Tag Archives: Therapy

Assault of the Mind

Today was another day of waking up to a roll call of my failures and shortcomings.  All before I even opened my eyes.

Sometimes, I stay paralyzed in this state for a good 15 min. while I get the shit beaten out of me.

At some point, another dude shows up and says, “C’mon now, it’s not that bad.  I love you & we’re gonna be ok.”  I have to hear this repeated over and over in order to release the physical paralysis and get up.

Tired Before I Get the Day Started

Do I have to get out of bed?
Do I have to get out of bed?

Needless to say, this is an extremely exhausting way to begin my day. Often it will take me until afternoon to start feeling ok.  It makes it hard for me to focus on the things I set out to accomplish.  Often, I’m too exhausted to do much else after just managing these assaults all day long.  This, of course, folds back on itself creating “proof” that the asshole in my head just might be right after all.

Of Two Minds

Wait a minute!! Who's in charge here?
Wait a minute!! Who’s in charge here?

Research shows that the conscious mind averages about 40 bits of information/secondapproximately 1-3 events at a time. The subconscious mind however takes on an average of 4 BILLION bits of information/secondso literally THOUSANDS of events at a time!!!

If these two were in a fight to get the message across the fastest, who would you put your money on to win?? If you said the subconscious, congratulations…you’re a little richer.

If you are one of the many people out there, like myself, who have jumped on the “law of attraction / affirmation” bandwagon in order to feel better about your life, you may have also noticed that it’s not quite cutting the mustard.  Why not?  Well, I’m glad you asked 🙂

First, we read all these books or watch the videos and we “think” Aha!  I’ve got the secret.  Soon, after much practice…we say something like…wait a minute, it’s not working.

That’s where the gurus typically tell us that we are not trying hard enough and we are affirming our negativity.

Try harder!!
Try harder!!

I don’t know about you, but there is nothing more I hate than someone telling me I’m failing because I’m not “trying hard enough”, especially when I”m giving everything I’ve got.

I believe that’s both unfair and unhelpful.  It gives you absolutely no insight whatsoever.  To make some headway (pun intended hehehe), first you have to understand a little bit about the purpose of the conscious and the subconscious parts of the mind.

Conscious vs. Subconscious

Conscious –  uses logic & reason, anything you CHOOSE to do, past & present, filter for your belief system (the judge/bouncer)

Subconscioususes emotions, involuntary actions, always in the present, core of your belief system and memories

Let’s use an example.  Based on my experience of being bitten by a big dog I trusted, my subconscious has stored a memory of the event and a belief that ALL big dogs are dangerous and I should stay away.  When I see a big dog my conscious mind is alerted by the subconscious that there is danger and it logically chooses to avoid contact to keep me safe from perceived danger based on my belief system.

Now, let’s imagine you try to create a conscious affirmation that “ALL big dogs are safe” because you’re tired of being scared.  Hmmm…it isn’t working.  Well that’s because your conscious mind says these words and then dutifully checks in with the subconscious belief system and learns that the subconscious says…hell no.  So basically, you can say all you want, but if the subconscious says bullshit, all bets are off.  You are still afraid of big dogs.

The Powerless Feeling of Positive Thinking

In my own life, without realizing it, I’ve habitually and chronically adopted some beliefs deep down that prevent me from achieving what I say I want out of life.  This is really demoralizing and depressing.

You start to get pissed at yourself because, you’ve tried to convince yourself to believe differently through affirmations and you’ve failed.  You start to think well maybe I really am useless, messed up, broken, etc. So now you’re basically afraid AND feel like a failure.  Cool.  So much better. Thanks.

If this sounds familiar, first of all take a deep breath.  You’re not the only one who has tried the power of positive thinking and felt at your wits end.

It is enormously helpful to understand that, you simply cannot consciously do what you subconsciously don’t believe without creating a moral dilemma.

That is the whole basis of the conflict, misery, and discontent you feel inside.

When these “two minds” are aligned we can be successful, when they are not we are in conflict with ourselves and others. PERIOD.

If you wonder why you say you want to do one thing, but seem to quit before you start, or half-way through, or lose it after you get it, this is why. It is almost impossible for us to achieve a goal if we hold subconscious beliefs that are in conflict with that goal. Your subconscious mind will find a way to sabotage you at some point in the process.

Any time the conscious is distracted or offline the subconscious takes over the reigns of control.  So, that’s why I wake up to the jackhammering sound of my subconscious every morning for a while until my super slow conscious comes back online to get me up and going like a good project manager.

Your Head is Like an 8-Track Player with One Tape to Play

Most of us have heard about the “tapes” that play in our heads.  This is another way to approach talking about the subconscious mind.  Sometimes, it is really hard to tweeze out the messages that are constantly replaying in our minds because they play so quickly.  If your’e lucky you have great positive messages playing, but for many of us, that’s not the case.  Today, I wrote mine down immediately after my conscious mind got me up.

I’m going to share them with you because, I have a feeling you might think you’re the only one this is happening to and you’re cracking up.  You’re not alone.  I can’t promise that you’re not cracking up ;p

You little worm...
You little worm…

Here are the ramblings of my subconscious (my tapes) that I hear every morning and whenever I feel insecure and my conscious can’t keep it under control.

Why don’t you just kill yourself?  You always take on more than you can handle.  You know you are going to fail, so why do you even try? Sooner or later you’re going to be homeless and living on the street.  Nobody loves you.  Nobody cares about you.  You are insignificant.  Fucking loser.  You can barely keep it together.  Why do you even bother getting up day after day? You are not good enough.  You are not smart enough.  You’re a fraud. You suck with people.  Nobody would ever want to be your friend.  Everyone see that you are a problem.  If they don’t see it yet, give it time.

Whew!! I read these aloud and began sobbing uncontrollably half-way through.  Day after day of waking up to this barrage of abuse.  Knowing it is lying just beneath the surface of my consciousness threatening to undo me with the right trigger, makes it damn hard to get much out of life.

What do your tapes play?  See if you can write it down and then read it back to yourself.  How did you feel?

Prolonged Exposure Therapy?

I recalled reading about a “prolonged exposure therapy” developed by U. Penn psychologist Edna Foa to help veterans with PTSD.  It has been enormously successful, but it works contrary to the way most of us deal with trauma (by avoiding talking about it or discouraging survivors to dwell).  Basically, this therapy encourages you to talk about it /tell your story over and over until it minimizes or eliminates the PTSD entirely.  If we don’t talk about things, they don’t magically disappear.  They fester.

Prolonged exposure therapy is now also being successfully used to help survivors of rape and sexual assault to deal with their PTSD.  It has been shown to be more effective than conventional therapy.  After exposure therapy, 83% of these girls no longer had the diagnosis of PTSD vs. 54% who received conventional supportive counselling. Even their depression and daily functioning improved significantly with exposure therapy.

It got me thinking about how the tapes we play in our heads operate in our lives in a very similar way as PTSD in that they both can take over your life and belief system to negative affect.  Ultimately, in both situations a trauma has occurred that has affected your belief system AND is making life unmanageable.

Could a version of this “prolonged exposure therapy” help us to manage our crippling fears and beliefs that negatively impact our lives so that we may move past the trauma and towards creating the life we really want to live?

Experimenting with Conscious Exposure to Subconscious Tapes

Step 1: I decided to begin by recording myself saying all the messages I hear on my tapes in the same mean way I hear them everyday.

Step 2: Then, I played the recording over and over and over while I visualized someone outside of me saying these things to me/about me.

Step 3: Each time I listened, I rated my emotional reaction on a scale of 1 (least affected) – 10 (most distressed).

Step 4: When I need a break, I either go to a safe place in my mind or I get up and go to another room to create a sort of “environmental reset”.

My theory is that I “know” somewhere deep inside that the things on these tapes are bullshit….somewhere beneath the trauma and the entrenched belief system.

I hope that by courageously facing the fear of hearing those words and feeling the feelings that go with them head on, I can get to the point that I recognize it as false, reject it as untrue, and desensitize myself to the emotional terrorism I feel day after day so I can have my whole life back again with a much better belief system.

Then maybe we can talk affirmations 😉

 

– With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

 

There are Many Ways to Kill Yourself

There are times in this life when I feel like every effort adds up to nothing. It gets so hard sometimes to think of a way out because your mind is already overburdened with everything you’re already doing to get through the day.

How do you decide what can be let go of when it seems like each pieces has been perfectly placed to keep all the other pieces from falling?

It feels like a life constructed of scrap materials you’ve collected along the way.

You keep accepting less and less of what you want, until one day you no longer know what you want, but you’re sure you don’t want the life you’ve made.

You’ve compromised so much for so long you’re not sure how to reach for more or what that “more” even is.

turning point

If someone asked you what you want, you’d probably start describing everything you don’t want because you’re not sure how to answer that question in the affirmative.

All you know is that you’re heading towards a point where you’re ready to chuck it all, one way or another!

It turns out that there are many ways to kill yourself.  I’ll give a few examples,

  1. You can compromise yourself out of existence.
  2. You can actually kill your physical self
  3. You can “kill” what you’ve become up until this point and start over brick by brick.

Personally, I’ve done #1, attempted #2, and I’m mighty curious about #3 right now.

So, in ever growing desperation for solace and solutions, I ordered Jack Canfield’s, “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You are to Where You Want to Be.”

I literally couldn’t find a bad review for this method and trust me, I searched out to 50 pages on google.  Now that either means it works if you work it or they have a really good IT team scouring and purging the web of bad reviews.

Now, I also have Louise Hay’s, “You Can Heal Your Life”, which feels more like a therapeutic compliment to Jack’s book.

I’d like to experiment with putting the two together to create a therapeutic plan of my own designed to:

“Heal My Life as I Get to Where I Want to Be” (see what I did there?  Pretty creative, eh?)

walk through a wall

I feel a lot of pressure building up inside of me and the need for a radical change to jump start my life again.

To piggyback on Bernard Malamud’s words of wisdom, I feel like I’ve got some serious walls to break through to get where I need to go.

Down the not too distant road I envision myself also doing a few other daring things far more daunting than buying books from amazon.com.

I’ve come to realize that there are a few things that are a big deal to me.

  1. Pay Off Debt Completely:  Sell my house and most of my things.
  2. Heal My Life: Use the money left over to go live somewhere dirt cheap, whether that’s in the USA or overseas doesn’t matter to me.  I need a place to work on my “therapeutic plan”.
  3. Help Others: Reach a point where I’m on the other side of it all and turn it into a How-to-Guide for others experiencing the same thing.

turn the page or close the bookIn a nutshell, that is what I want.  Pretty much nothing else feels as import as achieving these 3 goals right now.

I don’t know how long it will take, but I do know it hurts too much to keep doing what I’m doing for too much longer.  I also know that I’m at the point where I’ve finally found something to fight for and I’m willing to die trying.  And that is a feeling I haven’t had for anything in quite a long time.

In one of the beginning chapters of Jack Canfield’s book he asks us to write our purpose.  Here is mine.  This is what I live for.  This is why I want to do everything I do.  This is why I need to do what I need to do to get where I want to go.

“My purpose is to use my creativity and insight to support and inspire you to fulfill your life purpose, to reach your greatest potential and finally be at peace within yourself and with others. ” 

So, to I will leave you with this recently home-cooked meal as food for thought,

“This is my life.  It belongs to no one else.  I only have this one to live.  I can live it in any way I choose.  If I choose life, then I must make it the best one I can.  I have a responsibility to respect my own existence and do whatever it takes to bring out the best of myself and offer up my talents as gifts to this world. ”

With love from aneternaltraveler 😉