Emotion Myths

Here are some emotion myths from DBT:
1. Letting others know I’m feeling bad is a weakness. Challenge: Letting others know I’m feeling bad is a healthy form of communication.
2. Negative feelings are bad and destructive. Challenge: Negative feelings are natural responses. They help me to create a better understanding of the situation.
3. Some emotions are stupid. Challenge: Every emotion indicates how I am feeling in a situation. All emotions are useful to help me better understand what I am experiencing.
4. Extreme emotions get you a lot farther than regulating emotions. Challenge: Extreme emotions can often cause trouble for me and for other people. If an emotion is not effective, emotion regulation is a good idea.
5. It is inauthentic to try to change my emotions. Challenge: Change is itself authentic. It’s part of life.
6. My emotions are who I am. Challenge: Emotions are partly but not completely who I am.

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I like these challenges to the myths. I think they illustrate how to look at an emotion and determine if it is working for or against you.

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When we are stuck in emotion it’s good to analyze what the emotion is doing for (to) us. An emotion may create urges such as withdrawing from people when we’re grieving or arguing with someone when we’re feeling irritated. When an emotion causes us to take action that makes the situation worse is the best time to analyze and understand the emotion.

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It is through doing this that I was able to see my grief as a normal passage in life. A person has to grieve and although grief takes different forms in different people, it is still the path that I am on. I used to judge my grief, but like the myths above I found that I needed to challenge that thought.

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Others didn’t think less of me for grieving, but I felt like they wanted me to be done with it earlier than I was ready. That got me to start judging myself in the same manner. What was my sadness doing to me? It was making me withdraw from others, embarrassed that I was still so sad after the loss of my child. What was my sadness doing for me? Healing me. Grief is a natural progression and as long as I was progressing, it seemed that I could get a grip on my own timetable and continue healing.

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Do you tend to judge yourself because of how you are feeling? Or act out without positive intention making things worse? The DBT process of figuring out your emotions is a little like self-analysis. What is this emotion and what is it motivating me to do? In my case withdrawing from people.

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What is my emotion communicating to others? That I don’t care about them or that I need tender loving care. Since these two things are opposite, I may need to clarify what I am communicating with my emotion. “I care about you, but I don’t want to be around people right now.” Or “Yes, I’ll come over because I need to be with people but just please have patience with me.”

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What was my emotion saying to me? I am so sad. I am alone. No one understands. But when I check the facts, and when I reached out, I found that people do care, they just sometimes don’t know how to act around me.

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These questions can be valuable when trying to change or regulate your emotions. Good communication is key if you want or expect something from others. We all just want to be understood. When we’re able to observe and describe our emotions we can better determine what we want to communicate to others. We can also see better how acting on impulse may not be the best idea.

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When we are emotional our face and bodies show others something. Is it what you want them to know, or is your body saying something different? You can make that determination and express in words and action what you wish to convey.

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Think about the myths and understand that emotions are not bad. They provide a function to alert us to what’s happening. The more we increase our communication, identify our feelings and choose to act or not act effectively, the more level we will feel.

Reactivating my Life

Ever since I can remember I have been anxious. I remember being a little girl and making my sisters walk up flights of stairs at my dad’s office because I didn’t want to get in the elevator. I was fearful. In schools I would become frightened about a subject and have my mother come and pick me up.

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These days my anxiety manifests itself in a different way. I am fidgety, constantly moving my feet and hands. I’m anxious about those blocks of time when I am nothing to do, worrying that the depression will sink in. Almost every day I have little interest in life and this has gone on for weeks. That’s depression.

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It’s trying to fend off the depression that causes the most anxiety, I’ve lost a lot of weight (not so sad about that!) and I feel worthless. I know that my major depressive disorder began with the loss of my son, but as I stated earlier, I’ve always had some form of it especially the anxiety. The grief just compounded, and I began to feel overwhelmed with no ability to ease it. I began to withdraw from being with others. “They don’t understand my grief anyway,” I told myself.

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So I am working on “reactivating my life” through a self-help workbook and the help of my doctors.

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I read that depressed people suffer from anhedonia, which means that activities that used to be fun are no longer fun. In this instance practice at doing fun things can bring back enjoyment of them, so part of my self-care therapy is to write down activities that I like to do and find ways to increase them in my life. I have made a list: Organizing things in the house, writing, baking. According to theSCDPAntidepressantSkills I’m doing, this will remind me of things that are of interest to me as well as provide rewards as my depression starts to lift.

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I have made an agreement with myself about self-care: showering, shampooing my hair, putting on make-up, getting enough sleep, and taking my medication. Helping others by volunteering and taking the dogs for walks (they enjoy it more than I do!) This is meant to remind myself that I am competent, and it directly enhances my sense of physical well-being.

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Because depressed people have the tendency to procrastinate more than others, I have started to engage more in activities that help out the household: Doing laundry more often, sweeping and mopping more often, running errands. By doing this I increase my sense of control and reduce tension with others.

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Involvement with family and friends will give me a sense of connection, a chance to provide support to others and it will take me away from being alone with my depressive thoughts. So, I will start answering my phone and go to meetings with my husband. My self -imposed isolation is affecting my mood.

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This is a lot to do in one fail swoop, so I will choose a couple activities to focus on and complete them. And when I get the urge to do one of these activities I will take the opportunity to do it and not deliberate over it, anguish over it.

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It’s a process, to deal with depression. I wish I could follow others’ advice and just get over it. (That is usually said by people who don’t understand depression.) It’s a process I choose to follow with God by my side. God knows me. I can look to Him and thank Him for the transformation He is making in me. Even the small victories are shared with God. The fact that I am writing is a victory. Each small step is to be celebrated with God.

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“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

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Little by little I’m cleaning out those stones in my heart as I reactivate my life

Depression

As a Hospice volunteer I visit a little old lady in a nursing home. One day I visited she was fast asleep. I took her hand because I didn’t want her to miss my visit, but she didn’t wake up. She was so peaceful there, lying with her little mouth wide open.

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We had agreed during my last visit that I would read the Bible to her, so I prayed and then just softly began to read Matthew for 45 minutes, all the while she lay sound asleep. I don’t know if she heard me or not, but the words calmed my soul in the process.

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It’s hard for me to make these visits, but I know it’s what God wants me to do. He wants me to bring joy into someone else’s life while I can sometimes find no joy in my own. The depression keeps me home, bored out of my mind, but it’s so hard to get up and go somewhere. I have to pray every day that God gets me out of the house, and with Hospice, I know they depend on me and that makes it easier to go.

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As I was talking with the staff after my visit, another little lady told me how pretty I was. That was so sweet it melted my heart.

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My own mother benefitted from Hospice and I feel like this is my way of giving back, just a little, for the good works they did with her and for my family after she passed. Giving back can also increase positive experiences in my life. DBT tells us to look at the short term by doing things we enjoy. We are to increase positive experiences by making changes in our lives so that positive experiences can occur more often.

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You’d think having a life of positive experiences would be a dream come true, but when you have depression, everything, even positive things, can be an effort. Some people might think that since I don’t work, my life must be filled with the things I want to do instead of things I have to do.

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What I read about depression is that it leads to inactivity and inactivity makes depression worse. This is why I make myself do things. If I don’t make myself, then I won’t get better, It’s a vicious cycle. Depression breeds inactivity and inactivity feeds depression. I am told not to wait until I feel motivated to do things, action is the key. By being active I will begin to feel motivated.

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Believe it or not, even watching TV can take effort. But I make myself get into a new series, so I will be motivated to watch more. And I know that by volunteering I am helping someone else too. I know I have to shower so I make myself do it. Isn’t is scary how depression could make it seem impossible to even take a shower- let alone put on makeup and do your hair?

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It’s a daily battle for me. I have to plan something to do and then I have to do it. Sometimes I have to just put one foot in front of the other. Even going to church is planned and sometimes I go-sometimes I don’t. My therapist tells me to schedule things. So I schedule that I’ll make pork chops tonight. I tell my husband I will and then I’m committed. So I do it.

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It seems so simple- but its hard. I pray every night that I will do something of meaning the next day. God answers me with something. Sometimes its just writing this book. Sometimes it’s going out to see my little lady. Jesus is with me on this path.

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I downloaded a workbook: SCDPAntidepressantSkills and I am working on the chapter called “Reactivating your Life.” It’s a self-care depression program that I hope will give me more skills in my toolbox. Right now, I am working on small steps toward the goal of reactivating my life. I know I just need to take that first step every day.

Sorrow

Jesus knows how I feel. Psalm 62:8 tells me to pour out my heart to God, He is my refuge. There are some bad days- and there are some good days. But if I learn to pour my heart out to Him regardless of it being a bad day or a good day, He gets to see me. The Real Me. The Me I don’t want anyone else to see, and the Me who bestows thankfulness to Him for the good days.

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“Everything happens for a reason,” is something I say to myself as a buffer, but even now, I do not know the reason that my son died so young. I feel like even to say that “everything happens for a reason” puts a callous tone to my grief. It’s like saying, “Oh well, it was meant to be!” My Wise Mind who, I often personify as Jesus, tells me it was meant to be. Do any of us know the exact moment that God will call us home to him?

Won’t there always be things left to finish since we might be caught off guard by death?
I judge myself for looking at what happened to me when he died, rather than looking at what happened to him when he died. Tyler is in Heaven because God wanted him to be, at the exact time that he went. But I am stuck in a place where I am looking at the effects of his death, the depression, the sorrow and the general falling apart of my life. And the chance to speak to him one more time is gone.

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This is my “Me, Me, Me” mode and it is selfish. I want to trust God. I want to get all of my emotions out through prayer with Him. I know He shares my pain and I do feel this burden getting lighter as I continue to trust in Him.

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I cannot possibly know why my son died- I will never know the reason, but I think it has more to do with him and his time to go home to the Lord, than it has to do with me and my suffering. I should be happy for him, because he is with Jesus.

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I am going to focus on acceptance and trust in God. I am going to stop being willful by focusing on why Tyler died and start being willing to accept this great gift I have received of a closeness to God that was a result of it.

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“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8

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I collaborate with Jesus in my radical acceptance of my son’s death. He tells me truths through His word. I believe Him. In my collaboration, we walk this path together. I am not alone. He feels my sorrow and He knows my innermost thoughts.

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I know that if I collaborate with Jesus during my worries and sadness, He will not only give me respite, but He will also give me strength. And instead of worrying, I will begin to feel the excitement of what God has in store for me today and every day.

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“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.” John 14:3

Walk on the Water

When emotions are turbulent and fit the facts, DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) says to use Problem Solving. We Christians know that Jesus is our Problem Solver.

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I think about the verses in the Bible in which Jesus walks on the water and calms the sea as the Disciples are wracked with waves that threaten to capsize their boat. Sometimes my emotions feel like those choppy waves. They threaten to freeze me, I want to go back to bed and put the covers over my head to ward them off.

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Just like in the story, Jesus can step out and turn my emotions to smooth glass if I choose to ignore the urge to go back to bed and instead focus on Him, the Problem Solver.

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Have you ever felt like your emotions are engulfing you? You can’t find a way to calm them and they crash against you in waves of despair or fear or anger. Your action urge is to lash out and make the waves even bigger, or ignore the problem and sit in the boat hoping it won’t do you in. You can’t stop it- your bad feelings are overtaking your ability to think of anything else.

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DBT has a flowchart- a step-by-step for what to do I this situation, ultimately ending in either problem solving to put it to rest, solved, or opposite action, doing something the opposite of what you feel. (PDF) DBT Problem solving

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I wrote my own step-by-step using the story in Matthew 14 about Jesus walking on water to calm the sea.
1.) Think about the event that is causing your problem
2.) Bring it to Jesus
3.) Allow Him to step out on your emotional wave, to calm it as smooth as glass.
4.) Listen to the calm and wait for the voice of God (Wise Mind).
5.) During this calm, pour out your heart to Jesus.
6.) Take His hand and step out onto the calm.
7.) Do not falter as Peter did. Do not give into the emotion and cause the waves to speed up again.
8.) Stand firm and think of ways to solve your problem with Jesus.
9.) If the answer doesn’t come to you, because God has His own time, consider doing something opposite of the way you feel in order to ease your suffering.

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22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33

Choosing our Reactions

If the event had never happened I wouldn’t be feeling this way. True. It is our reaction to events that makes us feel stress, uncomfortable. Our lives sometimes can feel like we’re dodging things. “I don’t want to do that because it makes me feel this way.”

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With God, we can bring any event. Any emotion or feeling, and pain to Him and He will comfort us. As you react to something and it creates unwanted feelings or stress, bring it to God. Ask Him to let it pass through you instead of lingering.

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This is Radical Acceptance. I acknowledge that his event happened but, with God, I can choose how to react to it. In DBT, (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) the trick is to identify the event that made you feel a certain way. It’s called the “Prompting Event.” How does that prompting event make you feel? Worried, scared? You choose.

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When Tyler died, as you might believe, I had trouble accepting the reality of it. He is my child, born from me, and now he is gone from this world. You have read my struggles with this. Hopefully you have seen me grow with God through this.

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I read in Jesus Lives an entry in which Sarah Young paraphrases Jesus as saying, “Pick up the pieces of your broken heart- scattered all around you- and bring them to me.” She goes on to say, “Sit still in my Holy Light while I cleanse you from binding webs of discouragement.”

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I like that. What a picture of Jesus cleansing off my webs on a sheet of linen. “Though your disappointment is real, my Presence with you is even more real.” I know my emotions move like a wave through me. I am not always sad, missing Tyler. I can choose another emotion- gratefulness, praise, because he is in Jesus’ arms right now. I can pick up all those sadness feelings and bring them to Jesus.

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The verse that is associated with this reading is this:

“The Spirit of the Lord…has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Isaiah 61:1

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Radical Acceptance is admitting that what happened, happened, accepting it with your heart, mind and body. It is accepting that life is worth living even if there is pain in it, but rejecting reality turns pain into suffering. We begin to go to the what if’s and should have’s when we reject reality, and that’s when the suffering comes in. We prolong the pain.

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I think that scene of Jesus cleansing me would be a great mindfulness exercise when I’m feeling sad. As I am cleansed of my grief I can come out of mindfulness knowing that God will never leave me, that He is working to mend my broken heart. I can come out of it refreshed and that is a change of emotion.

Be a Word

I don’t like how I’m feeling right now. Sometimes our emotions can be ugly. When we are tuned in to our emotions, we feel them more deeply. Depression becomes sadness, despair, or grief. Anger becomes aggravation or agitation. Fear becomes anxiety, nervousness, or jumpiness.

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DBT teaches us to name the emotion in order to better understand what is prompting it. Sometimes it may be as simple as saying that you are depressed because you have a condition called depression. But does that mean you can’t do anything about it?
And there are biological changes that take place in our bodies when we are feeling a certain emotion. Think of the big smile and light heartedness you feel when you are happy. And the tears and shakiness when you are sad.

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Personally, I feel agitated a lot. I know this is a symptom of my depression. I may have to go somewhere I don’t want to go, which makes me nervous and jittery. I don’t like waiting around to do it- I want to get going and get it over with. The emotion I feel is fear, namely anxiety. The biological changes due to this fear are stomach cramping, restless legs and wanting to avoid the thing I have to do.

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We express our emotions in many ways. I may be short with others, and I try to talk myself out of going where I’m supposed to go. I run through all of the excuses I could tell someone and usually discount each one of them and end up going anyway. (Yay for me!)
DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) has a module to help regulate your emotions, which I call “Emotion Leveling.” In DBT there are skills that teach you that you can change your emotional responses by verifying that the emotion fits the facts of the situation, doing an action that is opposite to the action you are taking in your emotion mind and using problem solving skills.

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In some cases, with me, my emotion of fear does not fit the facts because wherever I am going is usually not a scary place. That’s why I like to use the opposite action. My therapist would say “do it even if you don’t want to,” which is easier said than done!
I have employed a technique that I use called “Be A Word.” I start by naming my emotions, and then I look at what the opposite emotion would be named. The opposite of sadness might be happiness.

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I like to use terms from the Bible, things Jesus tells us to be: gentle, confident, loving, forgiving, childlike. I choose a word that is opposite to my feeling such as “Loving” when I don’t want to go to a commitment. Being loving means that I don’t run out on my promises, it means I do what I say I’ll do and be present for others while I’m doing it. I choose that word and remind myself to be that word. When I feel agitated I name it and then remind myself that my word is “loving” and I try to be that word. The word you use doesn’t have to be the exact opposite of the emotion you’re feeling, it just has to be different- a word you aspire to be. I can’t be really loving if I am agitated.

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God tells us how He wants us to act. The Bible is filled with clues about how we relate to others and to Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you think God’s thoughts to be like Jesus. I have a book of promises (Bible Promises for Life for Women) that I like to use to help me think of how Jesus wants me to be. In it I have found things like this that are based on God’s Word:

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Anger to Gentle: “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverbs 15:1
Depression to Thankfulness or Laughter: “Thanksgiving will pour out of the windows, laughter will spill through the doors. Things will get better and better. Depression days are over.” Jeremiah 30:19
Fear to Trust: “With God on my side, I will not be afraid of what comes. My heart overflows with praise to God and for His promises. I will always trust in Him.” Psalm 56:11
Fear to Strong: “Be strong! Do not fear.” Isaiah 35:4
Shame to Radiant: “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” Psalm 34:5
Grief to Comfort or Blessed: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” Matthew 5:4

You get the picture. Don’t be a slave to your unwanted emotions. Become another word.  Then remind yourself throughout the day that you are that word.

Apologies

A mother doesn’t expect to be standing over her child’s dead body. When I was standing next to Tyler I was stunned, inconsolable. There was no sign of the gash in his head that must have been there as he hit it when thrown from his car. He looked perfect. Just like himself.

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I didn’t want to leave him. I sat there on a chair next to him and all I could say was “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” I said it over and over. I should not have left him to move to Ohio. I should have called every week like my own mother called me. How could I have let our relationship lapse?

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I refused to leave, with my grandchildren and daughters waiting for me beyond the curtain, checking on me from time to time. I declared that I would stay until they took him away.

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He wasn’t there, I finally realized. At first I thought maybe he was lingering there above me and that lifeless body. I thought he could hear me. That he had stayed to see his mother. Then it hit me. He’s gone. So, I was able to leave him then.

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I wanted to say something at the funeral. Tyler wasn’t there, his body had been cremated. I was a wreck, so I’m glad the opportunity didn’t arise for me to speak- kind of. I’m not sure I could have gotten through a speech of any kind. I had stood in the reception line with tears streaming down my cheeks.

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I still wish I would have had the courage to talk about him when he was a child- all of the funny things he did and said. I wish I would have brought more pictures and memorabilia, but I gathered those things in a rush, anxious to get to Minnesota to see him.

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DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) has a module on Interpersonal Effectiveness” which includes apologizing when it is needed. How do have an interpersonal relationship when someone is no longer there?

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Oh, I’m sure that Tyler would have been apologizing and loving me if he knew that the last time we saw each other would have been the last time. Relationships go both ways. He once wrote me a letter apologizing for his teenaged behavior.

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So, I started writing letters to him, on a broad range of topics. When I re-read these letters I can see how much pain had control of me. But I also see how I’ve grown, how I’ve inched my way toward acceptance and self forgiveness.

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In one letter I spoke of having a need to go to a big Catholic church and sit. I am not Catholic, but something about the beauty of a Catholic church appealed to my need to connect.  I went to an old church in a nearby town, but it was closed. A man outside happened to give me directions to the new church that was replacing this one, so I got in my car and drove to it.

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How to explain the experience? I sat in a pew of this brand new church right at the feet of this enormous statue of Christ on the cross. I could hear workers in some other area, still putting the new church together. I didn’t want someone to approach me. I had fear that one of the workers would ask me what I was doing there. But they didn’t. This made me think of the fear I had about my coworkers anxiously hoping I would move on and “get back to my old self”. But as I sat there with no one approaching I realized my fear was unnecessary- there was no current threat to me because my coworkers were on the periphery but not currently in my life due to my being on disability. I did not have to be around them right now. I did my best to relax.

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In my letter to Tyler, I described how sitting in that church I felt that the crucified Jesus was a conduit to heaven. I know it sounds strange, but I felt like I was open to Heaven. It was then that I knew that I didn’t need a Medium to help me communicate with Tyler. Jesus was my conduit. I asked Jesus to wash me- to detox me.

“Have faith in Him in all circumstances dear people.  Open up your heart to Him:  The true God shelters us in His arms.”  Psalm 62:8

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It was then that some clarifying thoughts came to me. I was here at this church because God asked me to be here, so He could show me to always trust in Him and not mankind. He would get me through this.

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I knew that I was afraid of everyone on the fringes of my life judging me- but there was no need to worry about it when I wasn’t even working now.

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And I came to the realization that everything happens for a reason and I wasn’t meant to know Tyler in his adult years, but I was to cherish the closeness we had when he was a child. And because of our differences in philosophy of life, it wasn’t just me holding back from a relationship, but it was Tyler too, as he didn’t want to be judged by me.
Lastly, I understood that Tyler was in Heaven. That he sat at His feet just like I was doing now at the foot of this beautiful replica of Him on the cross. I have my direct conduit to Jesus and He is there with his hand in mine every moment of everyday.

“… You found renewal of your strength, and so you did not faint.”
Isaiah 57:10

My therapist tells me to keep writing those letters, that it will get easier. I guess it’s kind of like getting out of the way of own emotions toward being able to effectively accept what is and what was.

Be with People

The Bible encourages us to be with others and science backs that up as it is generally known that people who fell cared for and loved are healthier and happier. And we all know how isolation is a lonely place.

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While I don’t do as much as I did before Tyler died, I’m trying to make an effort to get out of the house. As much as I hate doing it, human contact always lifts my mood. I want to be able to help other people as well, so maybe some days I lift someone else’s mood just by being with them.

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When I stay at home by myself, I find my depression is worse. And it’s a catch-22 because I don’t want to do anything, yet I can’t stand living in my own head all the time! On one hand I don’t have the energy to go anywhere or do anything yet on the other hand I am bored with myself!

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My therapist prescribes “Opposite Action.” She tells me that the times I don’t want to do something is the time to do it! Opposite Action is a coping skill in DBT’s (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) Emotion Regulation module, but it has a lot to do with our ability to interact socially. There are many different reasons for not wanting to do something, but if you look at why, you would probably find a specific emotion behind your lethargy.
I am usually pretty happy to do things with my husband, but of course he works full-time which leaves me by myself for several hours a week. My husband and I plan things to do on weekends and sometimes week nights. I feel comfortable with him, with his support and strength. On my own I feel disconnected.

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To do Opposite Action I first took a hard look at why I don’t want to go anywhere and came up with depression, of course, but DBT says to name the emotion. Is depression an emotion? It’s definitely a mental illness, but what is the emotion that is holding me back? What do I feel? Insecurity without my husband to lean on. Disappointment in myself for being so weak. Hopelessness that I won’t ever be able to have a job again because I can’t go to it.

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These are sadness words. So I guess my overall emotion is sadness. DBT then tells us to “Check the Facts” by asking ourselves whether an emotion intensity and duration fits. Yes, in the context of my son’s death I am sad, but in the context of going to a meeting or church, sadness is not the culprit- it’s fear of being stuck somewhere that I don’t want to be.

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This fear creates the “Action Urge” of my wanting to hang around the house instead of going out somewhere. My urge is to wander around the house and yard aimlessly waiting for something to peak my interest that I might like to do. The urge is to stay in depression rather than get up and do something.

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The next step is to ask Wise Mind (God) whether acting on this urge is effective or not. I know it’s not! Inactivity is a depression maintaining behavior so of course it’s not effective! I know that God doesn’t want me to be depressed and do nothing. His word calls for me to be with others- in community. To focus less on myself and more on helping someone else.

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This is where I pray. I pray to have the Lord show me what I can do to help someone else. I pray for god to give me the courage to step out and commune with others- to put someone in my path that needs me. Maybe it’s a clerk at a store that needs a bright smile and kindness or maybe God will match my steps with someone I know who invites me to do something or asks for my help.

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It is up to me to identify what the opposite action will be. I don’t want to leave the house, so I might go for a walk around the neighborhood. I don’t want to go volunteering but I go anyway. And when I do this opposite action, DBT tells me to do it “all the way” fully participating, and to keep doing it until my action urge goes away.

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Often times I feel better after I have done something. The meeting wasn’t so bad and I enjoyed being with people. The walk was beautiful and the wieners found all kinds of fun stuff in the park. The clerk at the store was thoughtful and pleasant.

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My relationship with others has improved since stepping out a bit, but I have a long way to go with it. I can do this with God’s help and my supportive family!

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5

Storing up Positive Emotions and Experiences

“She needs a lot of hand-holding.” We’ve all heard that phrase and probably regard it as a negative. It’s someone who is needy and can’t do things on her own. But is it really negative? Who hasn’t needed a hand to get something done? And the positive is that in the Gospel of John, The Lord tells us that He will never let go of our hand. God wants us to be needy- but not needy for people to hold our hand- needy for His Hand.

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Build this up as a positive experience with God. When He holds our hand we are blessed- and who would ever call a blessing a bad thing? Store up His blessings in your mind and call upon them when you are down. Write them down if you need to. Keep a list of gratitude’s- anything that works as a tool to remind yourself of the good things.

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That’s what storing up positive experiences is all about. They can be used to make your mind move on from a bout of sadness or to become one of your coping strategies when you are burdened with problems.

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When my girls were little they used to color little posters for their sisters. They would start by asking, “What’s your favorite color?” Then in the middle of the page they would draw the name of the sister and using the favorite color palette they would write and draw and use stickers to represent all of the things that sister liked to do “Loves dogs” “Loves to read”, along with positive attributes about them like “Funny” “Pretty” and favorite food “Ice Cream” “Broccoli” (ha ha) etc. The recipient would then hang that poster in a wall of their room. They were so cute!

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In my journal I made one of these for my son after he passed. I wanted to remember everything about him. I colored his name in the middle and surrounded it with his hobbies, things he was good at like fishing and car mechanics, and what he was like- “Awesome Dad.” It wasn’t so artistic- that’s not one of my gifts, but I liked it, and that’s what counts!

Tyler positive poster
What if God made a poster for you? It might say things like “Redeemed”, “God’s child”, “Loves Jesus”, “Like an Eagle!” Try it. Make your own replica of a colored page of what you believe God thinks of you- keep it completely positive. Hang it up in your bedroom or office or just keep it secret in your journal. You can always go back and look at it when you need to give yourself a lift- Even if it’s just to laugh at your drawings!  This is mine!

What God says about me (2)

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If you’re having trouble thinking of good things about yourself, meditate on it- read the Bible about what God says about His children and allow Wise Mind (God) to show you how much He loves you!

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
1 Corinthians 6:19