A Beautiful Mess

A Sexual Abuse and Addiction Recovery Blog

Learning to Set Boundaries

“Let your heart guide you.  It whispers, so listen closely.” – Molly Goode (20th-century American writer)

Healthy boundaries are flexible, safe and connected.  We should be able to be both close and distant depending on a situation.  We should set them to keep some distance between those that are not good for us and at the same time, allow for connected’ness’ with those that are good for us.  We want to be able to protect ourselves, but not completely cut ourselves off from being able to feel connected with the world or a few good people!

I have had a difficulty in saying ‘no’ in relationships, giving way too much, getting connected too fast, staying in relationships much longer than need be, and trusting people too fast.  I’ve also had difficulty with isolating, feeling lonely and distancing myself from people who care about me.

Boundary problems are a misdirected attempt to be loved.  When we give too much, too soon, by trying to win the affections of others, we actually teach them to exploit us.  And by not giving enough to others, we don’t allow ourselves to obtain the support that we really need and desire.

Healthy boundaries can keep us safe.

Setting good boundaries prevents extremes in relationships.  We can avoid the extremes of a relationship by not being on one end of the spectrum or the other.  Such as giving too much vs. not enough.  Neither way is good and balance is crucial.

It is important to set boundaries with ourselves and others.

Situations where we can learn to say “no”:

  • refusing drugs and alcohol
  • pressure to share more information than we want to
  • going along with things we really don’t want to
  • when we are taking care of everyone but ourselves
  • when we do all the giving in a relationship
  • when we make promises to ourselves that we do not keep
  • when doing certain things take away from the focus of recovery

Times when we can learn to say “yes”:

  • asking someone out for coffee
  • telling a therapist what we are really feeling
  • asking someone for a favor
  • joining a club or activity
  • calling a hotline
  • being vunerable about our “weak” feelings
  • letting people get to know us
  • soothing “young” parts of ourselves

The thing about the yes is that we can open ourselves up for rejection and we have to realize that.  It’s normal and life goes on.  Let go of that and move on.

Practice, if possible, so that when we do attempt to connect with others there may be a bit more comfortability.

Choose safe people, and know that it’s normal to make mistakes along the way.  Start with small things first.  And when choosing to connect, focus more on what you have in common with people and less about what you don’t.

Things to try this week to commit to moving our lives forward:

  • in a real life situation this week, try setting a boundary with a person or ourselves
  • memorize three great ways to say “no”
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At This Moment…

At this moment, I have so much to be thankful for.  Another person in my shoes may not feel the same, but I am seeing progress.  And in life, I’ll take some progress anyday over standing still or moving backwards.

My heartaches for a young lady right now.  Preteen and a victim of the same perpetrator that is also mine.  He stole my childhood.  He made me deal with adult issues as a child.  He almost ruined my life.  And knowing that he has struck again… and again… and again, sickens me.  I am so proud of her though.  She’s so strong and as a society, we’ve come a long way with coping mechanisms and helping children work through it.  I will pray for her.  I will be there for her anytime she needs me.  I am truly hurt that she had to endure any moment with him.  God bless.

My open group at The Healing Center is doing amazing things for me.  It’s great to be surrounded by a group of women that are working so hard to put these things in their past and move forward.  Such a strong, courageous and determined group of women.  They inspire me.  Therapy does stir the pot.  I don’t always leave feeling better than when I went in, but it’s all part of the healing process.  I want it to be immediate and I want it all solved now, but I know that it’s a process and not just something I do and poof it’s all good.  It’s gonna hurt.  I’m going to cry.  But at least, I have the shoulder’s of these women and this center to lean on.  I am now in two different groups there.  And I’ve been told I will be receiving my one on one counseling in January – woohoo, moved up on the wait list 🙂  An early Christmas present!  Thank you Jesus!

I know that all in due time, I will be where I want to be.  I just have to remember that this is God’s will and God’s plan, so I must not interject with my own demands.  I need to be patient and flex my faith muscle.

More later, all this blogging has my fingers cramping 🙂  LOL.

Humbled and on the road to recovery!

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Coping and Living With Anxiety

Well let’s start with some fun and uplifting news.  Brain chemistry can be changed.  And we can do it ourselves.  It’s scientifically proven.  I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s butt.

Let me start with also saying that the majority of this blog is material that is quoted or paraphrased from ACT Made Simple – free e-book via Google.

The mind can be a big bully.  It can play tricks on us.  It does play tricks on us.  Our mind is like a great storyteller.  It wants us to listen to it.  It wants our full attention.  And it will say whatever it needs to say to get our attention.  And while some of the stories our mind tells are true, there are times that it’s most definitely not factual.  It’s more like opinions, beliefs, attitudes, ideas, so on and so forth.  We need to learn when the stories are helpful and when they are not.  Close your eyes for 30 seconds and just listen to the stories your mind is telling you right now.

We are not our thoughts.  Thoughts do not create behaviors.  We need to retrain our brains.  Let go of the thoughts that are standing in the way of us doing what we need to do to live a rich, fulfilling and meaningful life.  Negative self talk is so destructive and I am guilty of entertaining it, but I do make a point for the most part, to dispute those thoughts.  My thoughts do manifest the reality I live in.  Sometimes we need to disconnect from our thoughts by practicing some in the moment exercises.  We must escape from our thinking mind from time to time and use our observing mind.

THOUGHTS

Pragmatism

If you go along with that thought, buy into it, and let it control you, where does that leave you?  What do you get for buying into it?  Where do you go from here?  Can you give it a go anyway, even though your mind says it won’t work?

Interested

That’s an interesting thought.

Meditative

Let your thoughts come and go like passing clouds.

Your Mind is Like…

A “don’t get killed” machine, a word machine, radio “gloom and doom”, a masterful salesman, the world’s greatest story teller, a fascist dicator, a judgment factory

Bullying Reframe

What’s it like to be pushed around by that thought/belief/idea?  Do you want it to run your life and tell you what to do all the time?

Problem Solving

You’re in pain, so your mind tries to figure out a way to stop the pain.  Your mind evolved to solve the problems.  This is its job.  It’s not defective; it’s doing what it evolved to do.  But some of those solutions are not very effective.  Your job is to assess whether your mind’s solutions are effective: do they give you a rich and full life in the long run?

Workability

If you let that thought dictate what you do, how does it work in the long run?  Does buying into it help you create a rich, full and meaningful life?

Naming the Story

If all these thoughts and feelings were put into a book or movie, titled “the something something story,” what would you call it?  Each time this story shows up, name it: “Aha, there’s the XYZ story again!”

FEELINGS

Healing Hand

Lay a hand on the part of your body where you feel this most intensely.  Imagine this is a healing hand — the hand of a loving nurse, or parent, or partner.  Send some warmth into this area — not to get rid of the feeling, but to open up around it, make room for it, hold it gently.

Normalizing

This feeling tells you that you’re a normal human being who has a heart and who cares.  This is what humans feel when there’s a gap between what we want and what we’ve got.

Compassion

Hold this feeling gently as if it’s a crying baby or a whimpering puppy.

The Choice to Feel

Suppose I could give you a choice: (a) you never get to have feelin ever again, but it means you lose all capacity to love and care, or (b) you get to love and care, but when there’s a gap between what you want and what you’ve got, feelings like this one show up.  Which do you choose?

CLARIFYING VALUES

Wealth

You inherit a fortune.  What would you do with it?  Who would be there to share those activities or appreciate the things you buy?  How would you act toward all those people who share your new life?

Character Strengths

What personal strenths and qualities do you already have?  Which new ones would you like to develop?  How would you like to apply them?

What Matters?

What do you really want?  What matters to you in the big picture?  What do you want to stand for?  Is there anything in your life right now that gives you a sense of meaning, purpose, vitality?

Missing Out

What important areas of life have you given up or missed out on for lack of willingness?

Artistic Methods

Paint, draw, or sculpt your values

Childhood Dreams

As a child, what sort of life did you imagine for your future?

There are a plethora of other dealing mechanisms for bringing out minds back down to earth, this is just a few.  I suggest visiting here to read Act Made Simple: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy e-book that facilitates and teaches the ACT method.  Retrain the brain.   Change the chemistry!  Because we can.

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A Dance With Anxiety – Life Slips Away

A lot of paraphrasing went on from my source which is an excerpt from “The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety“.  I plan on purchasing it myself, because the four pages I did receive in group were very enlightening and encouraging.

Most people want to move through life with the sun on their face and no obstacles in their way.  I know I do.  Unfortunately, life is not that simple.  We experience things in life that can cause us to have to deal with painful memories, anxiety, nervousness, negative thoughts and the list could go on.  A lot of times, because we don’t know any better, we seek to avoid these feelings.  We freak out.  We stop going down any road so to speak.  We are at a stand still in life.  We sometimes turn around and start taking steps back in life.  We turn our energies into trying to get a grip.  We try many different methods to fix it all and make it go away before proceeding down the road of life.  All the while we are fixated on trying to fix or rid ourselves our these things, time is ticking away.  Our life is just waiting on us to live it and pretty soon our life, itself, also becomes sad because it knows the outcome if we continue to do this.  We simply remove ourselves from living.

When we pull out of life, we don’t get away from our hurt.  When we run away or hide, we take these hurts with us.  We feel exhausted, frustrated and defeated.  And then of course, here comes our negative thinking that keeps pecking away with questions like, “why can’t I be normal”, “why can’t I get a grip on my fears and anxieties”…  We are stuck.  We feel cheated, we feel mad.  Our life is not sadder than it was before but yet it is still waiting for us to live it.

But then something changes, something profound and beautiful happens!

We see what is really going on.

We take stock.

We say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

We open ourselves up to other possibilities in life.  Maybe, my thoughts and feelings are not barriers at all in life.  Perhaps I need to accept the fact that all of this just makes me part of who I am today.  Maybe I can live my life with these things in it, and still do things that I care about.

Life is meant to be lived.  We will all experience things in life that will seem overwhelming, daunting and perhaps make us want to throw the towel in.  But it’s the fact that we can’t stop living.  We can’t avoid these things.  And by attempting to do so and investing so much time and energy into the “what if’s” or the could of, would of, and should of’s, we utilize precious energy and time into the wrong things. 

I am committed to learning to act on my anxiety in a totally different way so that I don’t watch my life simply go by.

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Anxiety, Fears and Phobias (Academic Portion)

Anxiety

Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional and behavioral components.  It creates an unpleasant feeling typically associated with uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry.  Anxiety does NOT need a trigger to occur.  It can literally come out of ‘nowhere’.  It is a future orientated mood state that prepares or readies a person to cope with upcoming negative events.  It is a normal reaction to stress.  It actually serves its own purpose.  It prepares us for events that we are anxious of happening.

Some physical effects of anxiety are heart palpitations, muscle weakness, tension, fatigue, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, stomach aches, and headaches.  Some emotional effects are feelings of apprehension or dread, trouble concentrating, feeling tense or jumpy, anticipating the worst, irritability, restlessness, watching and waiting for signs of danger, feeling like your mind’s gone blank, feelings of unreality, feelings like everything is scary.  Cognitive effects are thoughts about suspected danger.

When anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.  It is curable!

Fear

Fear is a present-orientated mood state to help one take protective action when safety or health is threatened.  Physiological responses include rapid heartbeat, breathlessness, increased blood pressure, may feel hot, nauseous, sweat, adrenaline increase to increase energy if one needs to fight or flee, become more aware of surroundings.

NOTE: Many confuse anxiety with fear and vice versa.  Anxiety, the act of being anxious, is worrying about a possibility of something happening and preparing for it.  Fear is being in the moment and having right here, right now fight or flight feelings.  Anxiety does serve it’s purpose though, that needs to be reiterated, because simply put, it does allow us to prepare for whatever it is that we are anxious about in the event that it does happen.

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