Daily Prompt: Grit

Twelve days ago, I fell doing Greenbelt restoration work. I fell hard. The result: bruised ribs. When I first read today’s Daily Prompt: Grit, I took grit to mean the quality of doing whatever it takes to accomplish a goal, not letting any roadblock stand in the way. When I looked up the word in Wikipedia, I found this definition:

Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment, and serves as a driving force in achievement realization.

Since I fell, the amount of time I work in the Greenbelt has reduced dramatically, and what I do there has shifted. I may slowly place a few burlap bags over a cleared area; spend time laying out a design for a cluster of trees, shrubs and ground covers that will be planted the end of October; or I may wander around looking at the squirrels, birds and the occasional butterfly. Thankfully, I can still use my organizational abilities to lead work parties so the work is advancing; it just isn’t me holding the shovel.

Yesterday, I read that it takes bruised ribs 4-12 weeks to heal, and that the older you are, the longer it may take. I can tell that I am getting better. There is evidence of that daily. Healing just isn’t occurring on my preferred time table.

While I am frustrated by not being able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, I know that I am being given lessons in patience and accepting what is. It doesn’t mean I have to stop advancing towards my goal, but it does mean that I can’t do the level of physical labor that I want to be doing. It is important for me to realize that developing patience and learning to accept what is are also lessons in my life’s curriculum and that those qualities are as important as grit in achieving my life goals.

I have grit, and I am learning behaviors that will support that grit.

Shocking Revelation

I am still reeling from some information I received today. It just occurred to me to look and see if today’s Daily Prompt would fit for this situation.  Revelation is perfect!

For the last month, I’ve been looking forward to taking a Plant Identification course that was offered to Forest Stewards and other volunteers who work in Seattle’s reforestation projects. When I arrived at the class today, I discovered most of the students had been Forest Stewards for a long time and the others had at least some experience in plant identification. I, on the other hand, only know a few of these native plants.

Last month, Ananya and I had to choose the trees, shrubs and ground covers that we will be planting in our group’s Greenbelt site the end of October. We ordered nearly 400 plants. In the course of today’s class, I learned that those plants will be delivered to us unmarked. Not only that, most will be in their winter state so we may have only a twig to use for identification.

WWWWWWHHHHHHAAAAAAATTTTTTTT?

The need for me to learn to identify our plants has certainly taken on a new intensity. As I sat down to write this post, though, a couple of other thoughts came to my mind. When we ordered the plants, we had to order in quantities of 10. We ordered 10 for some varieties and 20 for others. So even though we will have to identify 400 plants, there will only be 26 different types. That seems doable.  Also, sometime prior to October we will have the opportunity to take a Winter Twig class. I will make taking that class a priority.

I am sure glad that I learned this information today, rather than discovering it when the plants are delivered. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. And I don’t have to do it alone! Ananya and I will do it together and if we need help we will get it.

A Treasure for Me

I laughed when I saw that today’s Daily Prompt is Chuckles. I also thought of the old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” That is exactly how I feel about dandelions this time of year.

Two days ago, I saw this strip of dandelions near my home. It was at least 50 feet long and maybe more. Throughout the winter, I have been going to the grocery store to pick up lettuce that is going to be discarded. I feed it to the worms in my vermicomposting bins. The worms seem to be losing their enthusiasm for the lettuce, but they love the fresh dandelion greens.

The problem with the dandelions in this field is that it is part of light rail property and is completely fenced in. I have no way to access it, so I have to be satisfied with using the dandelions in my yard and the few that are on the street side of the fence.

Even though I know that it is important for me to focus on what I have, rather than what I don’t have, I have no doubt that I will still look longingly at the treasure that is beyond my grasp whenever I pass this field.

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…

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.

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…

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