Refraining From Taking the Weight of the World Onto My Shoulders

It has taken me most of my life to realize that the problems of others, the problems of the world, the problems of problems of problems past, are not necessarily mine to carry every day on stooped shoulders.  Part of getting healthier with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), is setting boundaries.

Ok, it’s not just part of it, it is CENTERED around making healthy boundaries with the people you come into contact every day, with people you don’t even know, with the world.  I have realized over the last year of DBT that, in some of my personal relationships, I would personally take on the weight that is on others’ shoulders and make it my own.

Not only is this completely unnecessary, it is damaging to the relationship and to the other person, as well as (hello!!) damaging to the self.  If I have a friend who is struggling, it does neither of us any good if I spend mass amounts of time worrying about how to “fix” that person’s problem.  Chances are, that person doesn’t even WANT me to “fix” the problem, she just needs an ear.

Very rarely in life should we take on others’ problems as our own and go about “fixing.”  For one thing, my “fix” to your problem, maybe be a “fix” that you can’t tolerate or can’t sustain in the long run.  What I have learned is that, while it is fine to give advice from time to time (depending on the subject matter and how close you are to said person, to name a few restrictions), what is much more important is building that other person up, regardless of what exactly they are going through, and letting that person know that you support them and that you believe that things CAN get better, and perhaps most importantly, that things are not necessarily their fault or that they are not a “bad person” because things are going a certain way.

People need validation, reassurance, a kind word, a loving touch — not for you to solve their personal crises, or even necessarily to make suggestions as to how THEY might going about solving their personal crises.  It is very important to practice nonjudgmental stance with peers, family, romantic mates, nearly everyone.  You might be thinking in your head, “how did this idjit get into this pickle?” but of course, you saying that out loud is going to help no one.

Image result for heart that listens

And if you think that over and over in your head, and judge a person’s actions or inactions about a particular matter, all sorts of gross and inappropriate judgements may sow themselves into your brain, and that will make supporting this person all the more difficult.  It is only very recently that I had an instance where I thought I was “helping” someone with their problem, and it turned out that they very much resented my advice and insight into the subject.

I thought by giving advice as to what  would do in a situation would somehow fit their somewhat similar situation, but people are different, inside, and out, and MY solutions would not in any way work for the other person as solutions..  People are simply too different.  This is when I realized that, what I needed to do, rather than give direct advice about a situation, was to keep my opinions to myself and be there for the person only in a validating matter.  Validate the other person’s feelings and fears, help them to feel not alone (but not by bringing up my own somewhat similar issue), and most important, to stop judging how the other person was handling the situation and to turn the mind toward loving kindness and away from judgment.

In the end, my cessation of giving this person concrete advice and stopping voicing judgement likely saved the relationship.  Things will not always be so clear, circumstances will not always be so dire, repercussions not always so large.  I am not in any way saying to never, ever give advice to another person about something (granted, as long as you know your correct facts) they are going through, but what I am saying is that most people, myself included, benefit more from having another person to validate, listen, provide a shoulder than from being directed on what it is exactly they should do next to handle the situation.  Building people up instead of tearing them down takes conscious thought and hard work, but is very worth it, for all parties, in the end.

Chronic illness and the right way to respond:



Accepting “Not Quite Good Enough”

Oh, I had such plans for yesterday, but as I blogged about procrastination, it became all too clear that I simply wasn’t going to get done everything I had planned.  And I didn’t.  And it wasn’t quite good enough, I, personally wasn’t quite “good enough.”

I sat stuck in this idea for a good bit.  I tried music, meditation, and tried to validate myself that I did get quite a bit done.  “But not everything,” I kept reminding myself.  DSB came in and commented on how much I had accomplished.  That whisper in my head still ever-present, “But not quite good enough.”

And I fed that whisper with my continued self-doubt, self-loathing.  I fed him until he filled up the room and squeezed the air from my lungs.  I fed him until he was all I could see in front of me.  “You, Rose, are not quite good enough.”

It took the better part of the evening, a PRN Klonopin, some journaling, and a lot of self-introspection before I could start to put off that whisper.  To tell that whisper to go right back to the hell it came from.  In days and years past, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.

What did I do to get this whisper out of my head?  I wrote a “done” list.  Instead of looking at my to-do list and bemoaning the fact that not everything was crossed off, I pulled out a separate sheet of paper and wrote down every little thing that I had accomplished that day.  And it turned out to be quite a lot.

I talked to QoB and the Big Dawg and told them I was going to continue with group, but would make myself available to work on Fridays.  They insisted that I go to group all three days, and that was such a big relief.  We are getting to a slower point in the season, so it isn’t really necessary to have two people there all day.  The Big Dawg will still get to leave early, regardless of if I am there or not.  The Wonder Boy will still work his same hours whether I’m there or not.  It works out overall.

I am really excited about continuing group.  It is good for me in a lot of ways and I can see real improvement in some areas of my life, and hope to see that improvement extend to other areas in days to come.  I am thankful that Big Dawg and QoB were so supportive in letting me continue, and DSB is supportive of it, as well.

Sometimes I get this feeling that it really IS gonna be ok, without those words coming from someone else’s mouth.  This is a feeling that is rising within me, coming straight from me.  And sometimes I chant it to myself…gonna be ok…gonna be ok…gonna be ok.  Whatever it takes, right?

Finding Relief in Words

I think it’s time to name the new therapist.  I went from hating her, feeling like she was uncaring and unhelpful, to feeling like I might be able to trust her with the most secret of secrets, to feeling like she was really listening and understanding, to feeling like she was empathetic and even kind.

I hereby christen the new therapist as “Cognitive Distortion Whisperer.”  Okay, that’s a mouthful, so I think I’ll just call her CG Whisperer.  I like it, I think.  Within the first four sessions, CG Whisperer pointed out things to me that I had not given serious consideration to before.

She let me know that previous relationships sometimes dictate current ones.  That my fears of abandonment and tendency to enmesh with others around me began early in life and were compounded by negative reinforcing experiences over the course of my 32 years.  She told me this was okay, and even to be expected, and that I should not be ashamed.  She made me feel validated, even “normal,”  in a way that I have not felt in a very long time.

We talked about my traumatic experiences with using the shower, and how more negative experiences and reinforcing events brought it to the tipping point it is at now.  To be frank, I shower once, maybe twice per week.  Yes, I know that is gross.  No, it is not as simple as just getting up and doing it.  I am learning more and more about this problem, and I believe that within months, maybe even several weeks, that I will have the problem at least somewhat conquered.

CG Whisperer and I talked about my relationship and how it is positive in many ways.  Overall, we are very happy together.  We have been together for coming on a year and a half and, in a lot of ways, it’s like it was when we first got together and we could lose track of hours worth of times, just talking.  In other ways, it’s like we’ve been together for much longer in that we have been through more trials and tribulations than many young relationships and have persevered.  Yes, we still fight sometimes, but it’s rare and short-lived.

We talked about the “enmeshment” issue and there were parts of that discussion that really hurt.  I was made to think about early life experiences that were disheartening and even mildly traumatic, leading through to later life experiences that were more soul-crushing and extremely traumatic.  The more I make sense of why I struggle with boundaries, enmeshment, and fear of abandonment, the more I feel like I might someday be able to rise above it.