Saying Goodbye

I am hurt I am shaken, I feel so mistaken.
  You left me in the dust and took with you all my trust.
  I feel abandoned; I can barely stand it.  The thought of us brings me to tears, never did I think I could feel this way, not in a million years. 
I like to think that you feel this way too, but obviously your tears because of us are few.
  I hate seeing you with someone else!  You should be with me, don’t you see?
  When I do see you, I get confused, I don’t know why but I just feel used. 
I’m sorry I don’t know what else to say, I really wish it wasn’t this way.
  I would like to express to you the way I feel and hope you know it is real.
  I’m scared though; I really don’t want you to go! 
I don’t want to hurt anymore; the pain goes from my heart to my core. 
I’m sorry if I was wrong, I’m sorry if for you I wasn’t strong.
  But I know that I will always cherish our past and will always wish that it did last.
Now I guess to that thought I need to say goodbye, no matter how much it hurts and I wonder why. 
I’m sorry if I make you sad, I’ll be happy for you and am not mad.
  I had to get this off my chest, though, my feelings I needed to show.
Now I guess I have to go..

(Saying Goodbye is a poem by Justin Heupel) (Photo by Mantas Hesthaven)

Avoid Cognitive Distortions (“Labeling” & “Personalization”)

What are cognitive distortions?  Cognitive distortions can be considered slips in our thinking that we all make at times. They are a derivative of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  The main premise behind them is that your thoughts have an enormous impact on your emotions and the way you are feeling.  So, if you are feeling terrible, there is a big chance that you are thinking in an unhelpful way.  These unhelpful thinking styles cause us to jump to incorrect conclusions, make false assumptions, and much more.

Ten main cognitive distortions cause us to feel bad about ourselves, others, and situations/circumstances.  So far, the cognitive distortions all or nothing,” “mental filtering,”disqualifying the positive,” “jumping to conclusions”, “emotional reasoning”, “overly rigid rule-keeping” , “catastrophizing”  and “overgeneralizing” have been addressedDuring this blog post, the cognitive distortions “labeling”  and “personalization” will be presented, along with a way to overcome and avoid using these unhealthy thinking styles.

Labeling occurs when we assign “labels” to ourselves, others, and situations during specific circumstances.  When we do this, we are defining what we are labeling by a particular circumstance and are not considering other positive characteristics and circumstances.  For example, you might label yourself as  “inadequate” because you were unable to do one thing successfully.  In this example, you define yourself based on one situation and fail to consider all of the other things you can do quite adequately. Or, consider you hear someone say something that you do not agree with and assign them the label of “stupid.”  In this example, although you might not agree with what the person has said, you fail to consider that they may have other thoughts or opinions that you could very well agree with.  (I agree that people can do some “stupid” things, but labeling them “stupid” based on a particular situation is not fair). 

There are several actions we can take to avoid this unhealthy thinking style.  First, we can accept that we, others, and situations are complex and continuously changing.  One action or circumstance does not typically define a person or a situation.  Second, we can consider the evidence that does not fit the labels we have assigned.  Maybe our assessment of the situation is correct in this instance, but is it correct in every instance?  Finally, we can celebrate the complexities and uniqueness of all individuals, including ourselves.  Everyone is unique, ever-changing, and multi-faceted.  Labeling ourselves, others, and situations based on a particular circumstance is an extreme version of overgeneralizing.  One bad act or circumstance does not necessarily equate to a bad person or situation. 

Personalization occurs when we take the blame for everything that goes wrong around us.  We do this whether we are responsible for the outcome or not.  Specifically, this type of unhealthy thinking style includes believing that we are responsible for things outside of our control.  Although taking responsibility for our lives and our circumstances is admirable, it becomes unhelpful if it ends in us feeling like a victim of circumstance.

Personalizing everything in this way often leads to feeling a sense of shame or guilt about things that we have no control over.  For example, consider that you have a friend in recovery that hasn’t been listening to suggestions or taking their sobriety seriously.  Eventually, they relapse, and you feel guilty for “not doing enough.”  In this example, it is important to realize that you are not responsible for the things you do not have control of.  Although it is important to support your friend, realizing that their decisions are out of your control. 

Personalization can also stem from a sense of insecurity or anxiety.  This type of personalization occurs when we constantly make things about us when they may not be.  For example, consider walking into a meeting where everyone is laughing.  You automatically think that they are laughing at you when, in reality, someone had just told a joke before you walked in. 

There are several questions we can ask ourselves to combat this type of unhealthy thinking style.  By doing this, we can reflect on why it is that we think this way.  Why do I feel responsible for things that I cannot control?  Is this really about me? Am I holding myself to standards that are impossible to meet?  We can also check the facts in these situations.  Do I have control of my friend’s behavior?  Is it a fact that everyone is laughing at me?  Are there other variables and possibilities for other people’s behavior?  Today you can avoid cognitive distortions (“labeling” & “personalization”)!

(Photo by Tim J.)

 

Unconditional Positive Regard

Unconditional positive regard: the act of loving without a charge.
A commitment to see past a person’s mistakes & be there with them no matter what it takes!
To know they may have been wrong, but for them to stay strong.
Realizing that we can’t be perfect & when there are struggles, fighting is not worth it.
Wanting the best for a person and settling for nothing less.
Understanding what is right and not letting you give up without a fight!
Believing in you when you feel like life is through!
Forgiving, no matter how wrong, and still being able to stay strong.
This characteristic is hard to find, and a person with it is one of a kind!
So if you are lucky enough to come across someone this loving, never let them go…
I won’t, I KNOW!

Unconditional Positive Regard is a poem by Justin Heupel
(Photo by Mark Adriane )

Water

Can I be more like water?  Flow-through life drifting over things and people who do not matter.
Can I quench another’s thirst?  Can I slow my flow when a person’s dam is about to burst?
Can I provide others refreshment when all they feel is resentment?
When it is time to grow, can I provide nourishment and let good intentions show?
When people are feeling weary, can I provide distraction or entertainment to help them see life’s intentions clearly?
All I can do is try and do these things like water.  In the end, it is all that will matter.

Water is a poem by Justin Heupel (Photo by Didin Emelu )

Life

When you should be dead by rights and death is in your sights.
When you wake up from a coma and you still smell death’s aroma
When you can’t eat, and it hurts to speak, and comfort is all you seek.
When you can’t walk, and people can’t understand you when you talk.
You can’t drink, you can barely think, and every color looks pink.
When you lose fifty pounds and don’t understand certain sounds.
When you are weak, and your future looks bleak.
When you can barely lift a pound, and a wheelchair is your only way around.
When you can’t write, and people tear up at your sight.
When you don’t have control, and you feel all alone.
When your passion is taken, and you feel mistaken.
Then you see life in a different way, you thank God for every day.
Your thoughts grow deep, and you are thankful for sleep.
You are thankful for every meal and are grateful to be able to feel.
You think before you speak and wisdom is what you seek.
You try to make people smile and help them through any trial.
You are happy to be alive, and for great things, you strive.
You appreciate the little things in life, and that brings you less strife.
You appreciate your family more, and you don’t mind being a little sore.
Happy you will be, be patient, you will see!
If you let it, life will be great. Just wait! Do your best and God will take care of the rest.

(Life is a poem by Justin Heupel) (Photo by Greg Rakozy )

Patiently Probing Possibilities

Patience is a virtue, laziness, a sin.  We all harbor each within.
  It is said that those who work hard will be rewarded, and the efforts of the lazy will be thwarted. 
Myself?  I am trying to find that fine line, where strength and patience align.
  I work for things I love, at times patiently seeking guidance from above. 
Other times, however, I tend to think I am more clever and end up doing whatever. 
At this point, I tend to wonder, why is it that I fail?  For my coffin, is it just one more nail? 
It could be, but what if that’s not the case?  What if all of my inpatient decisions are just a waste, to be filed in the garbage and erased. 
  Where would that leave me, though?  Isn’t there something from my mistakes I can show? 
Maybe not, but from them, I can learn a lot!  So that is what I will try to do, after all, no one is perfect, even you!

(Patiently Probing Possibilities is a poem by Justin Heupel) (Photo by Holger Link )