D.I.Y. Therapy

DIY Therapy – Own Up To Your Actions

Own Up

It’s easy to place blame on outside forces. When someone hurts us, they are to blame and we take some comfort knowing it wasn’t our fault.  On a personal level however, we truly are the only person in control and if we refuse to accept personal responsibility we are unable to move forward.  Allowing ourselves to be victims for too long is damaging. We are designed to heal. It starts with silencing those thoughts in our mind that give voice to our past, present and future bullies.

Pity parties, disillusionment, and fantasy allowed me to give up before things ever got too challenging. I refused to heal

I was a victim for longer than I needed to be. Rather than find help so I could move forward and grow, I clung tightly to those long gone bullies in school, career failures after college, and unhealthy relationships. Nothing was my fault because the world was too cruel and unforgiving for “pobre mi” to do anything. I stopped trying to succeed and decided to live in the memories of a happy childhood, along with living in a fantasy world of books and movies. This fantasy told the story that someday my luck would change, an important person would point me out in a crowd as a heroine, and raise me up.

Even in my fantasy world I wasn’t in control, but instead waiting to be saved. Because only if someone made it easy for me could I finally succeed.  I lost any thought that I was in control of my life. In my disillusioned state only someone or something else could help me.

I lied about my personal feelings, invested my energy and time in people I didn’t care about or who had little in common with me, and chased the elusive myth that money and things could solve my problems. In fact that is still an obstacle I must fight when life gets rough. I did try for things, but easily gave up whenever it became difficult. I put on a brave face. Oh wasn’t I such a martyr, marching on despite this cruel world that rejected me as a young adult and still didn’t want me to be happy. In reality, I was very sad, socially awkward, and scared. I couldn’t admit to being wrong or people would realize how much of a failure I really was.

Terrified of rejection from people that might genuinely like me, I stopped socializing. I jumped from one job and one city to the next with no plan. I burned bridges. I gave up. So I acted like the unintended consequences of my rash decisions were purposeful choices. There was always an excuse or a way out of any problem without putting myself in too much harms way.   I felt so alone which only made my depression deepen. While skipping from place to place in attempt at finding purpose I gve up by never trying hard enough.

I had taught myself to be a perpetual victim. At the age of 32 and a tumultuous year of loss and change, I  decided it was time to learn a new way of living. Personal Responsibility was my first lesson. Below are five lessons I learned about owning up to my actions.

1. You are in control of your thoughts. What you think has a a huge impact on your self-worth. If you constantly think “failure, loser, awkward, weird” in reference to you, that is what life becomes. Change the way you think about yourself, about others, and about your capabilities. Celebrate what makes you feel good and learn the necessary skills for the parts of you that need improvement. Focus on what YOU think needs improving. Don’t listen to those who judge you and tell you what you need to change. *They don’t know what’s best for you. You know what’s best for you.

*(Unless you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol which change your brain chemistry. In that case others may have a clearer idea of what you need.)

2. Change your relationship to the world. The world owes you nothing, but it has given you life. Now it’s up to you how to live. You are in charge and it’s time you take actions for the life you desire. What do you perceive as the perfect life? Whatever it is, you need to figure out how to make it happen without waiting to win the lottery or for your boss/partner/friends to realize you deserve better and save you. We are the outcome of cause and effect. What we give to the world is what we get back.  Research what you need to get to your dream life, make a plan, and stick to it until you succeed.

3. Ask for what you need. Ask for help. Ask for guidance from someone who has been through what you are going through. If you’re not succeeding in your career find a mentor or shadow someone at work. If there’s a hobby or sport you really enjoy learn how to do it better. and see what opportunities there are such as internships, classes, or books that you can learn from. When I decided to start a writing and editing career it was and still is a learning experience. Before I would give up if I had to put it in too much effort, but now I commit to actually finishing projects.

4. Admit to being wrong. Go ahead try it the next time you make a small mistake. Now repeat that admission a few more times and pay attention to how that makes you feel.  Let go of your ego.  Let go of the fantasy of perfection.  We all make mistakes, some of us seemingly more often than others. That’s okay! Mistakes don’t make you a bad person, but believing you’re worthless will make you act worthless. Teach yourself to apologize, admit when you are wrong, and allow yourself to make mistakes without admonishing yourself.

5. Fight when it matters. Fighting in self defense is good. Fighting to prove you are tough is dangerous. Debating(without yelling and with reason) over politics, human rights, and personal beliefs is healthy. Arguing over the remote control, what movie to see, or who is correct; those are all a waste of energy. Your energy needs to be spent on inner growth, not on changing others.  Save your strength for what matters. There will be many times you need to assert yourself and  prove a point, but sometimes you need to let go and move forward.

Before when I was frustrated, upset or angry I would throw a pity party complete with panic attacks and hours of sobbing.  The slightest thing could set me off, be it serious, exaggerated, or simply a doubtful thought. After teaching myself a new way to live I am at a point where I can stop myself from giving up. I do this by reminding myself that life ebbs and flows. What’s bad now will not be bad down the road, unless I insist on moving forward with it.

Now I know that I am capable, I remind myself that of my accomplishments and my desires every day with my powerful thoughts. I changed my thinking. I stopped letting every bad moment turn into a week or month long tragedy. I read books and articles about conflict resolution, anger management,  and inner peace.  I became certified to teach self defense. I started working on a career that would resonate with me, and now I  learn something new every day.

I used to live in fear, now I live aware.

Be conscious of your actions, words, and thoughts. Seek out people who share your passions in life.  Get involved in a project that makes you feel good and see it through to the wonderful end.  As you focus on what resonates with you more of that will come into your life.

learning self-worth

I lost 17 years to depression.  During those years many days and nights were spent curled into a ball, sobbing, and calling myself the worst things you can imagine.  During the day I felt this incredible weight of sadness. It was only lifted by occasional moments of relief in the form of happy surprises and lucky turns. There are months at a time that I have zero recollection of; others will remind me about something that happened or a job I had and it will be a complete blank. Hope was a made up word. I could glimpse a good life, but assumed that sadness would hold me down until I drowned sooner rather than later.

Fortunately after spending more than half my life unhappy I was finally able to make changes. It didn’t happen overnight, but I learned how to take control.  That weight of sadness is gone.  Even a few years after changing I am AMAZED that not only can I feel good, but I am not afraid. This post is one of many where I will share the steps I took to overcome depression, fear, and self-loathing. I hope it can help someone else on their journey to inner balance.

If you like this blog check out my books at Bookemon: http://www.bookemon.com/member-book-list/151519 or Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007LMUEJ2

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Empowering Discussions

Does DIY Therapy Work?

How will you find happiness when the world is so dark you can’t see, you are so sad you can’t smile, and fear immobilizes you?  What if you can’t afford to see a therapist for help? Where do you turn if you don’t want to join a church for “free” counseling? What if you don’t want to use drugs for balance?

For almost two decades I lived afraid, sad and hopeless. Yes there were good and even great moments, but those were short lived and once over I was back to misery again.  My life was so awful that most nights and many days I was curled up on the floor sobbing, begging the universe for a quick and easy death, feeling helpless, useless, and ugly. Most people never realized how depressed I was because I hid behind a big smile in public, but looking back my actions must have raised a few eyebrows. My depression started as a child who moved to a different school each year, was bullied and teased, and wasn’t taught how to solve problems. I felt helpless, useless, and ugly for way too long.

It took it’s toll. I couldn’t keep a job, became lazy and unmotivated, felt lost no matter what I did, and stopped caring. Hope and happiness was for other people. I believed all the cruelty from childhood bullies and mean girls. I convinced myself that I was worthless based on all my mistakes and cowardice. I shopped for things that would make me happy’ but never did. I gave up on my dreams.

ShineThere are plenty of stories about people who cured or deal with their depression by finding a god or religion to believe in.  I did not need to find a god or prophet to change my life. Then again I have never wanted or felt a need for religion or spirituality. I believe that only I am in control of how my life plays out. When I finally chose to make a positive difference, I looked within myself and read lots of books and blogs. I spent hours each day on different theories, ideas, and movements. I read stories of people who overcame tragedy and apathy. I took little pieces from everything and put them together to find inner peace. Our world is amazing and there is so much we can learn. Learning allowed me to grow. Learning was the first step.

The best wisdom I found in my search is so ridiculously simple. (I said simple, not easy.) Simple means uncomplicated and straightforward. Easy means you don’t need to put forth much effort. Simple can be momentous if you are open to learning. The simple truth I learned is this: our universe  ebbs and flows. Everything and everyone is continuously ebbing and flowing, therefore life is about riding those flows and surviving the ebbs. I looked at my life and all the ebbs I got through. Some were terrifying, some left scars, but I survived. “Look at YOUR LIFE and all that you have overcome” I screamed at myself. Make a list of everything you were scared of, but survived anyway. Write down the ones that you barely got through, the ones you wish you had solved differently. You are still here! You survived those ebbs. Write down HOW you survived and you will learn valuable tools

Right now is the time to let go of the past. Like quitting meat or smoking you have to cold turkey yourself from past tragedies. The past is never coming back. It doesn’t control you. The past shaped you, but it does not define you. Look at your moments of cowardice, your mistakes, those words you never should have said. Remember the people you hurt, the times you didn’t help someone, and the times you lost your temper.  Now write down what you learned from each experience. We make mistakes and that is OKAY!  I remind myself daily to move forward and pay attention to what does and doesn’t work. When I don’t pay attention, I repeat those mistakes, and suffer the consequences.

Death, loss. and mistakes have shaped me in a good way. I have learned that we are all fragile, we have no guarantee of living to 100, and we can choose to enjoy each day. Death is a part of the circle of life. You can’t lose if you never had and you can’t grow if you never fail.

A simple way to get through the ebbs and appreciate the flows is mindfulness. Whenever a moment arises where I can slow down and be still, I close my eyes, take a few deep breaths, and focus on my breath, the sounds of people and the city, waves breaking on shore,  or tweeting birds. I am mindful for at least 5 minutes. It’s amazing how easily this short “meditation” can revitalize me. At first I would get distracted by my to-do list or negative thoughts, but now I can be mindful and focus. This has been one of the greatest gifts because as I listen I am soothed to know that I am a part of this world. For better or worse there will always be a place I belong. Being aware of our surroundings is important because it reminds us that we are all connected to the world. Be mindful of your senses because touch, scent, sound, and vision are all interconnected. Follow your intuition.

Some people need drugs to change the chemicals in their brain so they can function. Thank goodness for that. You shouldn’t feel bad about taking chemical stabilizing drugs so that you can function. We are all born with different chemical balances so to those who say drugs don’t work. How do you know for sure what someone else needs? For a long time I thought maybe that I would need drugs someday or I would go completely crazy and hurt myself. Instead I was able to change my diet and get active so that my body felt good and my moods stabilized. Taking care of my health was the second step. It takes a long time to change habits. I decided to try my hardest and that involved becoming a vegetarian. As a lover of hamburgers and barbecue ribs, this was tough. Not eating meat is also very inconvenient if you are on a budget and the food choices in your area are all fast food joints. Even the salads have meat! I had to quit suddenly and not slowly go off meat. The first 3 months were the worst. Now 4 years later it is simply a part of me. Reducing the sugar in my diet has helped me from staying clear of that sugar high that is always accompanied by a sugar low. I feel stable when I eat well and move around.

We can be our worst enemy. If we believe the lies and cruelty of others than we are victims. If we change our thinking to what is really true we are survivors. Even if the people around us aren’t saying we need to be better, if you watch TV, listen to the radio or look through magazines you are inundated with messages that “You need this and that to be perfect and loved”. LIES!!!  YOU CAN LOVE YOURSELF JUST THE WAY YOU ARE, WITH YOUR FLAWS AND ASSETS.  Therapy can be very helpful because it is healthy to share our story, to vent and to have someone wiser guide us. But therapy is expensive. If you don’t have insurance or qualify for free services a therapist is not an option.  I researched therapy and learned about Solution Based Therapy. In traditional therapy you search for the root of a problem and spend years doing so.  If you know what the root is or at least are pretty sure than you can focus on fixing that broken part. Besides spending years focusing on that negativity won’t necessarily allow you to move forward and live for the future. It is too easy to stay in the past. The past is a memory. Change the way you think and you will see the world differently. Changing my thoughts and attitude was the third step.

To stop feeling helpless I changed my thinking. This was by far the hardest action to take. Seventeen years of thinking I was a victim was hard to change. My first two actions showed me that I already was changing my thinking. So I had to take that a step forward and apply it to not just outside appearance and helping others. I decided to love my inner self with all my flaws, mistakes, and regrets. I also changed how I though towards others. It’s one thing to judge someone on their actions, it’s another to PASS judgement on others. I realize that we all have our own paths to take and mine is no better than yours. I wasn’t being bullied anymore and the last time I was physically assaulted was a decade ago so removing the word victim from my thoughts and actions freed me. I took a leap and became certified to teach self defense. Now I am helping others feel like a survivor instead of a victim.

My pity part is over. Negativity may be a part of life, but I will not let it control my life. Sometimes pessimism is good. We cannot trust every person or every stray dog.  Being aware of all aspects of life keeps us alive. We have to be aware of our actions, aware of others, and follow our intuition, but we must also be careful not to let our judgement become so clouded that we are unsure and afraid.

These are the main actions I took in my DIY therapy. Once again these are simple actions, but not easy.

  • To stop feeling useless I wrote my first book encouraging girls to be strong and providing them with resources and information to help them do so. I also became certified to teach self defense. I continue to write more books, volunteer in my community, and teach self defense to women and girls. I feel very useful when I write and teach.
  • To end the feeling of being ugly I stopped consuming hours and hours of media that told me how I should look and that there was always something wrong with me. No more magazines and TV shows. I remind myself each day that I have only one body and my looks may not be perfect, but they are mine and I am beautiful. I look for and find examples of people who know that beauty COMES from inside, and is not about outside opinions.

This post is not to tell anyone that their choice towards recovery is wrong. I don’t know what YOU need. You are a unique individual with your own issues who must find solutions that work for you. This is a voice for those who want to change their life without a finding a god, paying for expensive therapy, or using drugs. Some of what I shared may help, some may not. Ultimately change is up to you.

Remember this when commenting: RESPECT yourself enough to allow others to be who they are. ACCEPT that others believe differently than you. TOLERATE those differences. Judging someone or their beliefs is as lame as judging them for their weight, skin color, gender, or who they love.  We all see and live based on INDIVIDUAL RELEVANCE. Not everyone will like what you write so just deal with that fact.  Comments are moderated so if you get crazy with your comment  it won’t be published even if it has good points. There is no place for judgement or name calling here. Peace.

PS. If you enjoy this blog you may enjoy my published books. You can read, leave a comment, and purchase my books on Bookemon or  Amazon.