Healing depression, preconceived beliefs, and dog’s fears?

Written by Amie on October 15, 2009 – 1:15 am -

New trashcans!

I have a dog that is pretty fearful. We aren’t really sure why, or what happened to him as a puppy, but something made him become very fearful. He is afraid of new people, new surroundings, new trashcans, new everything. I had to add the trashcans, because honestly, he is afraid of new trashcans, or just old ones he has never seen before!  He has been quite a challenge in our family, but at heart, he is very sweet. So, anyway, we are trying to see life through his eyes. I was taking him for a walk yesterday, and while I was observing the trees, the grass, the blacktop, etc., I thought about how interesting it would be to look at my surroundings and my experiences all as they are brand new.

Story vs. Helpful Information

I took this a step further and decided that for the day, I would drop any preconceived stories, beliefs, or feelings I have about things that I experienced for the day. I think this post ties in with my last one about added commentary. I realized how I have a story for just about everything! I think it was in Eckhart Tolle’s book  A New Earth, that he talks about putting labels on everything. We call a tree a tree, a bird a bird, etc. I noticed that I even make up stories, or had preconceived beliefs about why someone is driving too fast, why a neighbor is cutting down a tree, what my reaction will be if a dog runs out of a house and scares my dog etc. I do realize that some of these stories are needed. It is helpful to know which houses the dogs are that will run down the driveway, as it is helpful to know other information from experience.

A continuous loop

However, I realized what a habit it is to tell ourselves stories. I know I have talked about this before, but since I did this little experiment, I thought it was worth sharing. I know that I have come a very long way in terms of having stories playing in a continuous loop in my head. I really thought they were almost non-existent! Ha! Many of them are alive and well! I will say that most of the negative commentary about myself is gone, but I do have many stories playing in my head. I see that many of the stories are about my needs. I do have a strong need to feel safe, which is tied to so many other things going on with me. I don’t like surprise, such as a dog running down a driveway out of nowhere that scares me to death! I like to know what to expect in most situations, I am one that needs to ease into change, I don’t transition quickly!

Guideposts

So, anyway, back to my experiment. Hopefully this isn’t jumping around too much! It was such a wake-up call to me to see how many stories I make up as I go along. Also, if I have experienced something just one time before, I have a story about it. I know this is how we figure out our world, like a baby does. We have to have some guideposts, so to speak. But, wow, it would be so nice to be able to erase some of these stories, and just start fresh whenever we want to. Which, come to find out, is possible!

Short term memory?

Here I am pondering again. I am thinking how my dog can go for a walk, come back, and if I offered him another walk 5 minutes later, he is ready to go as if he has never gone. I guess his short term memory is not so great? I don’t know. But then, something that happened to him as a puppy stays with him and creates a habit of reacting the same way to certain stimuli. Not that humans are like dogs, but I can see how patterns set early on, can be tricky to change. Tricky, but not impossible.

The Abyss

I never thought I would ever feel “recovered”, so to speak from depression, but I do. I still have some bad days, but I don’t fall into the deep abyss that sucked me up in the past. I look at my dog, and I realize that he deserves compassion. He gives me compassion and unconditional love, no questions asked. We all deserve this. We have been conditioned, just like my dog was, but we have the capacity to heal. Just like I am helping Owen (my dog) become more accustomed to new ways of looking at things, we can all do the same.  By becoming aware of the stories we create, we can change our beliefs and thoughts. I promise you, you can do it.  I did this “questioning of my stories” early on in my healing from depression journey. Each time I became aware of a negative story, I had to say the story out loud, and then I made the decision as to whether it was still true in my life. If I answered “yes”, it is still true, I made myself show proof. I would use Byron Katie’s process of “the work”. I would ask myself Is it true? If yes,”how do I know it is true”? I would challenge myself to prove it. Most of the time, I couldn’t. Therefore, even though I still “thought” the negative story about myself was true, I decided that it doesn’t fit who I want to be anymore. So, I made up a new story, and I repeated it many times a day for as long as I needed to. Yes, it took work, but it is worth it! We are all worth it!

Byron Katie’s “Unconditional love happens in a questioned mind”

Where did this story come from?

This post kind of feels like it is skipping around, but, well, I have said that many times, haven’t I? I just want you to know that just because we have been using the same stories about ourselves for many years, DOES NOT make them true! It was not simple to change my story, but once I realized that I didn’t know where most of my stories came from, it became easier to release them. I even went as far as writing them down, and then burning the piece of paper as a release of the stories. Did they creep back in? Sure, sometimes, but I became like a gatekeeper to my mind. As I mentioned above, I still have stories, but the difference now is that I am actually aware of them. They used to play on autopilot in my mind, and I never noticed. I just felt horrible most of the time. I couldn’t verbalize the messages and stories for quite awhile. It really does take vigilance and awareness.

Seeing through new eyes

My experiment was helpful because it allowed me to step back and just let my mind take a quiet rest. I allowed myself to look at things like they were fresh and new. I tried really hard to look at old situations with new eyes. People I “know” and have seen many times became new to me. It was really fun to just look at people, and try to just see past their “stories”, my stories, and whatever circumstances were present, and just be there with them. I didn’t let anyone know I was doing this. And, I made sure that I told the inner judge to take the day off. If it tried to chime in, I gently reminded it that it had the day off. Not resisting it, but gently acknowledging it, and then letting it go. It is a practice to be with my fearful dog without getting frustrated at every turn, but I am going to treat myself the same way I want to treat him. I want to be compassionate, non-judgmental, and very present.

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Let your emotions out, people!

Written by Amie on October 8, 2009 – 1:06 am -

The movie The Invention of Lying

I saw a movie tonight called The Invention Of  Lying. It was nothing like I thought it would be, and I am still trying to figure out exactly what I thought of it! I walked away scratching my head, but at the same time, it got my wheels spinning. The short of it was nobody knew how to lie. Until one day a man discovered lying. He was the only one who knew how to lie. Everybody believed every single thing  people said to them. Most of the people seemed depressed and lonely, which is another conversation in itself. One thing I thought about after the movie was how easy it is to believe everything that is said to us personally.  We are born not knowing how to lie, or to exaggerate the truth. Soon, we learn telling the truth doesn’t always get us a positive response, so lying begins. We start to believe what others tell us about ourselves, yet we learn to doubt the messages inside us, the ones telling us the truth about ourselves. The stories don’t match up, but yet we keep hearing the external messages so often we soon forget to listen to the internal connection we have.

Are you telling the truth?

The movie was a catalyst for pondering, no doubt. It also made me think about the people that are smiling saying everything is great, but really suffering in silence. There was a guy in the movie that was depressed and suicidal. Since he couldn’t lie, he just came right out and talked about it. This struck a chord with me because my brother did commit suicide. I knew that he was suffering, but had no idea how badly. This makes me wonder so many things. The biggest thing I wonder is why in the world are people taught that sharing their truth with others is somehow a bad thing?  We are taught that having any kind of emotions is really not OK. You do that in private, by yourself. Suffer in silence. Kids are sent to time out because they are showing emotion. Maybe in the form of a temper tantrum, but that is the only way they know how to express how frustrated they are! So from a young age, many people are taught that expressing their emotions is bad, and it also makes them weak. Expressing emotions is something that can be bothersome to others. I wonder how many people are walking around suffering? I can’t even imagine the amount.

liv shouting

Let your emotions out people!

So, I am here to say, “let your emotions out people!!” I say this with a smile! Seriously, what do we have to lose? Fight those voices that are telling you something is wrong with you, or the voices telling you how lazy you are or the voices asking, “how could you do that”? I say tell those voices to go jump in a lake without a life jacket. Corny? Sure, but you have to have a sense of humor when you talk to the voices in your head, they are not always rational!   As nice as it is to  get gifts, I don’t want anymore dysfunctional gifts, thank you very much. So, here is something to remember, if someone tries to give you a negative message or belief, you can say thanks, but no thanks, even if you say it just to yourself.

Messages you were born with

Here are some of the messages that I want to be coursing through my mind, and ones I put there myself when I need to feel nurtured. At this point, I am beyond caring how this sounds! I know I can’t be the only one out there who needs to hear nurturing beliefs. When I was part of a women’s healing circle, we each came up with things we needed to hear. So, hopefully this will be a gift to you that you can take in and let in to your belief system. The thoughts we were born with that got drowned out. I am saying these to you even though I can’t see you, but I hope that you can feel them. Let them sink in to your cells. Make up your own. Write down things you really need to hear, and say them out loud to yourself.

The truth

You are perfect exactly as you are. I hear you. I see you. I believe you. Who you are is what matters most. I care about you. I respect you. I love you for who you are. I support you. This is just a start……what do you need to hear from the voices inside your head?

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