Friday 8 June 2012

We are not sick, we just know how to survive.

I’ve spent years reading and learning about this journey that we are all on, and what has always struck me about the professional help that seems to be available, is that it likes to separate ‘them’, ie. those that don’t need help, from ‘us’, ie. those that do.

As well as segregating us, the professionals also want to put us into some sort of box. They might categorise us having bi-polar disorder, a personality disorder or even schizophrenia. My personal view is that this must make them feel better about themselves if they officially mark us as faulty in some way.

They tell us that we need to learn to think more effectively and re-programme our thoughts, so that we can learn to cope with our feelings in a more constructive way.

My answer to this is that my thinking is just fine the way it is, and I’ve got plenty of certificates that think so too.  My feelings on the other hand, have been severely bruised, and unless psychologists have developed a method of turning back time and undoing the wrongs that were inflicted on me as a child, then I think that I am perfectly justified in feeling this way.

What I am is someone who knows how to survive. I developed coping mechanisms whilst growing up that kept me alive and able to grow into an adult.  I appreciate that my coping mechanisms could probably do with an overhaul, but that just means that I am ready for my mid-life service.

My feelings about people and events might be a bit OTT from time to time, but no amount of cognitive therapy is going to change the way I feel without acknowledging my original pain.

What I do need is to be told that I am actually a perfectly amazing human being, and that I don’t need to change anything to prove it.  I need to be shown ways of feeling better without resorting to obsession or addiction to stop myself from hurting. I need someone to share this journey with me and remind me to detach from my feelings and just observe them, on those occasions when they threaten to overwhelm me.  I need to be listened to and have my pain understood. But above all, I need to accept that there is a higher power outside of me that is directing my life.  I need to trust that my higher power is showing me the way and I just have to quieten my mind to hear the messages.

I believe that we are all co-dependent in some way, ie. dependent on someone or something outside ourselves for our inner worth.  That includes those that categorise us and tell us that we have some sort of disorder.

I have been on this journey now for a number of years and I no longer feel most of what I have written about here. I learned that when my feelings of anger, sadness or panic felt overwhelming, that I needed to observe what I was reacting to and ask myself whether my feelings were out of proportion with any event that had occurred. Often this was an event in my own mind and not based on any current reality at all!

The act of observation seemed to set off an unconscious analysis process that would send me enlightenments at some later time about what had really caused me to have these feelings.  Each of these was a light-bulb moment, and the minute the connection between the original event and the current feeling was identified, it lost its power to hurt me.  Once a hurtful event and a current emotion were disconnected, I started to forget the event and no longer felt the emotion.

If you are reading this, then some of this will resonate with you.  It is not a solution to co-dependency, but it is a very important part of the healing process.  Objective self-observation will help you unravel the painful connections.  Sharing the journey with someone who is also travelling the same path will give you a friend who can reflect and validate your feelings.  Trusting in a higher power will over time give you the inner strength to continue with this journey in the knowledge that you are and always were a perfect spiritual being.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Moving from Fear to Love

The two main emotions that we as human beings feel, are fear and love. They are not absolute emotions and can be felt in different ways.  Happiness and joy and both aspects of love, just as anger and misery are both aspects of fear.

Many of us grew up feeling that we weren't really loved by our parents and so our experience of love was mostly of sadness and loss.  If our parents didn't love us, we also grew up with the feeling that there must be something wrong with us for them not to love us. 

As adults we may continue to feel fear in some way when we are in relationships.  The inherent feeling that we are flawed because our parents didn't love us, is something that doesn't go away. As adults, we may also fear that those we choose to have relationships with, will also leave us. So we push people away, so that we can leave them before they leave us.  We'll then have to rationalise this to ourselves in some way to justify our actions.

If the feelings of being flawed are strong enough, we may find those feelings about ourselves, difficult to accept.  None of us want to believe that there is something so fundamentally wrong with us that no-one could love us. So we may attribute our fears to the person we fear losing and convince ourselves that the fears we feel are actually felt by the other person, and therefore we are doing the right thing in pushing this person away.

Clearly, none of us is inherently flawed in any way, even if that is what we believe. The fact that someone chooses to have a relationship with us means that they find us lovable.  But this can become a cycle that is difficult to break, and to begin to change our internal programming, we first have to notice the way our ego or critical parent inner voice talks to us.

Our ego will use scaremonger tactics to remove us from perceived danger.  It will include words like 'always' and 'never' and convince us that it has our best interests at heart, because it is only trying to keep us safe.  We have to take away the power from this internal voice to start to undo this damaging programming.

By being aware of it, we can start to question what it is saying. We can compare what the ego is telling us with objective reality.  We can refuse to be overwhelmed by our emotions and think the situation through logically.  We can stop reacting to the terrorising inner voice.  All of these will help to quieten the ego, that is just trying to protect us from being hurt.

At the same time as becoming the observer of our own thoughts, we also need to re-programme our emotions and change our negative beliefs to positive ones.  By repeating affirmations on a regular basis, we will change the neural pathways in the brain that support that belief.  So over time, we will feel differently.  So saying an affirmation such as 'I am a lovable person and I deserve the best relationship' will over time change our feelings about ourselves in relationship to others.

There is no quick fix for feelings that have taken a lifetime to create, but we can choose to begin changing them at any time, just by the act of observation, questioning the rational validity of the ego defenses and changing our belief in fear to a belief in love.

Friday 25 May 2012

Overcoming Obsessive Thinking

We adopt an amazing array of emotional defences to protect ourselves from feeling emotional pain.  We tend to spend a lot of time in our heads, thinking, fantasising or worrying (negative fantasising).  When we do this, we are always in either the future or the past, trying to escape unpleasant feelings in the present.

We distort the facts, magnify the consequences and try to predict and control the outcome. This type of thinking becomes addictive and is the result of early childhood trauma and our attempts at survival in an emotionally hostile and unsupportive environment.  But as adults, we are no longer either helpless or powerless, and we can begin the process of recovery by choosing not to react to the melodramas created by our wounded inner children.

Just by observing our reactions instead of being overwhelmed by them is the first step to removing the power that our ego has over us and to healing the wounds that created this coping mechanism.

The minute you begin to observe any aspect of your thinking or reactions, it starts to lose its power over you and just the act of observation whilst refusing to engage in the melodrama, will over time quieten the reaction and give you greater inner peace.

Welcome to the journey

This is my first post on a journey that I would like to share with others, travelling the road out of the inner discomfort of co-dependence.  I have been travelling this road for the past ten years, when someone told me that co-dependence was not a happy place to live and that although it wasn't my fault, I was the only one that could make the decision to undo the emotional damage that my dysfunctional upbringing had caused.

I have been lucky to have been given many helpers on this journey, and I have discovered that there will always be parts of me that need mending, no matter how far I think I have travelled along this road.  It has also struck me that in helping others to recover from their issues, I am also highlighting the issues in myself that I need to work on.  So this really is a journey that we all share and not one where one person 'heals' another because they are ok, but the other person is not.

We are all 'ok' but many of us don't believe this.  We can all help each other along this path.  We aren't broken and we don't need fixing, but we can all learn from each others' triumphs. If anything I say is helpful to you, then that is great. I'm sure that you will also have much to teach me.  So for everyone that would like to contribute, I would like to say ' Welcome to the journey'.