?  Did you see the opposite happen when their brain illness was treated?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Calm down.  (Duck!  I see you and I’m outta here!)

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?  

Finalé – Me Again. Everything Starts and Ends With Me – Even Emotions and Behaviors.

We are doing a narrative series on understanding where emotions and behaviors come from:

  1. Emotions Are Contagious – Emotions shared
  2. Our own Emotional Junk – Emotions hidden
  3. Positive Emotions and Behaviors are Contagious Too 
  4. Our Conscious Self is Our Board and Paddle at Sea – Small conscious self and BIG unconscious self
  5. Biopsychosocial Model – Biological, Psychological, Social selves
  6. Me! 
  7. Finalé – Me Again.  Everything Starts and Ends With Me – Even Emotions and Behaviors.  (Today’s post.)

We have covered in our series that emotions are contagious.  We know that if we take care of our own first, we might not be as “susceptible” to negative “contagion” in turn and perhaps, be more available to giving and receiving positive “emotion-contagion.”  Further, we hope that if we do this, we might be able to choose to be with people we love even if they don’t do their own self-care.  We can have that connection without personalizing what isn’t about us.  Sigh.  That is nice, isn’t it?  Then …out at sea (away from our narrative for a day,) we talked about the pleasure in engaging with what bits of biology are directly available to us and the relationship we maintain with the big expanse of our unconscious biology.  We reviewed our biopsychosocial model as a tool, and then restated the simplicity in looking for and at Me to discover where emotions and behaviors come from.

Today we leave Rob and meet Iva for our Finalé.

Mother and daughter

Image by Video4net via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #272 – Look!  Me Again!

Iva was crying.  Things could not go on as they were.  It must stop!  The tension and recurring emotional crisis’ between her and her daughter were cancerous to her family.

Iva was trying.  She’d come a long long way.  On antidepressants now, exercising three to five times a week, down twenty pounds and into her honey-moon clothes from many many years ago.  She felt so much better about herself.  She was no longer yelling at every stressor, she felt pleasure again and liked being with her kids, including her daughter… when her daughter wasn’t throwing fits.  However, her daughter was “fits-ing” one to three times a day still.  Iva felt like she had lost control as a parent and gave a lot of blame to her little girl.  This is why Iva came in.  Something wasn’t right about that.  It was evading her, however, what that something was.

To be clear, “little” in this case meant four years old.  Four years old and they could hardly be with each other.  Iva trembled thinking about the teen years ahead.  Iva wondered how a four-year old could drum up so much drama and wield so much power.

Why didn’t she listen?  Why did her daughter make her resort to spanking and punishments to get obedience?  Why did she whine all the time?  

Crying again, Iva was still able to break this down as to where her emotions and behaviors were coming from and specifically keep it about “Me.”  That was our job as we crunched this together.

Emotions shared – Iva had negative emotions that her four-year old was susceptible to?

Emotions hidden – Iva hadn’t gone towards her own something or other?  Maybe she didn’t even realize the negative emotions she felt toward her daughter in the first place to go towards them and see what was there.

small conscious self and BIG unconscious self – Iva had an opportunity to play, work, know and own this little portion of what made her who she was.  The BIG unconscious self she was doing well taking care of with her basic needs – time with her Higher Power, medication compliant, exercise, sleep, diet, water and so on.

Biological, Psychological, Social selves – (A whole bunch of stuff you’ll have to read the previous blog-posts on!  Awesome paradigm.)

And then, finally, Me.  In the space between her and her daughter, Iva had forgotten that it was about Me.  Iva was putting a lot of blame on her little girl.  That’s a lot of pressure for a child to shoulder.  It is not appropriate for a parent to shame her child this way.  This isn’t a moral statement unless we make it one.  It just is.  It-is-not-appropriate.  That’s all.  Iva circled back around and saw herself there.  Her Me.

Iva left thinking things were looking up.

Questions:  Even in your most difficult relationships, how do you own your emotions and behaviors?  Or is there a reason for them outside of yourself?  Please tell me your story.

Me! Where Emotions and Behaviors Come From

steps 15

Image by Erik - parked in Cairo these days via Flickr

We are doing a narrative series on understanding where emotions and behaviors come from:

  1. Emotions Are Contagious – Emotions shared
  2. Our own Emotional Junk – Emotions hidden
  3. Positive Emotions and Behaviors are Contagious Too 
  4. Our Conscious Self is Our Board and Paddle at Sea – Small conscious self and BIG unconscious self
  5. Biopsychosocial Model – Biological, Psychological, Social selves
  6. Me!  (Today’s Post)

What we have covered so far in our series is that we know emotions are contagious.  We know that if we take care of our own first, we might not be as “susceptible” to negative “contagion” in turn and perhaps, be more available to giving and receiving positive “emotion-contagion.”  Further, we hope that if we do this, we might be able to choose to be with people we love even if they don’t do their own self-care.  We can have that connection without personalizing what isn’t about us.  Sigh.  That is nice, isn’t it?  Then …out at sea (away from our narrative for a day,) we talked about the pleasure in engaging with what bits of biology are directly available to us and the relationship we maintain with the big expanse of our unconscious biology.  Yesterday we reviewed our biopsychosocial model as a tool for further understanding where our emotions and behaviors come from.

Self-Care Tip #272 – If you are ever unsure about where your emotions and behaviors are coming from, it is always safe and true enough to say, “Me.”

Where do emotions and behaviors come from?

Me.

For example:  Me <–> Emotions Shared <–> Me <–> Emotions Hidden <–> Me <–> small conscious self and BIG unconscious self <–> Me <–> Biological, Psychological, Social selves <–> Me… round and round, starting and ending and starting with Me.

Rob and Yesenia were both breathing hard.  Rob was pale and Yesenia flushed.  Where to start?  With Me.  This is what I shared with them both.

Put your spouse down and take three steps back!  Own your own self.  Take care of your own self.  In the process, you will be able to pick each other up again and share love.

Questions:  What are you holding, carrying, using to explain where your emotions and behaviors come from?  How have you been able to put those down and hold yourself?  Please tell me your story.

Still Interested In Self-Care?

Working for Peanuts

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #131 – Start all your efforts and end all your efforts accountably with yourself.

Self-care is:

For many of us, we wonder what self-care is.  Obviously being subjective, it is something unmeasured and changes between us.  It doesn’t interest or make sense to many, depending on their religious biases, culture, temperament and other things.  But others of us, for maybe the same reasons, find self-care to be the place from which our axis swings.  We have together, here at FriendtoYourself.com, through the past eight-plus months, agreed on much of what self-care is and is not.

It is not selfish-care, alone-care, sacrilegious or Godless-care.  It is more than any one thing, for self-care flattens knowledge.  It is not weak but rather courageous.  It brings us to humble accountability for our lives, not erasing our history but still being free to start over any time.  Self-care is living consistent with the belief that the success of our health (emotional, physical, spiritual) begins and ends with Me.

Despite the chorus of boos, we say that we serve God and man better by taking care of ourselves first.  We attack guilt, we stand up to shame, we live as we choose despite stigma and we work harder than we ever have on perhaps the hardest job of our lives.  This is, Self-care.

Are you still interested?

Question:  How do you define self-care?  How is it played out in your life story?  Please tell us.

Choosing Connections – Take The Good and Take Care of Yourself

Beit Nir, a kibbutz in Israel.

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip#228 – If we choose to have someone in our lives, if we choose that it is better for us than not, than take what is good and leave the rest.

We’ve all seen them, or been them at some point through life.  Those walk-outs.  Either choice, leave or stay, takes immense courage to do well.

Tonight however, I’m thinking about the courageous who stayed.  Those who stay despite the stink in life.  Those who stay when there are bad choices by “the other” that spill over and touch us.

We choose to stay in the relationship but do we have to choose to suffer with them?

Mandy comes to mind.  Her mom was old and disinhibited.  She said inappropriate things and had mood swings.  In their past together, Mandy’s mom was younger but had still said many hurtful things and done hurtful things.  However Mandy stayed connected because she wanted her mom in her life.  Many said,

I just choose to have her.  I don’t worry, as much as I can, about the things Mom does that I don’t like.  I take care of myself now.  I stay emotionally as safe as possible but still be present in her life and let Mom be present in mine.  As long as I want her.  As long as I know I’m safe.

Mandy was like a mini version of the kibbutz I remembered visiting in Israel many years ago.  The kibbutz’s members worked a thrifty irrigation system, had interdependent living combined with separateness in a romantic setting – something green and amazing in the middle of very dry hot and otherwise empty sands.  I wanted, even then, to bring their irrigation secrets home, which brilliantly used, not misused, precious water.  They lived in something that looked close to “plenty” in a place that seemed barren of natural resources.

But memories of the kibbutz in and out through the years brought questions too about connection.  What would be enough to turn our choices to resemble theirs?  Maybe at least some of the hardships many of them have suffered.  Maybe something like abuse or terrorism would make me “walk” out on the connections my community or an individual offered.  Others may also do it for temperament reasons but extroverted temperaments would never choose that unless they felt they had to choose to be walk-outs.

Why did Mandy do it – connectedness, interdependence combined with separateness?  She chose to.  She used but didn’t misuse her mother.  For Mandy, misusing Mom would have held Mom responsible for how Mandy felt.  Mandy preserved her precious connection with Mom by taking care of her Me, her own feelings, and her connections.

Questions:  How have you stayed connected to the one(s) you love?  When they made negative choices, how did you stay safe but still connected?  Please tell me your story.

When You Can’t Control This, Emote Empathically

Self-Care Tip #172 – When you can’t control this, emote empathically.  Be a friend to yourself.

A couple of days ago I wrote about being transparent with ourselves and others when we are not in control of things.  (Say, “I Can’t Control This” When You Can’t.)

This road sign image is in the public domain a...

Image via Wikipedia

It got mixed responses but all worth thinking about.

Jennifer responded on Facebook,

The 3 C’s help me all the time; I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, I can’t change and or cure it!

Isn’t that wonderful?!

  1. Cause
  2. Control
  3. Change

And it’s helpful to remember that claiming these 3C’s still may not remove us from the stressor.  We are however more present with ourselves and others despite the stressor.

Another reader BeeBlu’s, brought up that famous “fine line,”

I agree that it’s healthy to have this attitude to certain things in our lives, but as you say, it is also no excuse for bad behaviour and letting emotions go into free fall at the expense of others. I think there is a very fine line between the two. bb

…And her signature, “bb,” – awesome.

A line that is thin implies insecurity, danger and something precarious that may end up all wrong.  I wonder about that line.

On one side we have the 3 C’s:  cause, control, change.  On the other side of the line we have responsibility for the boundaries of others.  I wonder if there really is a dividing line after all or if it is just bad lighting.  If there wasn’t, there would be no need to thicken the line, to defend, or to pick sides.

Emotional health makes shadowy lines disappear.  It takes someone who has emotional health to be able to say their 3 C’s and still consider the internal and external milieu of others.  It takes someone who has done their self-care and put money in the bank; someone who has reserve built up that spills over into empathy.  We can’t emote empathically so well when we aren’t emotionally healthy.  The less of that, the more real the line becomes.  The less of that, the more precarious we are.

Gaining emotional health may take medication, exercise, sunlight, granola, grandma’s kisses and all sorts of things.  Each of us has to figure it out for our own selves and just do it.

Questions:  What do you think about this business of shadows, lines, and living cautiously?  When you have been healthiest, how have you been able to embrace both the 3 C’s and emote empathically at the same time?  Please tell me your story.