It’s been a while since my last post. Things keep moving right along. The older I get, the more I realize what a great life I have. I’m always writing about being grateful and kind. Both are important. I also think it’s important to be observant. Check out what is right under your nose. We worry too much about what we don’t have. What does our friend have that we want. Where did they go that I haven’t been? Look much thinner is that person than I am? What about looking at what we DO have. If we spend too much time dwelling on where we “want” to be or what we “wish” we had, we’ll forget to appreciate what we have and where we are right now. Another thing we have to remember is that if we keep saying how unhappy we are it will make those around us feel like they are somehow to blame. I read an interesting thought on a card the other day. It said “Happiness is where you plant it.” I believe that is true. A few little things to be happy about… lady bugs, chocolate, naps, smiles, sunsets…
Life has a funny way of “reminding” us of things we have done in our past. Every minute of every day we should be mindful of what we do and say. Our actions, comments, gestures, etc. all become part of our past experiences and the experiences of those we encounter.
It seems like it should be so easy to avoid creating “past hurts.” Just don’t create them, right? I’m learning why it’s not that easy. I have firsthand knowledge of how these hurts resurface late in a person’s live. I am speaking specifically from recent experience. At this very moment I am witnessing past hurts making themselves very current and real. It’s a strange phenomenon to watch. The particular past hurts I’m talking about are hurts that cut deep. They are ugly. They are mean. They are scary. They are cruel. They are sad. Past hurts are part of what mold us as people. They are unfortunately a huge factor in making us who we are. No matter how much we try to deny, hide from, bury or ignore them, past hurts are there. Usually in a big way.
The process of creating “past hurts” is a complex and when they’re created it’s sometimes unintentional. Sort of a learned behavior. It is far too complicated to explain in my blog and I’m certainly not qualified. But I want to give my opinion for what it’s worth.
We will do whatever it takes to experience these important emotions. We will especially do whatever it takes to please the ones who are supposed to love us, keep us safe and accept us the most in our lives. These people are our parents and families.
Simply put, people learn early in life just what they have to do to feel loved, safe and accepted. Good or bad, these “tapes” are recorded in our brains at about six years old, from what I’ve heard. Again, I’m not an expert but I trust the source of this information. WOW!! At six our core personalities are pretty much set. No wonder at 47 I’m still figuring out how to erase and re-record!
I know it’s not possible to recreate our past or erase past experiences. I also know it is possible to make peace with past hurts and fill yourself up with better stuff!!! I truly do KNOW this. Depending on how you look at it you can have fun doing it or you can make it seem more like work! I’m doing it and I’m having fun. Yes, I have some bad days. I do still have little pity parties for the little girl in me who didn’t have a daddy who carried her on his shoulders or tucked her in at night and called her Princess. (Sorry, I digress…)
My point is, I have choices to make every day. I can carry on the negative thoughts and feelings or I can have fun creating wonderful future “past” experiences for myself and those I encounter. Baking cookies with my niece, telling stories to my grandson,
thanking a soldier, reminding my kids how much I love and appreciate them… These are all things I “choose” to do. And they make me and someone else happy. Hey, a positive “past” experience had by all. It’s actually pretty easy.
Here are a few things I’ve been thinking of as I write;
If you want your children to grow up to be nice people, be nice to them and be nice to others, your kids are watching.
If you want to be respected, treat others with respect.
If you want to be appreciated, show appreciation for the things you have and the people who do nice things for you.
If you want to smile, make someone else smile.
If you want to feel good, make others feel good.
If you want your children to be confident, never stop telling them how proud they make you.
If you want to be understood, try to understand how someone else feels before you think about your own feelings.
If you want to have close friends, offer your support to a friend in need.
If you want your children to be kind, show them how.
If rude people bother you, don’t be rude yourself.
Remember. Be mindful of what you do and say every minute of every day. After all. You’re creating “past” experiences.
I am going to end with something I read recently in an article about setting priorities. A man was talking about a slap in the face he got when he heard his 5-year-old son talking to a little friend. His little boy said, “I don’t think my Daddy likes being around me. Every time I ask him to play with me when he comes home from work he says he’s too tired.” This man broke down and cried! Now he plays with his son in the morning before work and in the evening after dinner, every single day!! And a lot more on weekends. Bad “past hurts” transformed into “great memories” and far more for a lucky little boy and his Dad!
Why do I get so upset about bad decisions made by the people I love? I think I just obsess about what I could have done differently myself to make a positive influence on what they do in their lives. Once again I’m reminded that I am only in control of ME! You’re only in control of YOU. Just ’cause we love them doesn’t mean we’ll always be happy with their choices. All we can do is pray for them and be there if they need us.
Listening to my triggers November 15, 2009
Depression. It’s an ugly word. I’ve been there. It’s an ugly place. I don’t want to go back. Ever! So, I decided to learn how to stay away from it. I listen to the people who know how to help me. No, it hasn’t been easy. Yes, I am tested at times. And I make a choice with every test. I know my triggers. What I need more practice at is recognizing the triggers before they engulf my thinking. I’ve mentioned before the idea of “pausing” and taking a breath. The instant I feel the twinge of fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, etc. I have to step back, take a deep breath and ask myself, “what was I just thinking or doing that caused that feeling?” Once I recognize the cause, or trigger, I can stop my brain from its learned behavior of distorted thinking. The technical term is “Cognitive Distortions.”
This has been a long road. And it is a tough job. Changing the way a mind had been working for over 40 years is no small task. I’ve made it a challenge for myself. I went through a Cognitive Therapy program where I learned to use Thought Records. This is how I learned about thought distortions. In a nutshell, you write down a horrible thought you have about yourself, what proof there is that the thought is actually true, then you write down proof that the thought is actually not true and is in fact very distorted. I got so good at doing these thought records that I can do them quickly in my head and move past the horrible thought.
Before Cognitive Therapy, I would have let a horrible thought about myself spiral out of control until I convinced myself that I was the dumbest, most irresponsible, meanest person on the face of the earth. Now I challenge those thoughts. I move past them before they’re able to get their grip on me. A bright light went on in my head when I realized I really can control my thoughts. A bright light in my head and a big smile on my face.
When things are particularly stressful, I sometimes forget about the thought records. The anxious, afraid, angry or sad feelings come up. I get mad at myself for allowing the bad feelings to surface. Then… I take a deep breath. I remind myself that I am only human. Next time I’ll try harder to recognize the triggers that set the thoughts in motion. Then I’ll be able to stop the thoughts in their tracks and head off the bad feelings.
I’m not trying to make it sound easy. It’s not. But nothing will work unless you try. I decided to try and discovered it works!