Time For A Thought Check

Do you sabotage yourself for no good reason?  Have you ever said, “Why do I do this to myself?” And then do the same destructive things over and over?  If so, you may have a belief or a script running in your mind that you are not even aware of.  Or you could be aware of it, but not know how to change it.  You may not even know that it is possible to change.

For many years I had scripts running in my head that I never actually verbalized, but I let them color my thoughts and emotions.  I can speak them now because I had to examine them before I could stop believing them.  They went something like this, “I am adopted, my mom gave me up, there must be something wrong with me.” Or “My adoptive dad is an alcoholic, my adoptive mom is verbally abusive, there must be something wrong with me.”  And of course, “I am fat, and I want to eat all the time, there must be something wrong with me.”

I had many more. But they were all used for the same purpose; to allow me to feel sorry for myself and to get others to feel sorry for me. This was the only way I knew to get the attention I needed and wanted.

For years, I was unaware these scripts ruled my thoughts and behaviors, they were so ingrained.  And even though someone told me about them and that I needed to change them, I didn’t get the message until I read the book ‘Feeling Good’ by Dr. David Burns. That was in the early 90’s.  It was my first taste of cognitive therapy and the beginning of the life I wanted to live.

Cognitive therapy was not a complete cure for all my problems, but it started me on the path of taking responsibility for my feelings. I learned that I created my own suffering with my thoughts.  It took many years to delete all the scripts.  But this was only because I had the idea that the process of psychological change was difficult, time consuming and painful.  And even though I went to therapists and programs, I didn’t do the homework.

When I finally made the commitment to become emotionally and physically healthy, it was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  I realized I was worth making changes and it became natural to want to change for the better.  I got the courage to question my core beliefs and tell myself the truth about who I was.  And the truth is this -I am a good and worthy person and my value has nothing to do with what anyone thinks about me, what has happened in my past or even how I behave right now.

Knowing this truth allowed me to begin to make a few good decisions.  Making good decisions boosted my esteem and helped me make even better decisions.  This helped me rise up even more.  It’s like getting into an upward spiral.  The more you do the right thing, the more confident you get about who you are, and the more good things you do for yourself.  Then you start to reach out to help others and you almost forget what it feels like to be fearful, weak and full of self-pity.

There is always more than one way to accomplish what you want, but the best way is your way.  Read, listen and learn from others, but sift through all the information and find what works best for you.  You are worth it.

Suggested reading Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns (look for the latest edition) or Summary of Feeling Good by Fastreads

For list of cognitive distortions and ways to untwist your thinking, click here.

For a list of self defeating thoughts and counter thoughts, click here.

 

“We can put ourselves in an upward spiral with one belief. That belief is -Our value is inherent.  It does not depend on our size, shape, color, talent, intelligence, financial or emotional status or past experience.”

palms and ocean

Loved Ones, Addiction, Happiness

God chose me to be the mother of the children I have.  They are not mine.  They are God’s children.  Just as I am God’s child.  He will take care of them as he has taken care of me.  They have everything they need to be everything they were meant to be in this world.  All that happens, unfolds in God’s time and through his mercy.  There will no one thing that defeats them or me. 

I don’t pretend to understand the divine connection, or why God does anything he does, or even if God ‘does’ anything in the sense we understand the word ‘doing’, but I respect it.  Just last week, I wrote an article about being happy regardless of your circumstances.  I was writing from a place of peace and contentment.  Everything in my life was humming along just fine.

And even though I’m not sure why, or even if, God would test me, I am writing this new article on happiness while one of my children is on a path of destruction.  This child of mine, now an adult, is missing, not physically, but mentally.  He is trying to hide feelings, but all his actions and words point to the futility he feels about life.  He is beaten down, given up.  He’s mired in self-degradation and pity.

He’s been bouncing between the sober world of striving to build a good life and the wasted world of alcohol, drugs and self-sabotage.  In both worlds, he is a good man, but he does not know this.  He thinks he must earn his value as a person, although I cannot really say what he is thinking.  I just know that whatever it is, it is self-destructive.

I recognize this because I have been through it.  I didn’t go as far with alcohol and drugs, but food and body issues were my pacifiers for many years.  Of course, this is no consolation for me because it can lead me to believe that in some way, this is my fault.  If only I had raised him differently, or if I had only taken him to church when he was little, or if only I had my shit together much sooner in life.  But it occurs to me that this type of thinking only puts me back on that same old path of self-pity.

If I blame myself for my children’s failures, that means I must take credit for their accomplishments, of which they all, including him, have many.  And this is just not the case.  All my children are great people in their own right, and even though I am proud of them, I take no credit or blame for what they do.  They live the lives they want to live, and if I passed any bad traits down, I was passing them from my own genetics and experiences, just as they were passed down to me.  And for as many bad characteristics and behaviors that were passed down, there were more good qualities, from both their dad and me.

So, what do you do when you see someone you love in self-wrecking mode?
I used to think I had to be the one to make everything better, to help.  But I know now that helping is just a nice word for enabling.  And I have done my share of enabling.  This is something an addict must work out on his own.  It may not work out the way I want it to, or in the time I want it to, but something in my soul tells me that, no matter what happens, life will work itself out for the best.  So, the answer to the question is, stay in faith.  Don’t get despondent. Keep your cool.

Being happy in this kind of situation does not mean I do not care or that I am shoving it all down and trying to just push through the pain.  Yes, I worry a little, and I have let that worry color my interactions.  And I could speculate about why events occur the way they do, but no matter how much I ruminate, I cannot change the past or read the mind of God to know the future.  So I don’t do this.  I make myself stronger by reading encouraging works, writing, and interacting with others.

My heart feels physically heavy, almost to the point of breaking, but I am still happy with my life and everything in it that I am privileged to be a part of.  My core of joy, though getting a work out right now, is based on a faith that God’s love envelopes me and my children, no matter what is going on.

You can be the happiest person you know. click here

featured image from Pixabay

 

“Your value is intrinsic.  It is not determined by what you do.  When you realize this, you can function fully.”

banff

 

Our Functional Lies

Recovering from binge eating is not unlike recovering from an addiction.  Even though I don’t believe binge eating falls into the addiction category (here’s why), I do recognize that there are underlying beliefs and attitudes common to both.  The one I want to focus on today is truth.  Or rather lying.  It’s not truth that is the problem, it’s the lies we tell to cover up the truth, to disguise ourselves from reality.

Some of us, myself included, believe our own lies.  We become so adept at telling them, we forget there is a truth.  Lying becomes a thing we must do to make ourselves more valuable or at least less shameful.  You may impress someone with a lie, but once you speak it, trust is broken down.  You can’t build a relationship on lies or half-truths.  And you can’t trust yourself when you don’t know what the truth really is. So, how do we get out of this maze?

You must first recognize you have a problem.  I’m not talking about your overeating problem.  You already recognized that or your wouldn’t be reading this blog.  But think about the kind of lies you tell others or yourself, not just deceitful lies, but your functional lies.  These can be lies about your feelings, needs and desires.  They can be lies about your past or even about not being hungry and pushing your plate away when you really want to finish that pasta.  We use these lies to prevent shame or enhance our standing in someone else’s eyes.  We use them to trick ourselves into believing we are okay or are doing the right thing.

I used to tell the story that I learned how to swim because my dad pushed me off a dock into a deep lake when I was seven years old.  In reality, I took swimming lessons the summer I was seven.  I also used to tell people that I went to Catholic school from first through twelfth grade.  Actually, I only went to parochial school for a few years.  But, to me, it just sounded more impressive to say otherwise.

These lies were innocuous. They were not bad or dangerous, but they reinforced a sense in me that I was not enough as I was.  I had to constantly think of enhancements to my story to keep people interested.  And the more I told these lies, the easier it was to weave a tapestry of a false life.

 Once you start this, it eventually becomes second nature to hide events and thoughts and feelings from others.  You may even be convinced that you are protecting them.  But this is an arrogant position to function from, as if you think you are smarter or have a greater depth of being than everyone around you. You convince yourself you must lie so that others will not make false assumptions about you, because they would never understand and accept you if you told them the truth, right?

In this type of existence, you may feel lost and empty, you don’t know what you want out of life because you cannot accept yourself for who you are.  In my case, this led to harsh scrutiny of my body.  I didn’t have very close relationships with other stable people and instead of examining my interactions with them, I blamed my outward appearance. I looked for diets and food plans to keep me on track and when these failed, I became bulimic.  Even after overcoming bulimia, I was still obsessed with food and body issues, for many years, to a point of malfunction.

And really, all the suffering I put myself through over the years was only caused because I believed the biggest lie of all – that I was not good enough just the way I was.

 

“I am not concerned what others think about me, I am concerned what God thinks about me.” MDcut out advanced