Song Lyric Sunday: How Could Anyone Ever Tell You

As soon as I finished my entry for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, another song came to mind. That song, How Could Anyone Ever Tell You, was written and recorded by Libby Roderic in 1990.  I first heard it at a psychotherapy intensive and have used it in my psychotherapy practice from time to time since then.

The version in this post was recorded by Shaina Noll in 1992. It is part of Shaina’s CD, Songs for the Inner Child. She wrote this about that album.

The inspiration to record this collection of songs came to me one night as I was singing my children to sleep. As I sat rocking my youngest child, I realized that the singing my children found so calming and nourishing could extend beyond their rooms. I was doing inner child work at the time, personally and in my practice as a counselor. I suspected that the experience of being sung to could be deeply healing for many of the adults I knew. I felt instinctively that the songs my husband and I had been singing to our children could be a blessing to a wider audience.

As you listen to the song, imagine it is being sung to you.

Lyrics

How could anyone ever tell you
You were anything less than beautiful
How could anyone ever tell you
You were less than whole
How could anyone fail to notice
That your loving is a miracle
How deeply you’re connected to my Soul…

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Letting Go of Suffering Course: Table of Contents

Even though the Letting Go of Suffering course is over, you will still be able to access the lessons any time you want to. Before long there will also be an icon on the right sidebar of my blog that will lead to this list.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

Lesson 1 The Beginning

Lesson 2 The Beginning (continued)

Lesson 3 What Would Your World be Like If You Didn’t Suffer?

Lesson 4  Why Do I Suffer?

Lesson 5  Why Do I Suffer (continued)

Lesson 6  Using Affirmations To Heal

Lesson 7  Stopping Passive Behavior

Lesson 8  Getting Off the Drama Triangle

Lesson 9  Mistakes

Lesson 10  Failure

Lesson 11  Stopping The Critical Self Talk

Lesson 12  Using Contracts To Heal

Lesson 13  Holding Yourself Accountable

Lesson 14  Making It Bigger

Lesson 15  Changing Your Suffering Profile

Lesson 16  More Tools!

Lesson 17  Lighten Up!

Recovering from Over-Doing

Two years ago, in a The Seeker’s Dungeon prompt, Sreejit asked us to fill in the blank in this sentence: “I am a Recovering _________.” There was no doubt in my mind what my behavior would be. If I was at a 12 Step meeting, I would say: “Hi! I am Karuna, and I am a recovering over-doer.”

As I thought about how I would present this topic, I decided to create a new mental health disorder. My fictitious disorder is called “Being versus Doing Disorder.”

The “Being vs Doing disorder” is on a continuum where the center, a balance between being and doing, is the healthy portion of the continuum. The more someone moves to either end of the continuum, the more likely it is they will have dysfunction in their lives.

When I think of the over-being end of the continuum I think of non-productivity, passivity, and lack of motivation. I don’t know as much about that part of the spectrum since I have almost no personal experience there. I have seen it at work in some of my psychotherapy clients and friends though.

Over-doing has many facets. It commonly begins in childhood when the only or main way to get positive attention from parents is to do impressive things. It also develops when parents criticize their children anytime they are relaxing or are doing things the parents consider nonproductive.

As a result, adults with an over-doing disorder may be seeking validation and praise for what they accomplish. An over-doer is also likely to be a rescuer. As such, they do things they aren’t asked to do and are likely to do things they don’t want to do. In addition, they do more than their share of the work that needs to be done and do things for other people that they could do for themselves. Those with this “disorder’ are likely to over-commit and seem incapable of being still.

Over-doing has been a major characteristic of my adult life. At one point, I was raising two children, working three jobs, doing my personal therapy and studying for a PhD. During my therapy, I realized I didn’t want a PhD, I was just seeking attention from the father, who had disowned me. I stopped my schooling but was still overdoing. Before long, I began to experience extreme exhaustion and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

With CFS, I was in survival mode and it was impossible for me to do as much as I had been doing, although I still tried to. When it began dissipating after five years, I went back to over doing. There is no doubt that a part of me believed it was only acceptable for me to stop if I was sick. Eventually I developed high blood pressure and other physical problems.

I reached a point where I had to cut back on all of my commitments. Nowadays, I am putting my emphasis on doing the things I want to do, and am saying no to many requests. I still have trouble with “simply being” but I no longer am into major over-doing. I hope some day I will be much closer to the center of the being-doing continuum.

At one point, I realized a behavior that really fueled my over-doing disorder was the desire to be “in the know.” That put me in the place of being asked for information that I didn’t want to share, which then created stress, whether I shared it or not. As I continue to slow down, I am finding myself holder of less information. I am loving responding to requests with “I’m not in that loop anymore. You will have to ask someone else.”

I learned many skills during my over-doing years. When friends of mine were in a life and death crises, I stepped in to help immediately. There is a time and place for those skills, but it takes discrimination to use them correctly. In that instance, I have no doubt that my choices were appropriate.

I am very committed to my recovery from over-doing. While I may find myself immersed in the old behaviors from time to time, I don’t think I will ever be drawn so deep into them again. I see what I am doing much sooner and and change course when needed.

In evaluating myself on the scale found in Portia Nelson’s Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters, I find I am in generally in Chapter 4 or 5.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

Every time I walk around an invitation to over-do or avoid putting myself in the situation where I know I am going to be tempted, I consider my choice worthy of celebration! I am truly moving towards a life of balance.

Do you have a “Being vs Doing” disorder? Where do you fall on the continuum? How does it disrupt your life?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

This post was originally published on April 12, 2015

Letting Go of Suffering- Week Seventeen: Lighten Up!

The more we become immersed in suffering, the more difficult it may be to get out of it. Sometimes it may feel as if we are being pulled down into muck. In this course, you have learned many techniques for letting go of suffering. This last lesson will be about consciously working to “Lighten Up!”

One of the ways to lighten up is to do things that will make you laugh. Decades ago, I gave one of my psychotherapy clients a toy frog and encouraged her to carry it around with her when she was suffering. She was irritated with me at the time, but soon thereafter brought clown noses to group and distributed them. She wore hers whenever she realized she was suffering and found that it helped her to lighten her mood. I imagine seeing her also helped lighten the mood of a lot of other people!

Many years ago, I learned a technique from a therapist named Mary Goulding. She instructed us to push our tongues into our cheeks and then talk nonstop about all of the things we were suffering about. When we say those statements that way, they may lead to laughter instead of suffering.

Another way to lighten up is to talk about the problems that are bringing us down in a dramatic and highly exaggerated way. This past December, I was at Amma’s ashram in Amritapuri, India when the the Western residents performed their annual Christmas play. There was a point in that play when an actor portrayed his suffering in a way that resulted in the audience bursting into laughter. To me, the scene and the song that went with it, are a perfect example of this type of lightening up. Listen to the song and see if it might be a useful tool for you to use in the future!

You may also help yourself to lighten by going for a walk, immersing yourself in  nature, going to a movie, reading a book, watching a funny movie, or listening to music.  In the balloons below, write your favorite ways of lightening up.

Every day this week, spend some time practicing ways to lighten your mood. At the end of the day, journal about your experience.

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

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As I mentioned in the beginning, this is the last lesson in the Letting Go of Suffering series. Thanks so much for participating in all or part of it. I hope you find the tools you have learned during the last seventeen weeks helpful in your life journey.

Sometime this week, I will be publishing a post that will provide links to all of the lessons, and will put a widget on the sidebar that will link to that list. I will also be publishing a poll asking some feedback questions.

 

To find all of the lessons in this series click here.

Photo Credits: Pixabay.

Letting Go of Suffering- Week Sixteen: More Tools!

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

During this course you have been introduced to many tools which can aid you in moving out of suffering. In this  chapter, you will have the opportunity to learn how to use seven more tools.

#1

Suffer Box

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Photo Credit: Pixabay
  1. Stand in a cardboard box (or on a pillow).
  2. Suffer out loud, i.e. whine, bitch, moan, pout, etc.  Say anything and everything that comes to your mind.
  3. Exaggerate your feelings and thoughts.
  4. Stick with it until you feel an energy shift (may be 5-10-15-20 minutes).
  5. Step out of the box
  6. Identify one thing you will do to work on the situation you were suffering about.

(The Suffer Box was adapted from the Fuss Box concept, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson, Growing Up Again: Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children.)

#2

Suffer Ring

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia
  1. Pick a ring to be your suffer ring.
  2. Wear it anytime you are suffering.
  3. Check in with yourself several times a day to determine whether or not you should be wearing the ring.

(Suggestion: Keep the ring on your watch band or necklace when you aren’t using it, so you have access to it at all times.)

#3

Distract Yourself

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Photo Credit: Pixabay
  1. Go for a walk, watch a movie, play tennis, talk to a friend (on any topic other than what you are suffering about), listen to music, read a book, exercise, etc.
  2. After the suffery energy has shifted, identify one thing you are going to do to solve the problem that is related to your suffering.

#4

Release Anger

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Photo Credit: Pixabay
  1. Make a written list of all the things you are angry about. I am mad that_____. I am mad that_____. I am mad that _____.
  2. Write a poison pen letter saying all of the negative things you would like to say to the person you are angry with. Be sure to destroy the letter afterwards. This is an opportunity for you to vent. No one should ever see it.
  3. Hit a pillow with your fists or a tennis racket
  4. Stomp your feet.
  5. Twist a towel and let your anger flow into the towel.

#5

Release Fear

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Photo Credit: Pixabay
  1. Make a written list of your scares. I am scared that _____. I am scared that _____. I am scared that _____.
  2. Scream into a pillow.
  3. Call a friend and talk with them about your fear.
  4. Say positive affirmations to yourself
  5. Call someone and ask them for an affirmation.

#6

Do a Clearing

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

If you are feeling distant from someone, or you are aware you have unfinished business with them, then do a clearing. I find the model below to be very helpful.

  1. I feel _________________ (mad, sad or scared)
  2. Because when you _________________________
  3. I think it means ___________________________
  4. What I need from me is ______________________
  5. What I need from you is ______________________

Example 1:

  1. I feel scared
  2. Because when you didn’t acknowledge me when I walked into room
  3. I think it means you are mad at me
  4. What I need from me is to remind myself that I’m okay even if you are upset with me.
  5. What I need from you is to know if you are mad at me, i.e. check out your fantasy

Example 2:

  1. I feel mad
  2. Because when you do things I haven’t asked you to do
  3. I think it means you believe I’m incompetent.
  4. What I need from me is to remind myself that I am competent regardless of what you think.
  5. What I need from you is to know whether you think I am incompetent, i.e. check out your fantasy.

Most often our fantasies are wrong, but if you happen to be right, read what you wrote in the fourth line and focus on that. There may be problems that the two of you need to solve but wait until you are both feeling grounded and ready to work on them.

#7

Sharing Resentments and Appreciations

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  1. Ask a friend to work with you as learn how to share and hear resentments and appreciations.
  2. Share two resentments with your friend and listen to two of hers/his. Focus on events that have occurred recently. The person giving the resentment uses the format “I resent that you ______.” The listener responds “Thank you” or “I hear you.” When you are hearing resentments, remember that you are hearing the other person’s experience. It does not mean that you are “bad” or have done something wrong or that you have to agree with their perception. Do not defend or argue, simply listen.
  3. Share two appreciations with your friend and listen to two of hers/his. Focus on events that have occurred recently. The speaker uses the format “I appreciate that you_____.” The listener responds “Thank you” or “I hear you.”

Examples

I resent that you left the cap off of the toothpaste tube.

I resent that you didn’t put your dishes in the dishwasher.

I appreciate that you gave me a hug when I came home.

I appreciate that you called me today.

[Note: Thanks to Elaine Childs-Gowell, Jean Illsley Clarke, Al Chase, and the other therapists who created and/or revised the 1) clearing and 2) resentment and appreciation models.]

 

Every day this week, use one or two of these tools and then journal about your experience.

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

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See you next Monday for the seventeenth and last lesson.

To find the lessons in this series that have already been published, click here.

Letting Go of Suffering- Week Fifteen: Changing Your Suffering Profile

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Suffering patterns often become rigid. Simply thinking about a topic that has brought you pain in the past, might trigger you into suffery behavior. One technique that may be helpful in breaking those patterns is to change your suffering profile.

In Week 2 of this series, each participant identified their personal suffering profile.  They did that by examining the following areas:

  • The time of day I usually suffer (e.g. morning, afternoon, evening).
  • Where I usually suffer (e.g. home, work, bedroom, basement).
  • The people with whom I usually suffer (e.g. husband, friend, employer).
  • The day of the week I usually suffer (e.g. Saturday, Monday).
  • The messages I usually give myself when I suffer (e.g. Nobody loves me, I can’t do anything right).
  • Where in my body I usually feel my suffering (e.g. head, stomach, chest).
  • Time of year I usually suffer (e.g. holidays, birthday).
  • What I usually suffer about (e.g. my children, my family, work).

If you completed that original assignment, go back and look at your answers. If you did not write down you responses, or if this is the first time you have learned about a suffering profile, then create it now. You can either use the list above, or go back to the original assignment and use the diagram.

Once you have identified, or reviewed, your suffering profile, you are ready to start this week’s assignment.

Each day this week, whenever you are tempted to suffer, go ahead and suffer! But this time, be sure you are suffering in different ways than those you identified in your profile. For example, if your profile is to suffer about work, at home, during the evening, with your husband, an alternative could be to choose to suffer about your yard, with a supportive friend, during the day, on a walk.

If nothing is bothering you, then intentionally find something to suffer about, so that you have multiple experiences of changing your profile.

Take a few minutes each day to journal about your experience.

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

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See you next Monday for the sixteenth lesson.

To find the lessons in this series that have already been published, click here.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

DEAR YOU

Neal's Epiphany

Disclaimer – A letter to my former self.  A probable epilogue to my “DEAR ME” post. 

Dear You,

There is nothing I can say to prepare you for where life will take you in the next ten years.

You will have experiences you never imagined possible or plausible—there will be great heartaches and devastating blows—and you will be taken to places you never knew existed. You will feel like you can’t go on, and you will feel like you will explode.

Your greatest fears will come to reality and you will never be the same, but you will fumble your way through.

I want to tell you specifics, I want to tell you where you should try harder and hold on more and not give up; I want to tell you where you should give in and let go and how to take care of yourself when the unthinkable…

View original post 679 more words

Letting Go of Suffering- Week Fourteen: Making It Bigger

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Dr. Ed Beckham, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in Oklahoma City, once developed a series of tips to aid you in ruining your day.

      1. Plan twice as much as you can get accomplished.
      2. Don’t be flexible
        -demand others do everything your way
        -know it will be a catastrophe if you don’t get your way
        -view everyone who disagrees with you as an obstacle
      3. Worry about anything that can be worried about
        -think a lot about anything that is going wrong even if you can’t do anything about it
      4. Take things personally
        -think about how others aren’t treating you fairly
        -ruminate about how others don’t have the right to do what they do to you
        -brood about how you don’t deserve what is happening to you
      5. Don’t be humorous about anything
        -take everything very seriously
        -consider everything to be a life and death situation

(Source: Stimulate Your Stress, US Air Magazine, p. 10, July 1991.

Paradoxically, these same tips can be used to help you stop your suffering.

Your assignment this week is to make everything BIGGER:

        1. For 15 to 60 minutes a day
          -plan twice as much as you can get accomplished
          -don’t be flexible
          -worry about anything that can be worried about
          -take things personally
          -don’t be humorous about anything
        2. Pick a specific time period to complete the assignment, i.e. do not do “10 minutes here and 10 minutes there.” If possible, do the assignment the same time each day.
        3. Do NOT set yourself up
          -don’t do this assignment at work
          -do not do this assignment around people who are not supportive of you
          -let the people who will be around you when you are doing the assignment know what you are doing
        4. If you are tempted to suffer at any other time during the day, tell yourself that it is important for you to wait until the assigned time.
        5. Each day, after you complete your assignment, spend a few minutes journaling about your experience and about your day in general.

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

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See you next Monday for the fifteenth lesson.

To find the lessons in this series that have already been published, click here.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Honoring My Inner Wisdom

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I published a new post, Honoring My Inner Voice, on The Seeker’s Dungeon this morning. I hope you take a moment and head to the Dungeon to read it!

While you are there, take a look at the 365 Days on Living and Dying event under the Guest Posts tab. Sreejit is still welcoming submissions for that offering.

Letting Go of Suffering- Week Thirteen: Holding Yourself Accountable

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It is easier to make contracts than it is to keep them. For example, if you made a contract not to eat chocolate, how long would you be able to resist if there was a piece of chocolate on the table next to you?

One way to increase the likelihood that you will keep your contract is find ways to hold yourself accountable. In my psychotherapy groups, clients do “Accountability Work” whenever they break their contracts. The structure we use looks like this:

The contract I broke:

How I broke it:

The mistaken belief that caused me to break the contract:

One or two things that I will do to prevent myself from breaking the contract again:

 

Here are some examples:

EXAMPLE #1

Contract I broke: I won’t eat junk food.

How I broke it:  I ate a bag of cookies.

Mistaken belief that caused me to break it: My feelings are not okay. [Note: People often use overeating as a way to shove down their feelings.]

One or two things that I will do to prevent myself from breaking the contract again:
1) I will remove all of the junk food from my house.

2) When I crave junk food, I will call a friend and ask for support.

 

EXAMPLE #2

The contract I broke:  I will not work more than 50 hours per week.

How I broke it: I worked 65 hours last week.

The mistaken belief that caused me to break the contract: It is not okay for me to say “NO.” [Note: You can’t say NO to everything you don’t want to do, but many people with this belief develop an unhealthy pattern of saying YES to everything.]

One or two things that I will do to prevent myself from breaking the contract again:
1) I will let my friends know that I am going to practice saying NO and would like their help. If they agree to help me, I will ask them for something every day for two weeks. [Note: This will also give you practice in hearing “NO.” When I did this exercise I asked someone to pay for my graduate school tuition!]

2) I will say the mantra “My needs are important” 1000 times a day for twenty-one days.

 

If you find yourself breaking a contract regularly, you may find it helpful to add a consequence to the contract.

Example #1 

Contract: I will clean the kitchen before I go to bed.

How I broke it: I watched TV after dinner. I went to bed without cleaning the kitchen.

Consequence: For the 7 days, I will not watch TV until the kitchen is clean.

 

Example #2

Contract: I will exercise 3 times a week.

How I broke it: I did not exercise at all.

Consequence:  Any week I do not keep my exercise contract, I will pick up litter for 45 minutes. I complete this consequence within 5 days of breaking the contract.

 

The assignment for this week is to be accountable for your contracts. In the box below, write the two contracts you will focus on this week. They can be the same ones you worked on last week, or new ones.

54a

Do accountability work any time you break one of your contracts:

The contract I broke:

How I broke it:

The mistaken belief that caused me to break the contract:

One or two things that I will do to prevent myself from breaking it again:

 

After completing your accountability work, ask yourself if you need to add a consequence to these contracts. If so what consequence will you set?

Consequence Contract 1:

Consequence Contract 2:

 

Each day this week, journal about your experience with contracts and holding yourself accountable.

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

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See you next Monday for the fourteenth lesson.

To find the lessons in this series that have already been published, click here.

Photo Credit: Pixabay