Emotional Recovery Module 2
More on being Honest and Open
I use these tools, skills, and principles today in my work with Options for Southern Oregon, (our local mental health agency), and in Corrections at Josephine County.
After reading about the importance of being honest, before one can start a recovery process, what do you think honesty means now? Yes it is all about admitting you have a problem; it's also about telling the truth and not lying to yourself that everything is okay when it isn't. But as I say to my clients, the answer is everything we just said plus way more.
Here is our new definition of honesty to assist one in making healthier life changes. Honesty means to refuse to do anything to harm yourself no matter what happens. Can you see how this puts a new twist on this concept? Also recognize the no-matter-what process. That means despite hardships, disappointments, losses, and stress, failures, we are not going to hurt ourselves on purpose anymore. Let's explore this further.
First, take a look at the things you do, feel, or think that might be harmful to you in the long run. The list is as long as you want to make it: overeating, overspending, overworking, promiscuity, people pleasing, codependent relationships, violence, isolation, antisocial activity, suicidal ideations, homicidal ideations, abuse, neglect; and obsessive thinking, depression, anger, fears, or anxiety. If I didn't hit your issue, feel free to acknowledge it now.
Second, select the problem or challenge you want to work on. Write down or discuss with somebody you trust how this particular concern causes you harm in your life.
For example, if overeating is the problem, take an honest look at how being overweight can effect your physical health, emotional health, your personal relationships, social activities, financial issues, and other areas of quality living. You can do the same for obsessive thinking, depression, anger, fear, anxiety, and guilt/shame.
Third, resist the urge to avoid, minimize, or deny the seriousness of the consequences of your personal challenge. This is easier said then done right? You see, I believe there is a part of us that resists change; I call this the dark secret. We also have a positive side that lets us know that we are entitled to a better life. The Emotional Recovery Card (ERC) is all about learning how to control our negative side.
For example, let's take on the challenge of depression. This can be a mental health problem. We know that a person with mental health conditions can gain relief with psychiatric medications. We also know that medications by themselves don't necessarily cure the problem.
There still is individual responsibility to learn how to manage the life stressors that contribute to the depression. Begin to admit that depression can detract on many levels from one's quality of life; i.e., oversleeping, not eating properly, isolation, lack of energy, suicidal thoughts and attempts.
For now, just affirm over and over: "I refuse to hurt myself anymore with negative thoughts, feelings or behavior no matter what, including depression, anger, anxiety and guilt." Say this out loud; write it down. Don't debate it; just try it out. That's what we mean about the importance of taking positive action in this section of the book. Of course there is much more to the ERC.
So, if "honesty" is about refusing to hurt yourself and accepting that we have a negative side, what do you suppose "openness" means? Yes, it is about sharing your thoughts and feelings with others. It also refers to your commitment to learn how to control the negative side and make improvements in your life. As I said before, it is everything we just said and more.
The key to openness is a willingness to believe in a new value system. The value system begins with how you will utilize your feelings and thoughts to start taking better care of yourself. It is basically summed up in this new affirmation: "I deserve to have a better life today" Now, does that make sense or not?
Some people don't care about themselves at all. If this is your case, get some help to start strengthening your positive side from a life coach or counselor. If you do ultimately value yourself, then you must ask the question: "Why do I keep engaging in habits or behaviors that are harmful to me?" The answer is not any more complicated than accepting that we all have a negative side which can become self-destructive.
I do not know why a part of us keeps us going on a track that will produce mental and physical suffering. There is much mystery to life; some things we will never understand. I have come to realize better the purpose of this negative side over the course of my more than 30 years of experience working as a social worker. Our negative side apparently is designed to cause us pain, suffering, and an early death. What do you think?
Regardless how you feel right now, take positive action. Just keep affirming over and over: "I deserve to have a better life today." Let the power of hope flow into your mind and heart. Change is possible when you try to be more honest and open with your life.
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- Emotional Recovery Module 3
It is hard to stop and think. Our negative side, I believe, encourages us to keep doing what we are doing; don't think about the consequences; just do what you need to do to feel better right now. Our most...