Archive | October, 2011

To think we might be overthinking….

22 Oct

Hmmm….

Now I’m thinking about how I’m a cognitive-behavioral (CBT) therapist.  😉

Sure, I utilize a multitude of theories and interventions based on my clients’ goals and what I have discerned to be the primary strengths and deficits in functioning. But I was trained in assessment of the mental and physical and how they operate in tandem to create the circumstances we  find ourselves in.  Many of those circumstances we’re uncomfortable with.  Many of those circumstances we have created ourselves, through our distorted thinking.

Perhaps I gravitated toward CBT because I was once an overthinker. No, not a critical thinker, although I could toot my own horn and call myself that as well. Now.  Then I was a ruminator. No, not digging around in the dirt with  my snout!  Okay, let’s get serious!  I would have one negative thought, and suddenly my  life was in shambles. Everything was awful. Catastrophic even! Needless to say, this approach to dealing with life (if we can even call it ‘dealing’ ) was not effective.  In fact, it was quite dysfunctional.

A perfectionist from the womb,  but of course influenced by experiences and relationships as I grew up, I struggled with significant anxiety following high school.  My black and white approach to life during my 20s  gave me a sense of control initially, but inevitably resulted in easily becoming overwhelmed and feeling caged.  I can say with utmost honesty, that I was terrible at regulating my emotions in a meaningful and helpful manner. Those of you who know me might be surprised to hear this. I’ve been told too many times to count that I’m always “the voice of reason.” Others have commented on how “level-headed” I am and …”speak with such common sense.” Years ago I could easily have been labeled nonsensical!

And that brings me to my main point. In the hustle and bustle of our lives, we forget that we have more than our minds to help us respond in ways that will effectively help us live fully. When was the last time you just invited whatever negative emotion you were experiencing to take a seat and hang out for a while? My guess is that when you get uncomfortable, you immediately try to usher the unwelcome feeling out the door. And you don’t shut the door quietly. “Good riddance!!” But it comes back. What if there was acknowledgement and acceptance–a “hmmm…this is interesting. I wonder where you came from” type response? Would it be nearly as uncomfortable?  We have our senses- touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound. We’ve become so out of touch with our bodies and their teachings….we’re stuck in our heads. And now you’re recognizing how this can sometimes be the most unrealistic place to be!

I learned through practice of mindfulness, of paying attention, of approaching my circumstances objectively, and challenging what would roll through my incessantly thoughtful brain, how to find what has always been right in front of me. We are so limited and restricted often by what we think.  We have fixed ideas and create our identities around them. Fear is bred by who and what we believe ourselves to be, not what we are actually capable of.  Consider what “the possible” is. It is what we all can do when we are not binding the goal with the ropes and chains of our internal expectations. Sure, we need to think, but we need to think in a new way. A fresh way. We need to think like we thought as children. When we had no attachments.

Victor Frankl said it best: “Between the stimulus and response, there is space, and in that space lies our power and our freedom.”

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Seeing in Sepia

12 Oct

I’ve always loved the sepia tone used frequently in photography. I know nothing of photography.  Lighting, angle, camera settings– all of this is foreign to me. But I know when I’m moved by a beautiful picture.  Sometimes the colors are muted, and there is one artifact in the photo that stands out among all the others, bright and vibrant. Like in life.

So often we are deluded in our day-to-day lives. We get caught up by a state of seduction with the past and in trying to predict the future.  This is seeing in sepia! In full color, are we not completely here, right now, captured by the very moment we are in? When we’re present we are not looking through a small lens but viewing everything in its vast expanse and context.

Seeing in sepia is not sensory. Seeing in sepia is  like trying to drive with a dirty, smoky windshield.

What would it be like for you to view your life and each moment in full color? Every taste, touch, scent, and sound resonating? Are you willing to wipe the windshield clean to experience your life as it is rather than what you feel is should be?

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