I have been working in the mental health/addictions/human sexuality for field for over 20 years. I have counseled hundreds of individuals and couples, as well as facilitated hundreds of groups. For nearly 10 years prior to this I was in my own process of learning, growing, and overcoming many years of depression and low self-esteem. I worked with counselors, attended 12 step and support groups, kept a journal, and read many self-help books. Am I cured or immune from all my old thinking, beliefs, and behaviors? No I am not. Am I much better at maintaining a more positive and realistic frame of mind? I certainly am.
During the past couple of years I have posted many helpful ways of looking at life and managing feelings and the events we encounter. I hope this information has helped the thousands of people who have viewed my blog. But, offering this information and making suggestions is much easier that applying these things to my own life. I do a pretty good job for the most part maintaining balance in my life and my emotions. Am I able to apply these each and every day to each and every hurdle I encounter? The truth is that sometimes it isn’t so easy to reach into my bag of tricks and I experience the anxiety, anger, and depression that we all do. I don’t always remember the things I know. I have human experiences just like everyone else.
One way I benefit from all the work I’ve done on myself is that any emotional upheaval I experience is not as deep or long lasting as it once was. It is much easier to find my center once again. The things I suggest in my blog as well as ways to see the world which make it easier to manage are things I apply in my own life. Many people I know and many of my clients use what they have learned working with me. I have seen amazing changes in my life and in the lives of many others over the years. It took applying what we have learned consistently and being persistent. If you have the desire to improve and change your life you can. It takes time to change.
I remember when I was much younger I was devastated that something I had expected to happen did not turn out as I thought. I was so angry that I decided that I would never have expectations again. That was a very wise thought and would have been very helpful for me to avoid tremendous disappointment and depression if I had followed through with that decision. I allowed my unmet expectations to cause me great emotional distress many times over the years. I really didn’t get that having expectations was complicating my life. It took many years and a great deal of disappointment for me to revisit having expectations.
One thing I learned over the years has to do with what I have control over and what I do not have control over. For the most part, only those things I do for myself and are not influenced by something outside myself are the things I can reasonably have expectations of the outcome. Even those things can turn out in a way I don’t expect. Anything that is not totally in my control I have little control of the outcome. Having expectations can give me a feeling of entitlement and can cause me to be in the role of the victim if the outcome is not what I had expected. If life does not meet my expectations it can have a negative impact on my self-worth.
We all have wants, desires, and preferences. Try to avoid having expectations.
Have you ever been told that you engage in self-sabotage or self-destructive behavior? For those of us who have been told this, it can be very confusing and frustrating. Others appear to be able to identify our patterns of behavior that cause issues in our lives. They also prevent us from having a meaningful and fulfilling life. These behaviors are habitual and come from a place outside of our awareness. Our life seems to be going just fine and seemingly out of the blue things fall apart. This can happen in one or many areas of our lives.
Others tell us that we are creating the barriers that keep us from having good relationships, stable finances, and other success in our lives. We find it difficult or impossible to identify what we do wrong. This causes us to blame and become victims of one thing or person or another. The result is depression, anxiety, the inability to have relationships, poor self esteem, and feelings of shame. The first step to overcoming any issue is to identify the problem. But, you must first overcome your fear of confronting the issues and changing.
There is a constant conversation in our heads. These are the thoughts that create what meaning we give things and how we feel. Our behavior is based on this process. We all learn how to navigate life by watching the adults in our lives when we are children. As child, we develop of our beliefs about ourselves, others, what to expect from the world, as well as our expectations of others. Be us and doing things how we do things is the only way we know how to be. Unless we are exposed to and open to exploring alternative thinking and/or behavior we are unable to change. We repeat the same behaviors again and again.
The best way I have found to identify the thought patterns that drive our behavior is to keep a journal. There are two goals. The first goal is to increase awareness of that conversation in our head that I mentioned earlier and paying attention to it. The second goal is identifying thoughts or meanings that may not be valid or stand in our ways. These two steps afford you the opportunity for find alternative thinking and behavior. I have found this process is extremely effective.
Working with a counselor or coach can vastly increase the likelihood of very important improvements in the quality of our lives. Give it a try. You have nothing to loose and everything to gain.
To be continued……………………………..
Depression is the most common emotional issue people have to deal with. You can be depressed and not even be aware of it. The best way to overcome depression is to catch it early and take the steps necessary to limiting the affects.
Symptoms: Low energy/lack of motivation, change in sleep pattern (sleeping more or less), change in appetite (eating more or less), feeling negative or hopeless, and avoiding social situations/isolating.
Steps to overcoming depression: Get moving/ increase your activity, eat healthy, and get out and be with people and avoid isolating. I also suggest you keep a journal and write about your thoughts and feelings. This way you can more easily identify the issues that are troubling you. Changing how you see things goes a long way toward improving mood.
You can get out of your funk and begin enjoying life again without relying on medication. If your depression persists, you may have a medical issue. Consult your doctor.
I saw a video over the weekend and it really got me thinking about the meaning of my life and the importance I give to events I experience. It made me wonder if I give thing way too much meaning and allow events to affect me entirely too much. Take a look.
From the perspective of time, we are alive for a blink of an eye. Even the most important things most of us experience will be known by a relatively few or affect even fewer. One of the guiding posts for how important something has been to me and how much emotional energy it deserves has been: Will anyone care in 100 years? I understand even more the importance of events, or the lack thereof, when seen from the perspective of the universe and infinity. Even more reason to limit the impact even the most life changing events have on me. My life has value to me. I want to get the most of every day that I live. The quicker I can shed the setback, disappointments, losses, and other things that can negatively impact my emotions the quicker I can get back to a rewarding life. In reality, considering the big picture, what happens in my life has no real meaning and are actually a series of events. Seeing it this way changes everything.
I think it is a good idea to go through the process of dealing with, learning from, and moving forward as quickly as we can. Life is too short to allow events to limit our experiences or allow emotional pain or fears to inhibit our ability to enjoy life.