David Hawkin's book "Letting Go" is profound beyond any other therapeutic book I've read. I've been re-reading it with my clients and we keep finding new things that provide profound enlightenment to our understanding of emotions. The teachings of this book have helped my clients with addictions to stay sober for longer than ever before because once the emotions are surrendered then you no longer need escapes.
You may be thinking that your emotions are a liability, but what if they are your superpowers?
Satan wants you to hate your emotions because they are actually what make you like God.
What would a mortal experience be like without emotions. You need them. God has mastered them and wants to help you do the same.
The X-men storyline is about young people with mutant abilities that they think of as liabilities until Professor X finds them and suggests that their mutant abilities are actually their super powers!
Prior to meeting Professor X they were ostracized in their schools, families, and community; and persecuted by the government for these abilities that others saw as scary and dangerous.
Yes, your emotions are a little scary and potentially dangerous. The X-men before they viewed their mutant abilities as powers did think of them as something to cover up and hide.
However, the more they tried to cover them up, the more they would explode and get in trouble later.
At Professor X's academy the X-men learned to love their powers (though they sometimes still got in trouble for them) and it helped them create an identity for themselves and save the world.
Your emotions are a super power that helps you save the world one connection at a time. That's right, your emotions are what allow you to connect with other people and God.
I found this article on Facebook and it says what I've been unable to articulate for years now. If you are really mad at someone it's probably because you are projecting your thoughts about yourself on that person.http://www.heartsintrueharmony.com/relationship-bliss/the-surprising-reason-you-become-deeply-upset-with-your-partner.html?s=14773
I've been reading John Sarno's book "Healing Back Pain" and was startled to learn that the epidemic of back pain can be treated in many cases by acknowledging daily our anxieties and anger. I decided to try it on my tendonitis (yes, it works on most chronic pains) and was even more shocked when my tendonitis did go away despite using bad form with heavy weights for bicep curls. No more pain!
I guess anger is more than what I thought. What if anger is actually necessary to acknowledge?
What if anger is actually totally separate from the violence we so often associate with it?
I've been practicing acknowleding it the last few weeks everyday and it feels better. I don't have to act out on it with violence but I can use it to motivate me to do positive things.
Violence is so closely associated with anger that we often use it synonymously.
When we act abusively we may have the belief that a strong emotion entitles us to act violently.
The strong emotion may be anger, sadness, hurt, or fear or even happiness.
Think about it, people often say they hurt someone else because they had one of these emotions.
While teaching my students on Thursday night about generalized anxiety disorder treatment I said that anxiety is not really an emotion. Struggling to explain what it was, I said, "it's more like just a disturbance in emotions."
Yes, a disturbance in the force!
I finally understood Star Wars after watching the first couple episodes this week with my son.
The dark side of the Force is just a disturbance (destroyer) messing with the force.
Anxiety is just something that messes with real emotions like sadness and pain.
Anakin Skywalker eventually became Darth Vader because he didn't overcome his fear (synonymous with anxiety) and worry about his mother.
He didn't take care of his real emotions, he thought he could avoid regulating and processing his true emotions and remain aloof.
You must gain independence before you can gain true interdependence. If you have never been independent, then now is a good time to start.
Often people become codependent when they had a parent they had to care for all their lives, or they were never allowed to take care of themselves without being made to feel guilty about it.
So how do you take on independence? Start taking care of yourself. It's that simple. Blast away that shame about spending time on yourself. You can't take care of your family if you aren't healthy both mentally and physically. Your family will be so much more appreciative of you if you have your "head screwed on right" so you can see what are the real issues in your family. They may complain in the short-term, but long-term they will be glad you did some self-care and gained independence. You are setting a good example for your kids of caring for self. And by becoming independent, you will be helping them ultimately see independence modeled.
You may have some tunnel vision right now because you can't imagine how you could possibly pull away from the current problem without abandoning everybody and being a bad person. Truth is the other people are probably hoping you will step back and get a bigger picture so your anxiety and theirs can go down.
On the other hand, if you are in a relationship where you are trying to pull back and take care of yourself but you keep getting shamed, then tell the other person(s) that you are developmentally reaching a new stage where you want to establish independence. They can accept that or not, but you must take time to care for yourself. That doesn't mean spend tons of money on yourself, just do something you want to do. Go to Hawaii for a couple weeks! or just take a warm bath in the morning after getting the kids off to school.
My friend (another Mormon counselor) and I were talking, and he said that he believes the Lord is creating an "army of healers" for these last days. "I believe that everyone the Lord sends me to counsel is someone that the Lord is preparing to be a healer," he continued.
I loved the concept and after thinking about it decided to see all my clients this same way.
I feel rejuvenated with that belief. I don't have to just help people heal, I can train them to heal others using God's inexhaustible power. I think of myself as an instrument in God's hands and I feel motivated as I see other people as God's instruments too.
Unfortunately, these last days are full of pain, and we need everyone we can get to be a healer. Go plant some flowers with someone (code for stop hiding your gifts and start sharing yourself with others)!
Recently a client reported that she had built walls all around herself on the inside and mostly stayed safe in a tower in her heart. She had been hurt by others ever since she was a small child and now had recently been hurt in her marriage. She wanted to be safe and not get hurt again. She self-described herself as not being good at setting boundaries with other people, so all her walls were within herself. She avoided doing anything that would make others angry and usually tried to make others feel good if they were angry at her.
I pictured her as rapunzel high in a tower safe from anyone really knowing her. How much fun is it being in the tower I asked? I can read the same three books over and over, she said jokingly.
I think the Lord wants you outside planting flowers around your tower and between the walls.
But people will come and step on them and bend my trees and crush my bushes she bewailed.
What's more fun, planting flowers or staying in your tower?
Yes, you will be hurt by other actions, watching them crush flowers hurts, but you can plant more and you can teach them how to help you plant more. Letting them see your sadness will allow them to see the impact, and they will be more willing to learn how to care for you.
In my book "Deployed: Survival Guide for Families at War" I describe many aspects of codepenence or what Bowenian therapists call being not differentiated. I drew several models to depict the unhealthy relationship. I think everyone has need to become more differentiated.
I draw for my clients first an oval with a stick figure inside. The oval represents their independent sphere or domain. Inside of the boundaries of the oval they are responsible for all things independent like eating, hygiene, work, friends, hobbies, sleep and more. A small baby can then be drawn in the stick figures arms to represent the absolute dependence of the baby on the parent for eating, sleep, clothes, and shelter.
Hopefully as an independent being we meet and marry another independent being, but what happens when you unite? Do the circles overlap? If that's what you thought, then you have just become enmeshed. Who is responsible for what now?
If the circles overlap on one another then who is responsible for how much you eat? Can you blame your spouse if you overeat or oversleep or dress poorly? Yes, you could, but it would be an unhealthy codependence.
Both partners would be dependent upon one another emotionally. Emotions should be kept within independent domains. They can be discussed and supported, but only the independent person can actually heal or process his or her own emotions.
Even if I accidentally pushed a person down the stairs and begged their forgiveness I could not heal them. Similarly if someone is emotionally hurt I cannot heal their hurt.
I draw a healthy marriage as two independent ovals inside of a larger oval that expands their domains. Within the larger oval they share childcare, house chores, vacation decisions, bills and money, sex, and many other things.
A critical task for all couples is to differentiate what tasks are individual independent tasks, and which are interdependent tasks that need discussed and negotiated.
Let me know what questions you have about this. I usually go on and on about this model because I like it so much!
Sociopathy, as I understand it, is dangerous in counseling because the person, who lacks a social conscience, adapts to counseling and begins using the counseling lessons to become more manipulative. It has been my unfortunate experience to have counseled several sociopaths. I only realized it recently when I noticed a trend in several couples I had seen over time. In my cases it was only the men in whom I identified the behavior. In the beginning sessions the man openly criticized his wife with blatant hostility, then after weeks of discussing why this is detrimental they stopped criticizing for several weeks and became perfectly compliant.
The wife would then start to feel safe to share things and open up significantly. I would be pleased and declare the relationship improving. Then the man would start criticizing me in subtle and then more blatant ways. Then the man would adopt an attitude of being the victim. Then this is the part where I think the sociopathic behavior appeared because they would introduce to counseling the idea that their wife was abusive and that they could tolerate it no longer. The scary thing is that they would use wording to describe the abuse almost word for word as the wife or I had used to describe his behavior in previous sessions.
As a therapist this is scary because it suggests my useful perspectives could be twisted for ill purposes. I remember being counseled once while at LDSFS that if we identified sociopathy that we should stop counseling because it was contraindicated and could make things worse if counseling continued.