Yesterday I wrote about Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. It’s a lot of work to shift how you feel/think/behave. You have to put in the work to be flexible enough to change your perspective in order to make the first move toward re-framing your thoughts.
Take the illustration above. Aside from being funny, it illustrates such an important reminder that we shouldn’t necessarily believe everything we think. Both of these people are correct, but they are also wrong. Memories can be false, all the information cannot be known, other people’s motivations can drastically differ from our own, etc. There are lots of reasons we come up with different assumptions, certainties, and beliefs about how things are. This, of course, is frequently the basis of arguments between people over any given issue.
What is correct? I’ve come to believe it’s arbitrary most of the time.
That’s why I believe it’s more important to be kind than to be right.
This is the way to good relationships. Agree to disagree, and respect that conclusions were reached the same way but with differing results. Whether we’re talking politics, raising children, what happened in a car accident, what was decided in a work meeting, or a number of other topics, we can never assume everyone believes things exactly the same way.
Again, flexibility is what is needed here. Flexible thinking. Flexible certainty.
But Susan, you say, how can you stand for anything if you have to be so flexible with your thinking? How can you be certain of anything at all?
Well, reader, I think it’s perfectly fine — in many cases — to be set in your ways and have solid beliefs you cling to in order to make sense of the world. This is what makes you who you are.
It’s what you do with your beliefs (behaviors) that matters. If you feel, for instance, that you’re worthless, think that everything that happens to you is solid proof that the world is out to get you or that your life has no value, and behave angrily/sadly/dejectedly/anxiously OR act as though nothing’s wrong, as a result of those feelings and thoughts, you’re most likely bound for a mental disorder. I speak from experience, so this is my own interpretation and even validation of this counseling model helping to get out of that cycle.
My therapist has hit the point home: we cannot control other people, places, and things. There is so much out of our control. Most things IN life are out of our control. Not to say that we can’t try to take control to work toward a desired outcome. But, too many times in my life I have assumed responsibilities that weren’t mine: trying to make others happy, carrying their burdens far more than I should have, trying to please everyone I lived and worked with to the detriment of my own happiness. The underlying motivation of this behavior was fear of not being loved and the fear of others confirming that I wasn’t valuable. My core belief was that I didn’t matter, so I tried to build myself up by trying to be perfect. This meant I didn’t share my feelings, and in fact, questioned the validity of my feelings. My feelings were so out of line with my thoughts and behaviors.
Sit there and be a good girl, even though you want to scream out in frustration right now.
When you see someone at work, and they ask you how you are, smile and say, “great, how are you?” even though you feel like slipping through the cracks in the floor and disappearing forever.
Perception is reality. When others see you as upbeat, happy, successful, then they perceive that you are until you show them differently. It takes a LOT of energy to spend so much of life trying to portray yourself as having it all together when you certainly don’t.
Frankly, I got too tired to uphold it all and I started caving in under the pressure. That was when the mood disorder really hit hard. Everything I touched seemed to crumble in my hands, and no amount of emotional duct tape and glue could hold it up. My work was suffering, my marriage suffering, my ability to parent, my ability to keep times and dates straight, etc. It affected every realm of my life.
I had to start working on how to perceive myself. That’s the shift in thoughts I needed to make. I had to make my insides match my outsides. While I am not there yet, I am getting closer. I speak my find far more often, ask for help more often, say no far more often. I ask for forgiveness a lot. Changing my thoughts on my personal values is changing my feelings and behaviors.
That’s my stream of consciousness for today. 🙂
Thanks for reading.