Archives for June, 2011

Emotions and Feelings

Forgiveness and Radical Acceptance

Everyone in the mental health community is applauding Marsha Lineham for her brave revelation that she, herself, used to have BPD, and that she created her Dialectical Behavior Therapy in large part as an answer to her own needs.

Radical Acceptance is an important component of DBT. It means accepting oneself and accepting all of one's emotions, even the powerful, painful, terrifying ones.

It's not the same as being helpless and resigned to one's negative feelings. Radical Acceptance says that Step One is facing emotions, experiencing them, seeing them clearly and thereby gaining perspective.
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Emotions and Feelings

Forgiveness: Try Not to Build a Neverland

Nat writes:

...if someone hurts you in a way that you would never hurt anyone else, how you do stop yourself from mentally adding 'but I would never do what they did'?

Forgiveness is a thing you do for yourself, because you ideally wish for your internal landscape to be as free and open and unencumbered as possible.

Every hurt or grudge you hold onto is like putting a wall around a patch of your own internal emotional terrain. You gain security but you sacrifice emotional acreage. You become less open, less generous, less available, less free. Your world becomes smaller.
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Emotions and Feelings

The Hard Work of Forgiveness, Step Two: Fact vs Opinion

I'm discovering that the biggest chunk of the work involved in forgiveness is that of untangling my own cognitive distortions.

I jumped to conclusions about what comments or behaviors meant....and then felt hurt.

So did _____ really hurt me? In so many instances, it was actually my own thoughts  that hurt me!

Here's an assignment from a fourth-grade student's homework that has helped me get much clearer:
Read the following statements, and label each statement fact or opinion.

George Washington was the first President of the United States. (fact)
George Washington was the greatest president we ever had. (opinion)
Cats have whiskers. (fact)
Cats are sneaky. (opinion)

Facts are things or events that exist (or existed) in External Reality.
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Emotions and Feelings

The Hard Work of Forgiveness. Step One.

I've just begun reading Wounds Not Healed by Time, by Solomon Schimmel, in which he explores the psychic rewards and also the hard work of forgiveness.

Unlike physical injuries, the wounds of betrayal don't just fade away over time. If anything, the emotional injuries that happen between people tend to become worse when left unaddressed.

This is because people ruminate; we replay negative events over and over and over in our heads, entrenching them ever more deeply in our neurons.

And as we rehearse these negative experiences, we also distort them little by little with each rehearsal, so that we wind up creating memories that are worse than what really happened. These memories are emotionally charged and feel vivid and REAL to us.
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What Does a Learning Disability Feel Like?

I've always been a good student, and academic subjects always came to me easily. That doesn't mean I don't have to work; I do. But I'm confident in my ability to learn. I know that if I sit down and apply myself, I will, in a reasonably quick amount of time, "get" whatever it is I am studying.

Academic learning is not so easy for most of my students, and so once in a while I treat myself to a little reminder of what it feels like to not get it, to struggle and fall behind and be the slowest kid in the group: I make myself take a dance class.

Lucky for me that dance is neither a graduation requirement nor a section on the SAT, because I'd never have made it out of high school, let alone into any college whatsoever.
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Noticing Your Daily Contribution

I love my work, but sometimes, especially during final exam season, it can be exhausting!

I loved rediscovering this little parable the other day; it really kept me going as I sat with student after student, plowing through the same chemistry review packet over and over and over...

Three brick layers were busy at work, and a passerby stopped and asked each what he was doing.
I'm laying bricks, said the first.
I'm making my living, said the second.
I'm building a cathedral, said the third.

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