Not So Grand Illusions

lotus1
So many of us are afraid of thinking too highly of ourselves or appearing prideful, but what about always assuming the worst. When we lack self-compassion and continually judge ourselves it becomes easier to do the same to others. It is almost impossible to judge only yourself harshly. Unfortunately judgement and negativity becomes a viscous cycle that can be hard to break. So how do we let go of negative self perceptions without swinging to the other side of the spectrum? Tuning into the truth as it is right now in the present moment………..Ok, easier said than done. Personally I have found that cultivating the skill of acceptance has been extremely helpful. When I first starting learning about 3rd Wave CBT (Mindfulness and Acceptance based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) I was really turned off by the concept of acceptance. It sounded too much like resignation or just plain giving up. Luckily I investigated further and discovered something more subtle and gentle. Acceptance is about being honest with ourselves and acknowledging our truthful feelings, possible biases, and basic desires. Acceptance is the opposite of resistance. When practiced with awareness and an open mind, acceptance can teach us a lot about ourselves and the world around us.

For example, I was recently speaking with some friends about the conclusions we jump to when we don’t get an expected response from a person we know well. It is easy to assume that someone didn’t laugh at our joke because they are mad at us or we just aren’t funny. Usually the reason has less to do with us. A usually jovial friend who doesn’t laugh is probably distracted by a task, received somber news or just is not having a good day. When we engage in acceptance we keep our mind open to current information and not succumb to making assumptions. There are assumptions that seem to be common to many of us. These are often referred to as cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are basic PSYC 101, but I never quit finding value in revisiting them.

The below list of cognitive distortions was retrieved from healthymind.com:

  1. All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
  1. Overgeneralization: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  1. Mental filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
  1. Disqualifying the positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  1. Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
    • Mind reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and don’t bother to check it out.
    • The Fortune Teller Error: You anticipate that things will turn out badly and feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
  1. Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
  1. Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
  1. Should statements: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  1. Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a damn louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  1. Personalization: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible.

From: Burns, David D., MD. 1989. The Feeling Good Handbook. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Advertisements

Interpretations

through-the-looking-glass-2

“Anything that you resent and strongly react to in another is also in you.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”

~Pema Chodron

“I am not crazy, my reality is just different than yours.”

~Lewis Carroll

Not So Grand Illusions

So many of us are afraid of thinking too highly of ourselves or appearing prideful, but what about always assuming the worst.  When we lack self-compassion and continually judge ourselves it becomes easier to do the same to others.  It is almost impossible to judge only yourself harshly.  Unfortunately judgement and negativity becomes a viscous cycle that can be hard to break. So how do we let go of negative self perceptions without swinging to the other side of the spectrum?  Tuning into the truth as it is right now in the present moment………..Ok, easier said than done.  Personally I have found that cultivating the skill of acceptance has been extremely helpful.  When I first starting learning about 3rd Wave CBT (Mindfulness and Acceptance based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) I was really turned off by the concept of acceptance.  It sounded too much like resignation or just plain giving up.  Luckily I investigated further and discovered something more subtle and gentle.  Acceptance is about being honest with ourselves and acknowledging our truthful feelings, possible biases, and basic desires.  Acceptance is the opposite of resistance.  When practiced with awareness and an open mind, acceptance can teach us a lot about ourselves and the world around us.

For example, I was recently speaking with some friends about the conclusions we jump to when we don’t get an expected response from a person we know well.  It is easy to assume that someone didn’t laugh at our joke because they are mad at us or we just aren’t funny.  Usually the reason has less to do with us.  A usually jovial friend who doesn’t laugh is probably distracted by a task, received somber news or just is not having a good day.  When  we engage in acceptance we keep our mind open to current information and not succumb to making assumptions.  There are assumptions that seem to be common to many of us.  These are often referred to as cognitive distortions.  Cognitive distortions are basic PSYC 101, but I never quit finding value in revisiting them.

The below list of cognitive distortions was retrieved from healthymind.com:

  1. All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
  1. Overgeneralization: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  1. Mental filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
  1. Disqualifying the positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  1. Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
    • Mind reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and don’t bother to check it out.
    • The Fortune Teller Error: You anticipate that things will turn out badly and feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
  1. Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
  1. Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
  1. Should statements: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  1. Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a damn louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  1. Personalization: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible.

From: Burns, David D., MD. 1989. The Feeling Good Handbook. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Published in: on April 26, 2012 at 12:46 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

How many therapies do you see?

  1. Yoga – ‘legs up the wall’
  2. Full spectrum light therapy
  3. Pet therapy
  4. Meditation
  5. Positive Ion air purification
  6. Pranayama – deep breathing, breath awareness

The perfect way to start the day!

NAMI Walk brings out hundreds for mental illness awareness

Video & Article Link: <a href=”http://www.ktvb.com/news/local/NAMI-Walk-brings-out-hundreds-for-mental-illness-awareness-130915483.html

Article by Justin Corr can be found on it’s original website at the above link.

Below I have included just a few excerpts from the article.

BOISE — Eight hundred people gathered in downtown Boise Saturday morning to bring more awareness to a problem that affects Idahoans, their families, and their communities. It’s a problem they said is often misunderstood.
Angela Bryson has had her own battles with bipolar disorder, but was helped through by NAMI. “Externally, they might be putting on a good show, but if you’re sensing something is not quite right, and you can be of some help, definitely, stepping forward can change somebody’s life,” Bryson said.
“Whatever someone needs to feel better, that’s what they should do,” says Campbell. “Talk about it, get the help they need, and their recovery is very, very possible and very hopeful.”
As the biggest ever NAMI Walk came to a close, organizers hoped that awareness of mental illness, and the importance of treating it, will only grow.   If you’re looking for more information on NAMI, click here.

NAMI Walk

Tomorrow morning I will be rising earlier than usual to join others in the NAMI Walk.  Not much will get me out of bed before 10:00am on a Saturday (or any day :)) but joining with others to show solidarity and fight stigma is well worth it.

Photo courtesy of NAMI

I will be walking with the Region IV Stigma Stompers and would love to have you join us.  Even if you can’t join us you may consider making an online donation.  Below you will find all of the information you may need or you can visit the NAMI Walk website directly www.nami.org/walk

NAMI Boise

NAMIWalks, Changing Minds … One Step at a Time, celebrates hope! NAMIWalks’ momentum is unstoppable! NAMIWalks brings together 750 participants walking shoulder to shoulder in support of children and adults living with mental illnesses and their families.

We are pleased to announce that Blue Cross of Idaho will be providing free depression screenings, and the Saint Alphonsus mobile mammography unit and Lion’s Mobile Screening Unit will both be at our walksite offering free screenings beginning at 9:00 a.m. and continuing until 12:00 noon. Please bring your used glasses, glass cases, and hearing aids for donation to the Lion’s Sight & Screening Foundation.

On October 1st, take your first step along with 749 others to raise the public’s awareness of mental illness and break down the stigma surrounding it.

Happenings at Albertsons/SUPERVALU headquarters–With a festival atmosphere, the walk site at 250 East Parkcenter Boulevard will feature Mac Daddy’s Mobile Music and free food and water. Create signs and get your face painted in the kid’s tent. The Speedy Foundation will kick-off the walk!

The proceeds of NAMIWalks will be used to: 1) provide free education classes to families in the Treasure Valley; 2) facilitate support groups for people with mental illness and their families; 3) conduct an anti-stigma campaign; 4) advocate for improved education, employment, housing, and community services; and 5) promote resiliency and recovery for children and adults living with mental illnesses.

Walk with us on October 1, 2011, and Change Minds … One Step at a Time.

Please Mail Matching Gifts and Offline Donations To:NAMI-Boise
4696 W. Overland Rd., Ste. 274
Boise, ID 83705
Location: Start at 250 Parkcenter Blvd.
Boise, ID
Date: October 1, 2011
Distance: 1, 3, 5 K
Check-in: 9:00 am
Start Time: 10:00 am

For more information about this event, please contact:

Carla Young, NAMI-Boise Walk Manager
namiwalksboise@gmail.com
Phone: (208) 376-4304
FAX: (208) 376-9029

Published in: on September 30, 2011 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Ebb and Flow….Just the Begining

The ebb and flow of life is intrinsic in nature.  Somehow, though, the strength and turbulence of this flow always takes me by surprise.  Logically I know that no where within this flow can time stand still and therefore the only real constant is change.  But there are times when this impermanence is less than comforting, even when the present moment is distressful.

What I am trying to elude to is the internal experience of fear and anxiety.  Most, if not all, of us have experienced fear and anxiety at some point in our life.  I am particularly referring to that state of being where our current circumstances have us feeling distressed, but the fear of the unknown has us attached to the past.  This attachment ruts it’s way into our habitual cognitive patterns and can grow in strength.  At this point are our own thoughts in our best interest?  If not what can we do about it and how can we safe gaurd ourselves against negative cognitive patterns?

Share your ideas, thoughts or experiences.  In future posts I plan to discuss how yoga philosophy can help us avoid negative cognitive patterns and help us break them once we have already fallen into their trap.

Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The Sick Politics of Health

In a country with wealth beyond most people’s dreams, it is a crime that so many people are sick and without healthcare.  I don’t even know where to start to explain how upset this makes me.  To make things worse the less power you have in the society the less likely you are to have the care you need.  This means the individuals that need care the most are the least likely to get it.   This includes children, the mentally ill, the developmentally disabled, the chronically ill, those with learning disabilities, drug addictions, physical disabilities and the elderly. Not to mention the socioeconomic division between wealth and poverty. The list goes on long enough to make one realize that we are not talking about a minority of people, but instead a majority. Please do what you can to be informed and to advocate for access to health for everyone.

Below you find an overview of some related articles, overviews supplied by Mental Health in the Headlines which is a weekly newsletter produced by Mental Health America:

Services Facing Cuts despite Rise in Number of Beneficiaries: States are cutting Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals, limiting benefits for Medicaid recipients, reducing the scope of covered services, requiring beneficiaries to pay larger co-payments and expanding the use of managed care. The moves come as $90 billion in extra funds originally authorized in stimulus legislation will run out in July. At the same time, the number of beneficiaries is higher now than when Congress approved the aid. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that federal Medicaid spending will decline in 2012 for only the second time in the 46-year history of the program. The cuts are likely to increase costs in other parts of the health care system. Doctors will be less likely to accept Medicaid patients if they receive lower payments, which will cause people to turn to hospital emergency rooms for care. Hospitals and other health care providers often try to make up for the loss of Medicaid revenue by increasing charges to other patients, including those with private insurance, experts say. (The New York Times, 6/15/11)

Better Medicaid Coordination Would Cut Costs: Health policy experts say one of the best ways to reduce costs for Medicaid without sacrificing care would be better care coordination for “dual eligibles.” These are the people who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid because they require hospital and long-term care. Although they represent only 15 percent of Medicaid’s beneficiaries, they account for 40 percent of the program’s spending. If their cases were coordinated better, costs would be reduced and people would be healthier. But enacting better care coordination can be difficult. (The Washington Post, 6/16/11)

Children on Medicaid More Likely to Wait for Care: Children on Medicaid are much more likely than kids with private health insurance to be denied appointments with medical specialists and wait longer on average to be seen, according to a new study.  Research assistants posing as mothers of sick children called to make appointments for specialty care at 273 clinics in Cook County, Illinois, one month apart. In one call, they told the clinic they had public insurance. In the other, they said they were privately insured. Two-thirds of fictitious Medicaid patients were denied appointments compared to 11 percent of privately insured patients, researchers reported in New England Journal of Medicine. In 89 clinics that accepted both types of insurance, children with public insurance also waited 22 days longer on average for an appointment with a specialist. And in more than half of the phone calls, the caller was asked what kind of insurance their child had before an appointment could be scheduled. Low reimbursement rates, payment delays and hassles associated with the payment process were cited by the study’s authors as likely reasons for doctors’ reluctance to see Medicaid patients. (The New York Times, 6/15/11)

Published in: on June 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Visions of apps are swimming in my head!

I am a self professed technophobe, but I have to confess that I am quickly recovering.  When faced with learning how to use a new computer, program or phone I have been know to get hives.  About five years ago I realized that no matter how hard I tried technology was going to be all around me.  I decided to begin to ‘make nice’ and figure out ways that technology could serve me rather than unnerve me.

I didn’t own a computer, but decided Match.com might be fun. Well, long story short…I met my husband, Stu, after only two months.  We just celebrated our third year wedding anniversary and I think he is the most amazing person I have ever met.  Stu works remotely from home so of course he didn’t understand how I survived without a personal computer. It didn’t take long before my lap was getting cooked by the tiniest laptop Dell makes.

This is where the snowball really started growing…I started a Facebook page, built my website, began my blog, discovered Twitter…oh my, I figured I was cured.  Somehow, though, smartphones and Kindles still weird-ed me out. Four days ago I took a step into another realm and bought an iPhone 4G!  It is the coolest gadget ever.  It can do almost anything and I was still able to figure out how to use everything my old phone did in less than an hour.

Now the real point of telling all of you about my experience is that I have discovered some amazing apps that can really help a person gain deeper awareness.  Seems counter-intuitive that a micro machine could connect us better with our inner environment, but I believe it might.  Below you will find a list of the kinds of apps I am talking about.  I have also included some links for you Android lovers.

  1. Mood charting apps that allow you to quickly record mood-triggers and self-care.  In seconds you can record your current emotions, stress level, hours sleep, naps, exercise, medications and so much more.  Then you can hit one button to look at a simple line graph of all your information.  It even allows you to send this information to your doctor via email.  Examples can be found at: http://www.findingoptimism.com/home.html
  2. Meditation timers galore to choose from. Examples can be found at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/meditation-timer/id289187420?mt=8
  3. A mantra app that allows you to pick from about a hundred mantras or chants and listen to recordings.  Examples can be found at: http://www.freeware4android.net/sony-ericsson-xperia-x8-x8i-se-shakira-device-1641/buddha-voice-download-34202.html
  4. A pranayama (breathing exercise) app that is really quite amazing.  It is particularly helpful for equal-ratio breathing or facilitating a deeper, slower breath.  Somehow while watching the little ‘pie-chart’ image move about & direct when to inhale and exhale it seems almost impossible to not have your breath sync up with it.  It works the same way that watching the waves crash in at the beach or the swinging pendulum of a grandfather clock influences our heart rate and breath. Examples can be found at:  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/health-through-breath-pranayama/id341935130?mt=8
  5. Yoga apps that will help you build sequences or recommend postures for specific needs.  Examples can be found at: http://www.appolicious.com/articles/1661-the-best-yoga-apps-a-comprehensive-review
  6. Nutrition apps…http://androlicious.com/details/com.saagara.organicdietbuddy

I could list even more, but I just wanted to encourage you to take a look at ways to make your technology work for you and not the other way around.  Happy hunting and I hope to see you out in the real world.

 

Published in: on June 21, 2011 at 1:55 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

If You Love Someone with Mental Illness

I have found one thing more challenging than having a mental illness….knowing how to help those I love who have a mental illness.  I know what has helped me and know what my studies have taught me, but the true test comes in implementation.  It has taken my lifetime to find just the right formula of self-care, medications and help from others that allows me to live nearly free from symptoms.  I have felt so empowered by this experience that I want to help everyone find freedom from their pain.  Unfortunately, it is not an easy task.  Every person with mental illness experiences their diagnosis differently and each individual will have to find their own path to wellness.  There are powerful tools, skills, techniques, medications, and therapies (the list goes on) that can all give a person some relief.  Most likely, though, it will be a combination of many things that will provide long-term quality of life.  This means a lot of trial and error and a lot of faith that someday the right combination will be found.

Needless to say this process asks a lot from a person who is already suffering, not to mention the toll on family and friends.  But to get to my point, if you love someone with mental illness please be loving and gentle.  They are already hurting.  Their internal world is at war with itself and they can not escape it.  They are not trying to get attention other than to ask for help in the only way they know possible.  The reality they are struggling with is very real to them whether or not you understand it.  Above all have patience, give them respect and be compassionate.

For more tips on how to be the best support possible check out the link below:

blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2011/05/5-tips-if-you-love-someone-

Published in: on June 10, 2011 at 4:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,