Monday, May 12, 2014

Ten Beliefs That Will Not Cause Problems

As promised, here they are. I'd be very interested in hearing which ones resonate with you and what your reactions are. This stuff is so interesting!

1. Everyone doesn't have to love me.

Not everyone has to love me or even like me. I don't necessarily like everyone I know so why should everyone else like me? I enjoy being liked and being loved, but if someone doesn't like me I will still be okay and still feel like I am an okay person. I cannot "make" someone like me any more than someone can get me to like them. I don't need approval all the time. If someone does not approve of me, I will still be okay.

2. It is okay to make mistakes.

Making mistakes is something we all do, and I am still a fine and worthwhile person when I make mistakes. There is no reason for me to get upset when I make a mistake. I am trying and if I make a mistake, I am going to continue trying. I can handle making a mistake. It is okay for others to make mistakes, too. I will accept mistakes in myself and also mistakes that others make.

3. Other people are okay and I am okay.

People who do things I don't like are not necessarily bad people. They should not necessarily be punished just because I don't like what they do or did. There is no reason why another person should be the way I want them to be and there is no reason why I should be the way someone else wants me to be. People will b whatever they want to be, and I will be whatever I want to be. I cannot control other people or change the. They are who they are; we all deserve basic respect and reasonable treatment.

4. I don't have to control things.

I will survive if things are different than what I want them to be. I can accept things the way they are and accept myself the way I am. There is no reason to get upset if I can't change things to fit my idea of how they ought to be. There is no reason why I should have to like everything. Even if I don't like it, I can live with it.

5. I am responsible for my day.

I am responsible for how I feel and for what I do. No one can make me feel anything. If I have a rotten day, I am the one who allowed it to be that way If I have a great day, I am the one who deserves credit for being positive. It is not the responsibility of other people to change so that I can feel better. I am the one who is in charge of my life.

6. I can handle it when things go wrong.

I don't need to watch out for things to go wrong. things usually go just fine, and when they don't, I can handle it. I don't have to waste my energy worrying. The sky won't fall in; things will be okay.

7. It is important to try.

I can. Even though I may be faced with difficult tasks, it is better to try than to avoid them. Avoiding a task does not give me any opportunities for success or joy, but trying does. Things worth having are worth the effort. I might not be able to do everything, but I can do something.

8. I am capable.

I don't need someone else to take care of my problems. I am capable. I can take care of myself. I can make decisions for myself. I can think for myself. I don't have to depend on someone else to take care of me.

9. I can change.

I don't have to be a certain way because of what has happened in the past. Every day is a new day. it's not true to think I can't help being the way I am. Of course I can.

10. Other people are capable.

I can't solve other people's problems for them. I don't have to take on other people's problems as if they were my own. I don't need to change other people or fix up their lives. They are capable and can take care of themselves, and can solve their own problems. I can care and be of some help, but I can't do everything for them.

Sheesh! I see myself in so many of them. But like #9 says, I can change! Sorry if this is too much touchy-feely stuff. More funny stories and cute kids later. Oh, and there's no indication on the handout what this is from, but if you want to know the source, I can ask the powers that be at Crazy School.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Crazy School: Weeks 3-?

Anyone who knows me well knows that I cry easily. I see a sappy Hallmark card commercial, I cry. I hear a news report with a mom in Syria crying about her dead child, I cry. Someone flips me off for accidentally cutting them off, I cry. And then there was the time I saw a live production of West Side Story and embarrassed my date by sobbing so loudly. Yeah. If I were a Care Bear, I'd be Tenderheart Bear. 

I'm like Gus, a Sympathetic Crier.
But I also sometimes cry when I recognize truth, when something deeply affects me and I connect with it on a spiritual level.

A while back in Crazy School, we were talking about distorted thinking. I talked a little about it on my post here, about cognitive distortions. Different terms, same thing. So we were talking in our class about different types of thought distortions, like catastrophizing. You know, worrying about something, making it a bigger deal in your mind than it really is. Or overgeneralization. Your husband forgets to take out the trash and you get mad because he NEVER takes out the trash! We talked about how you can challenge these thought distortions. You can say to yourself, "Really? He never takes out the trash? Then why isn't our house buried in trash? He must take it out most of the time. I'm glad he does that." Or with catastrophizing, you can say, "I don't know what the future holds. I'm going to stay in the now. Whatever happens, I can deal with it." One of the thought distortions I could relate a lot to was personalization. I'll quote from the handout: "Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who's smarter, better looking, etc."  As we were working on coming up with statements that could challenge our individual distortions, the clinician gave us a handout to help. "Ten Beliefs That Will Not Cause Problems." Weird title, I know. I read the heading of the first belief, "Everyone doesn't have to love me." Tears instantly sprang to my eyes. I read on, 

Not everyone has to love me or even like me. I enjoy being liked and being loved, but if someone doesn't like me I will still be okay and still feel like I am an okay person. I cannot "make" someone like me any more than someone can get me to like them. I don't need approval all the time. If someone does not approve of me, I will still be okay."

It's hard to put into words what an impact that had on me. It's like my mind realized three things all at once: 1) I'd lived my whole life believing everyone DID need to love me; 2) I never realized I'd been operating under that belief system; and 3) That it was false and was causing me pain. So that's what my head was doing. My heart just wigged out and told my eyes to cry. It was like someone's been carrying a backpack full of rocks around for decades and suddenly they realize that they can take it off. 

Maybe this seems like "duh" stuff to you all. But it was huge to me. I started to look at my life and see how this false belief has affected me. Even in group therapy, I've noticed that I try really hard to be the helpful, happy, upbeat one. I'm not afraid to be real and talk about my problems in group, but most days, I'm trying to help everyone else. I'm bringing cookies. I'm checking in with the ones who seem most troubled. How much of it is flowing out of an inner well of love and goodness, and how much is just a desperate plea to love me? Don't you love my chocolate chip cookies? You should love me, too! 

I have more to say about this, but I'll end here for now because it's past my bedtime. But if anyone is interested, I can post the rest of the Non-Problem-Causing thoughts. Maybe your mind will be blown. Or maybe I'm the only one having Ted-like epiphanies over here.