Quote of the Day (August 30, 2018): Cultivating Mindfulness

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

I had another session of dialectical behavior therapy with my nurse practitioner today. In it, we discussed the skill of participation, which essentially boils down to doing something with attention without constantly being aware of the fact that you’re doing it. This seems pretty contradictory to me, because how do you do something mindfully without constantly being aware of it?

In this repsect, this quote speaks to me. It describes mindfulness as a way of knowing what we’re doing and paying attention to it.

It also seems that this may be what Pete Walker means when he describes the flight-freeze continuum of healthy relating to self in his book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. He says that the healthy middle between freeze and flight is the middle between doing and being. Freeze then is the state of constantly dissociating, daydreaming away time, while flight is the state of constant doing stuff, working time away. I tend to fall closer to the freeze end, while other people might lean closer to the flight end. Whenever I’m upset, I retreat into my own world. Someone who is a flight type would more go and do stuff, such as housekeeping, work, etc.

Kabat-Zinn in his quote says that mindfulness means being awake and knowing what we’re doing. It means not mindlessly staying busy to avoid hard feelings (flight), nor means it being disconnected from one’s surroundings (and oneself) to avoid hard feelings (freeze).

Now I seem to understand where the flight-freeze continuum also comes in handy in my DBT skills training. Flight then describes rational mind, not feeling anything because we’re busy doing (work, housekeeping, etc.). Freeze describes emotional mind, being stuck in the inability to do something about our experience. The middle ground in DBT is called Wise Mind.

Quote of the Day (August 9, 2018): Gratitude Unlocks the Fullness of Life

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie

I once read that gratitude is happiness coupled by wonder. It means that we recognize that what we have is not a given. I mean, being able to read a quote on the Internet puts me in the minority worldwide. Even with my disability benefits, which amount to only 75% of minimum wage, I am rich compared to other people in the world. Isn’t that humbling?

Today, I had a rather boring day. Still, there is a lot to be grateful for today if I really look hard. The fact that I slept well and had a lie-in as I didn’t go to day activities. Barry, our cat, meowing me awake in the morning, letting me know he’s still here. He is a true delight. The blueberries I put in my yoghurt with crunchy muesli this morning. My being able to be grateful for that definitely did turn breakfast into a feast.

As I started my day, I was grateful for the two comments I had gotten on my blog while asleep. I also appreciated the tons of E-mails in my inbox. They reminded me of the good friendships I’ve formed particularly on one E-mail list.

I went to have some exercise on the elliptical. Though I was scared by a thunderstorm pretty soon, I still managed twelve minutes of exercise and am going to try for another 30 or so later in the evening. I am grateful for my mobility. I am also trying to be a little grateful for the rain, as nature and the farmers really need it.

My support coordinator arrived at 3PM. We had a cup of coffee and then started making a cheesecake. Gratitude turend that activity into excitement. It was the first time either of us had made a cheesecake.

Later, when my support coordinator had left, I looked up some journaling prompts in some eBooks I had bought yesterday. One of them gave me the reminder that I am blessed. Ordinary things such as the boring day I had today, do not happen to everyone. Besides, they can be turned into extraordinary things with the help of an attitude of gratitude.

Quote of the Day (July 28, 2018): No-One Makes Us Feel Inferior

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”―- Eleanor Roosevelt

This is so beautiful! It pretty much says that you’re yourself responsible for your feelings. NO-one “makes” you feel anything. I won’t go as far as to say we choose our own feelings, but we have remarkable control over our thoughts and our thoughts influence our feelings.

If someone tries to make us feel inferior, it’s our choice to rise above it and see this as something about them, not us. Another person does not define us – we define ourselves.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy owning our feelings. We struggle with this a lot. We are often told we have an external locus of control and that’s probably partly true. In oter wrods, we look to other people or circumstances to “make” us feel good. That’s not how it works and I realize this.

Of course, being a trauma survivor, I do not need to blame myself for having post-traumatic symptoms. A mental illness is not a choice. On the other hand, it’s not my abusers’ or anyone’s responsibility to make me feel better either. In our case, most of the trauma we endured was not intended as abuse. That doesn’t change its effects, of course. It doesn’t mean we don’t suffer and we are allowed to hold the people who hurt us responsible for their actions. But not for our feelings.

This does not mean the trauma we endured is not an explanation for our symptoms. It is. However, it’s not an excuse to wallow in self-pity. Enduring trauma is not a choice. Having post-traumatic symptoms is not a choice. Recovery, however, is a choice.

Quote of the Day (July 26, 2018): The Way to Get Started

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

This sure has to got to be the motto for this blog. And maybe for my healing journey as a whole. I may talk healing, but if I don’t work hard in therapy and such, I’ll not accomplish much.

This also reminds me of a conversation we had a few days ago with our husband. I said I miss talking to him, really connecting to him, like I did when I allowed my alters to be who they are. I thought my husband didn’t want us to be us. This isn’t the case. My husband told me to actually stop talking openness and connection and start opening up. That’s the only way to actually connect. And though that opening up involved talking, it also involved connecting on a deeper, more-than-words-can-say level. We loved it.