Weekly Theme: Forgiveness and Resentment

Weekly Theme: Forgiveness and Resentment

Forgiveness and Resentment

Letting Go of Resentments, Pain, and Anger

Forgiveness is not giving up nor is it admitting defeat. Forgiveness is about taking power back. Making a conscious decision to let go of resentments, pain, and anger. Some people are not ready to forgive and rightly so. What about victims of sexual assault and violence as well as people who have suffered physical, emotional abuse, and unearned shame? Is it not appropriate to feel rage or become victimized due to events that have happened directly or indirectly to us?

 

The Perils of Resentment

We can let suffering consume us. Suffering and resentments can control our whole worldview including our biases and attitude. When we look objectively at how our resentments have power over us, we can see how we engage in belittling ourselves. This can, in turn, increase our own self-loathing and even convince us we deserve it. Additionally, we act upon anger and allow it to dominate our actions and perceptions of the world.

 

Making a Personal Decision

Forgiveness can begin the process of emotionally disconnecting ourselves from the events and pain that we have used to define us. Forgiveness is not about forgetting. Nor is it about believing that what happened to create our resentments is acceptable. It is about making a personal decision that one does not want to be emotionally controlled by the events, memories, and perception of self that resentments manifest.

 

How Do We Forgive?

Some of us are ready to forgive. There are many ways to forgive and the least of all is giving the incomplete advice of “Just let this go.” Well, how? How do people “let go”? How do people forgive? For some it is a mere acknowledging that the incident(s) occurred, facing the emotions that arise, and stating forgiveness. Others need rituals or prayer to assist in maintaining the intention of forgiveness. Forgiveness can act like the tide of the ocean or the changing moon. Furthermore, our resentments can creep back in, even after we have made the conscious decision to forgive. In this case, one needs to repeat the action of forgiveness. Take a little more power back until the resentment has eventually been drained and the individual is free from that resentment.

 

Fostering Forgiveness

It is our job to help foster forgiveness. More importantly, to help our clients answer the question of how to forgive. It is also not our job to push someone to forgive when they are not ready as those individuals may still need to be further defined or come to a better understanding or acknowledge lessons to be learned from the experience before they become willing and ready to forgive. Even if that lesson is to realize how much damage and influence these resentments have had in our lives, and then we can pose the question “Are you ready to let this go?”

Weekly Theme: Inner Child Healing

Weekly Theme: Inner Child Healing

Inner Child Healing

A Guided Meditation

Get comfortable and let’s try this guided meditation together: Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it, then blow out through your mouth. Do that four more times. Next, I want you to think of a time when you were younger and you felt like you needed someone. Think of where you were living at this time. I want you to picture this house you were living in. Stand outside of this house. Now, take a look around. For example, see the color of the house, notice the yard, the cars in the driveway. Additionally, listen to the sounds of the neighborhood. Finally, walk into your childhood house. Look around. Notice the pictures on the walls, touch the furniture, find your favorite knickknacks, smell all the smells. Walk around the house, trace the walls with your fingertips.

I want you to find your old bedroom. The door is closed. Behind that door is a younger you. A younger you who is having a hard time and needs someone. I want you to open the door to your bedroom and see your younger self. What does younger you need? Someone to hold you? To hug you? To tell you that everything is going to be alright? Do you need someone to make you feel protected? Safe? On the other hand, do you need to be seen? To be heard? To be told that you matter? Do you need someone to just acknowledge you and play with your toys with you? Or do you need someone to help you? Do you need to feel loved?

Spend some time with younger you, doing whatever it is you needed at that time in your life. Sit here for a few moments, holding space for your younger self to feel the things they so desperately crave to feel. After you have sat with younger you for some time, I would like for you to say “goodbye for now” to little you. Take one last look around your bedroom before you leave, closing the door behind you. Take a few last moments looking around your home, smelling the smells, and touching the walls. As you leave your childhood home and find yourself closing the front door, look around your neighborhood one last time. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it, and let it out through your mouth. Come back to the present time.

 

Carl Jung and Inner Child Healing

Last week, during a group, we did this exact meditation with the clients. With Halloween being this past weekend, it was a perfect time to shine a light on those inner children. Candy, decorations, costumes, games, pumpkin carving. All things that tickle the kid in us! Carl Jung first proposed the idea of inner child healing after he examined his own childlike inner-feelings and emotions. When wounded, these inner children negatively influence who we are as adults, holding enormous power over our relationships and decisions. However, your inner child can also lend you strength. In fact, regaining youthful feelings of wonder, optimism, and simple joy in life can help with confidence and your well-being!

 

The Little You Inside

Your inner child is exactly what it sounds like. Specifically, little you inside of adult you. In other words, the you that comes out when you see a rainbow, go to a theme park, play a board game, etc. Everyone has an inner child. However, if your inner child is wounded, they may not feel safe enough to come out and play. Your inner child may feel damaged or forgotten about. “Inner children are the lens through which injured adults make their decisions.” The first step in healing your inner child is to acknowledge it is there (like any child) and that he or she is wounded. In fact, the harm done to your inner child directly correlates with the ways you feel unsafe in the world. For example, here are some signs that you have a wounded inner child.

  • A deep feeling that there is something wrong with you
  • Being a people-pleaser
  • Rebelling and feeling alive when in conflict with someone else
  • Being a hoarder
  • Not being able to let go of possessions and people
  • Experience anxiety with something new
  • Feeling guilty for setting boundaries
  • Driven to be a super-achiever
  • Being ridged and a perfectionist
  • Having problems starting and finishing tasks
  • Exhibit constant self-criticism
  • Feel ashamed at expressing emotions
  • Ashamed of your body
  • Having a deep distrust of anyone else
  • Avoiding conflict, no matter what the cost
  • A fear of abandonment

If you ignore it, your inner child can manifest in anxiety, depression, PTSD, emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, addiction, difficulty functioning, and isolation from others.

 

Allowing Ourselves to Heal

Our inner child wants to be happy, but we have to make it safe for them to do so. Try exploring new and old things in life that may excite and bring joy to little you. Additionally, allow yourself to explore these new or old passions with a childlike wonder and intentionally find ways to bring more laughter into your life. When we allow our inner child to come out and play, we allow ourselves to heal and be truly, genuinely happy from the inside out. So, whether you focus on the wounds or look for the glimmering sparkle of optimism and hope, let little you come out and play.

Weekly Theme: Psychosis and Schizophrenia

Weekly Theme: Psychosis and Schizophrenia

Psychosis and Schizophrenia

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis is sensory perceptions and abnormal thinking experienced by an individual struggling with a schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic-based disorder. Reminder! We are not here to judge you or label you. We are here to help you manage these symptoms with resources and support.

 

How Does Someone Even Get This Disorder?

There is no clear indicator of how an individual develops the symptoms of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. Researchers suggest that it could be anything from genetics to psychological or environmental factors. It’s also important to note that it manifests in the late teens, 20’s and even early 30’s and affects both men and women.

 

What Do Sensory Perceptions and Abnormal Thinking Mean?

Sensory perceptions, or hallucinations, are perception-like experiences that occur without an external stimulus. They can occur as things you vividly and clearly hear, see, smell and even touch. Sometimes they happen throughout the day but research suggests that they mostly occur before you fall asleep or as you are waking up. Delusions, or abnormal thinking, are fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change despite conflicting evidence. One might believe they are being harmed or harassed, or that a celebrity is in love with them.  They might even believe they have superior abilities, wealth, or fame. Additionally, we have disorganized speech (incoherence), abnormal motor behavior (catatonia) and negative symptoms (similar to depressive symptoms) that also fall under this category. Also, none of these symptoms and behaviors are induced by a substance or medical condition; it is all happening in the individual’s perceptions.

 

What is Schizophrenia?

Everything I have covered, is in reference to very extreme or severe measures. If you feel like any of this information applies to you, reach out to your therapist. We can have an open conversation about the symptoms and if they are an area of concern or valid/caused by your current diagnosis. Now that you have this foundation, you’re probably wondering…what is schizophrenia then? This is a diagnosis that is given to an individual that experiences at least two of the five behaviors (delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, abnormal motor behavior, and negative symptoms) and that it is affecting at least two important areas of their life (like school and relationships). Schizophrenia is one of 10+ disorders that have psychosis as a symptom. For example, the list of schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic-based disorders and disorders that have psychotic features include:

  • Delusional Disorder
  • Brief Psychotic Disorder
  • Schizophrenia Disorder
  • Schizophreniform Disorder
  • Schizoaffective Disorder
  • Substance/Medication Induced Psychotic Disorder
  • Psychotic Disorder due to Medical Condition
  • Catatonia Associated with another Mental Disorder
  • Other specified Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder
  • Unspecified Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder

 

Treating Psychosis and Schizophrenia

Okay, you’re probably thinking…this is deep stuff but how do we help someone struggling with this? With unconditional positive regard, patience, and medication management. Also, with psychoeducation, therapeutic services, group counseling, and even hospitalization. (This isonly in order to ensure the safety of the individual and others). We as therapists, case managers, clinical directors, family, and friends are there for those that are struggling with this complex disorder. Psychologists still research this diagnosis so that one day we can provide more support necessary to stabilizing or helping those struggling to manage these psychotic-based symptoms and disorders.

Weekly Theme: Depression and Negative Belief Systems

Weekly Theme: Depression and Negative Belief Systems

Depression

A New Way of Thinking

For some, “depression” is a scary word that carries a connotation of weakness and shame. For others, it’s a warm blanket to withdraw into over and over again despite knowing the suffocating ramifications. We may be fearful of it, comfortable with it, or just sick of it. Whatever the case, depression on some level is probably part of the reason that brought us to Barn Life. Though some may argue with this, depression is not simply biological or inherent. Your life experiences molded you and created it as a reaction. Of course, some therapists and psychiatrists may have made you feel you are helpless to the monster “Depression,” and that you must live with it.

 

Years of Internalized Low Self-Worth

It would be easier to tell you to rely on medication*. Or to just accept this is who you are and you’ll have a lifelong struggle. However, that’s simply not based in truth and does you a great disservice. Depression is years of internalized low self-worth. The degree to which someone is conscious of their self-worth varies. Some of us are extremely aware of the hateful thoughts that run through our minds toward ourselves and others. On the other hand, some of us have fallen into disconnected behavioral patterns that numb and keep it out of awareness. We don’t engage in self-endangering or self-imploding behaviors when we are truly connected to our value. We feel proud of who we are, living out our life with meaning.

 

Reshaping Negative Belief Systems

What drives those behaviors? Belief systems. Negative belief systems are ingrained in us from external forces – caregivers, upbringing, other people’s thoughts, failures, traumatic events, and so forth. Beliefs like “I will never be loved, I am stupid, I am never good enough, I will never amount to anything”. Reshaping these beliefs into adaptive truths such as, “I am enough,” “my life has purpose,” “I deserve happiness,” “I deserve to love and be loved,” are much more difficult. They require us to work from the INSIDE OUT. We will not change these beliefs simply by engaging in behavioral changes or hearing from others you’re worthy and lovable. We need to spend intimate time with ourselves adapting our thoughts. Furthermore, we need to decide who we want to be in alignment with our values. This takes great intention and putting away distractions including seeking validation from others.

 

How We Choose to Engage with Life

Depression may a part of a bipolar diagnosis or the aftermath of our mania. If so, reflect on what the words are that swirl in your mind during those low periods. Is it telling yourself you’re shameful for your actions? Is it feeling like a lost cause, feeling like you can’t ever do things right or that you’re doing enough? What thoughts fuel the desire to shrink from the world? Remember that our choices send strong messages to ourselves and others. Every day we have an opportunity to change how we internally speak to ourselves, how we treat ourselves and our bodies, how we treat others.

Remember that depressive symptoms result from beliefs, choices, and behaviors – overall how you live and interact with your life. You cannot control life’s circumstances. There will be depressing events and relationships in your life. How you choose to engage with them will make a difference.

*Please note Barn Life honors client choice in seeking medication for intervention and does not devalue the effectiveness of this for some clients (in conjuction with therapy).

Weekly Theme: Transformation

Weekly Theme: Transformation

Transformation

Manifesting Real Transformation

Have you ever thought, I would like to be a little less crazy? Or, I would like to be a little more tolerant of ignorance, or I would like to stop drinking so much. Or, I would like to begin learning Aikido. Get into better physical and spiritual shape. Or, I wish I could make better choices so I could live a life I love instead of this inherited life that has me at the end of my rope. Why is it so damn hard to make these desires a reality? What is stopping us?

The desire to improve one’s future seems a common drive for most people. Removing shortcomings and replacing them with our visions for a better future and a better self. To become something. Something more! Yet, despite these desires, here we sit, the same as always. We may think, all I have is this broken-down body and a mind that is as stubborn as a bull. How can I manifest real transformation when I have no money for Aikido classes or even a gym membership? Or maybe we are “genetically predispositioned” to drink and eat too much. Or maybe we were just born crazy as hell and no matter what we do, the same bat shit crazy nonsense happens to us. Maybe I was abused and neglected and do not know how to form close bonds with others. How do I change that? How does one transform oneself into something else?

 

Starting at the Beginning

Lean in close. It begins with thoughts. Yes, that is correct. Thoughts are where this all begins. They cost nothing.  They are yours for the taking. They require little training and they are highly suggestible. Thoughts shape everything around you and give form to ideas. Put simply, thoughts make stuff real. But how? Recent scientific study into the human genome in the past 20 years has revealed something astonishing. We can alter our genes with our minds. Did you hear what you just read? We can alter our genes with our minds!

Ok, so what are genes again? Genes are the blueprints you inherited from your parents. And up until recently, conventional wisdom and science suggested that you are stuck with whatever you get. Like a bad hand in poker.  However, this is incorrect. Even if you are “genetically predispositioned” for this and that, you can change all that by thinking. Not only that, but you can change it remarkably fast. Our minds and how we direct our minds can unlock genetic sequences we cannot even comprehend, yet.

 

Altering Genes Through Our Thoughts and Environment

Research has proven the placebo effect. People with cancer or other afflictions think they received a cure even though in truth they have not. However, because of their strong conviction and belief, they cure themselves. People who walk on fire and do not burn. Those who lift up cars to save small children trapped underneath. People who handle poisonous snakes and get bit yet do not die. These are astonishing examples of mind over matter.

Epigenetics is one way to view this process of transformation. This is a new form of genetics where we focus on altering genes through our thoughts and environment. Instead of messing with the sequence of genes, we instead work with what we have. Genes determine so much. But those genes only know what to do because you direct them. When you decide you are worthless and do not deserve happiness, some genes turn on and some genes turn off. As a result, all the proteins and building blocks for worthlessness and depression are produced. If you believe you are fat and will always be fat, certain genes are alerted and make that reality so. If you believe you are mentally ill then genes begin the work of making that a reality for you.

 

Shaping Our Destinies

However, it works to your advantage as well. Using nothing more than thoughts, you can tell your genes exactly what you want. And they will respond as if you were ordering food from a menu. We are not victims of the past or some genetic garbage we got from someone else. Rather, we are great creators and mighty shapers of destiny. We conjure our lives from thought and our genetics respond making all that we think…a reality.

Transformation is a process of changing something. This week let’s identify what we want to change about ourselves. One or two things. Start small. By week’s end, we will see how much we have altered our genetic code. The proof will be in the quality of the reality we make for ourselves.

Weekly Theme: Poseidon

Weekly Theme: Poseidon

Poseidon statue

The Unpredictable Waters Within

In my years as a clinical therapist and program director, I have encountered many Poseidon problems. Clients express that they feel over-possessed by the unpredictable waters within them, overcome by the surfacing and powerful waves of buried emotions. Why is my anger not going away and why do I sabotage my relationships? Why don’t I feel like I am ever enough? When questions like these arise, we can look to the archetypal figure of Poseidon for further understanding.

More than any other Greek deity, Poseidon shows us the extreme implications of vengeance and emotional intensities. On the one hand, we see a figure who carries our ships across the seas to our destinations. This is to suggest that our emotions are the ebbing, flowing waters that carry our dreams and goals. However, on the other hand, sometimes our emotions get the best of us. The shifting movement of our oceans can possess us for years or even lifetimes. A Poseidon problem resembles temperamental kingship.

 

Interaction with Other Elements

Poseidon, like the sea itself, ever moves in interaction with the other element. Waters can be stirred, lifted, powerful and unpredictable. As ruler of the seas, Poseidon commands the deep and wide range of our emotional waters. A Poseidon man or Poseidon father can be relentlessly powerful in stormy emotions. At other times he is tranquil, softening edges of hard and rigid surfaces, lapping, soothing, rocking gently those that he loves in his massive embrace.

For example, when our efforts are reliant upon the Poseidon figure, we allow emotions to rule motivations. Of course, this can be quite meaningful. A Poseidon father likely shows great empathy for his children. There is a tremendous amount of passion and squishy moments to be had by watery feelings. But when the king is ruled by the seas of his emotions, his wrath and many unsustainable goals are sentenced to the bottoms of the ocean only to hurl themselves upon the shores soaking the dry land we stand upon.

 

Our Own Relationship with Emotion

A Poseidon character is the kingly character of the reactive psyche. He is not the rightful ruler of our inner world because he lacks the vantage point of Olympus. Where Zeus may have seen from above with clarity, Poseidon gets salt in his eyes. In fact, Poseidon loses and is humiliated in many instances before Zeus and the other gods. His power cannot win out for the throne. When emotions lead one, there are foreseeable problems. We cannot expect a healthy treatment program if it is so. At least not if we want healthy outcomes for our psychological and spiritual health.

For us today we can look to his nature as a kind of barometer of our own masculine relationship with emotion itself. For example, we may be out of touch with the Poseidon role. That is, we do not rule over emotions with some masculine energy. If so, we may deal with the natural occurrences of water damage. Should we fail to tame or address our waters, perhaps the solid ground in our lives will wash away. We may fail to recognize the Poseidon energy when it swells and thrashes against our boats and shores. It is our destiny, then, to play out his mythology in our lifetime. The trick is to see his role and work with awareness of the seas for to be the sea is to suffer greatly.