People hurt us. We trusted them. We thought they were for us. They weren't.
Intentional or not, they hurt us. They may not know we know. Maybe they are jerks. Maybe they were in a tough place, and their choices sucked. Regardless of explanations, there is no excuse.
There are at least 2 reasons to heal. Because hurt people hurt people, healing lessens the chance we'll hurt others. The other motive is to feel better.
To live in the pain continues to give them power over us. We don't have to let their crap control us. Screw that. Unplug from them.
I'm not endorsing an approach that ignores, dismisses, or thinks this is a one-time process often heard as "I'm over that. It's in the past." This is also not about the concept of forgiveness either; even wishing someone well does not remove the hurt.
It is a continuing process of acceptance. It happened. Feel the hurt again and again as it comes. Accept that it happened. It sucked. We do not have to live haunted by it.
Live out of love, not out of hurt. Treat others like they matter, and treat yourself the same way.
A question I am often asked is, "Do you think I can be helped?"
Change is possible.
Although we may have the symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar, addictions, or even psychosis, the symptoms appear on a continuum; it is a very broad range for how the symptoms of any mental health condition may be demonstrated.
For insurance purposes, there has to be a diagnosed medical condition for mental health benefits to apply. However, it is dangerous therapeutically to speak in absolute terms.
When it is believed, "This is who I am," it generally predicts and defines who we will be.
Neuroscience, the study of the nervous system and the brain, is complex. However, a basic principle of neuroscience is very clear: the human brain is adaptive.
Past experiences wire our brains for how we react to present experiences. However, if we adapt our wiring of past and present experiences, we can change how we will react to new experiences. It is fascinating!
When it is believed, "This is who I can be," then it generally predicts who we will be.
Addiction has many roots. Control is one problem. Because we like to get what we want (control), we all struggle with addictive behavior to varying degrees.
This internal voice drives the behavior, "I want what I want when I want it." When we feel powerless, or out-of-control at some level, we take control in some other way to feed our desire for control.
It may be substances (alcohol, drugs, tobacco), sex, food, religion, work, and anything that can be controlled. Addictions can be in opposite extremes: money (gambling & shopping or greed & stealing), food (obesity or anorexia), relationships (domineering or withdrawal), stuff (hoarding or perfect order).
Control is the problem. The problem or disease or whatever we call it is a problem, but it's not the problem. Yes, the control problem has further roots as well, which is why a person who stops their addictive behavior still has problems.
Making it more complex, addiction is an illusion of control; it's counter-intuitive. As addictions worsen, life spins out-of-control, and brings more powerlessness in consequences of money, legal, health, relationships, etc.
Addiction moves us toward less control, powerlessness, which drives us to want yet more control. Strategies to increase control of the addictive behavior or person are ineffective. Since the problem is counter-intuitive, so is the solution.
Strategies to understand what we can and can't control is the solution. It is a continual growth process to increase insight and skill in recognizing and responding to life. It is freedom. It is peace.
When I say something in a counseling session, I sometimes think, "Damn. That's good Kathy. You should do that yourself." Seriously, I do think like this.
(Disclosure: While others have told me they imagine I spend my spare time doing yoga on the grass at sunrise, I am a little less Zen-like. I cuss like a sailor - no military insult intended on this Memorial Day post, and I enjoy Miller 64 beer because I am too practical to waste the additional 32 calories on a full Miller Lite.)
It is much easier is to recognize problems in someone else's life than in our own. It's not arrogance. It's perspective. It's human.
Yet, when we don't accept this about ourselves and think we have a monopoly on answers, then we can be arrogant, judgmental, and basically a pain-in-the-ass person to deal with. Yes, I've been that too.
We have emotional reactions. It distorts our ability to problem-solve in our own lives. For emotional maturity, it's critical to get out of our own head, get out of our own way, and don't think too much.
In this recent article, The Voice of Reason, it describes how using 3rd person language is a powerful version of self-talk. Rather than, "I'm ok. I can handle it," phrases, I would say, "Kathy, you're ok. You can handle it." The 3rd person language creates a distance in the brain from our emotions; it's another method of self-talk.
Whether we use breathing techniques, exercise, writing, self-talk, or other mindfulness techniques, the point is to get our own attention so we can calm ourselves down. Once we do that, we can think more clearly and improve our own problem-solving skills.
When we feel out of control emotionally, we're emotionally unbalanced. Anytime we're out of balance, we need to steady ourselves before trying to balance again.
A good place to start is to get a grip on the basics.
Sleep. Exercise. Budget.
Although all of these areas are strongly tied to emotions, and it's easier said than done, it's a critical place to start.
It's generally known as discipline. When we live a relatively disciplined life, not rigid, it creates a foundation. It centers us, gives us roots and anchors us for the emotional storms of life.
Storms can often be forecast, but many seem to pop-up from clear skies. Even when everything around us is out of control, a grip on the basics gives us some routine and stability to hold onto. With a more secure foundation, we can feel what we feel, let others do the same, and then decide how we want to respond.
When we get a grip on what we can control, we're better prepared to accept the things we can not change. We have self-control and emotional maturity, also known as wisdom.
When we believe feelings are not ok or wrong or just plain terrible, it's a distorted belief. It's not true. The distortion is perpetuated in several ways.
Feelings are justified, "I feel this way because...." Feelings don't need an explanation. It's ok. You can learn to trust yourself. Feel what you feel.
Feelings are judged, "I know it's stupid to feel this way." Feelings aren't right or wrong. They aren't always based on facts. Feelings happen.
Feelings define us, "I know I'm terrible for feeling this way." Feelings can be uncomfortable. They don't make you good or bad. Feelings are what they are.
They don't have to be explained, judged, and feelings certainly don't define us. Don't perpetuate the distortion -- tell yourself the truth about the feelings. The sooner you do, the sooner you'll be free of it.
Go ahead. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel.
My name is Kathy Guy. I have a successful Mediation & Counseling private practice. In the State of Indiana, I'm a Domestic Relations Mediator and a Licensed Counselor in both Mental Health and Addictions. Previously, I was on the staff at Granger Community Church over Care & Counseling from 2005 to 2012. Prior to that, I was a manager with AT&T for 24 years. That's my vocational life in a nutshell! I'm spending my days helping people know they matter. I hope my thoughts here are helpful to you.