Tuesday, July 9

Expressing Our Voice: A Great Antidote for Depression, Revisited 7/9/13

Image: "Scotland: Ben Nevis With His Hat On" by Tim Blessed. Copyrighted photograph.
 Good afternoon, 
I have free time and here I am. Doing laundry today is something I'm looking forward to.  That sounds weird to you, you say?

        I appreciate the sense of accomplishment I get when involved
with this task, along with the scent of fresh clothes, not to mention the meditative nature this household chore permits.  My mind wanders, out-of-nowhere thoughts surface---along with the suds----when washing clothes, and yes, usually I experience a spiritual awakening.
"Prayer is, no matter what position your body is in, that your soul is on its knees." Victor Hugo
     I'm meeting with someone this evening. She had a severe experience as a younger woman.  We're going to process her pain when we meet.

     I'm bumping up something written in April of 2011. I found it among the dusty bins, up in the attic of this inn. Tell me what you think. Here it is:
     I wrote a letter to a friend I've known since twelve.  A disappointment needed processing. Expressing concerns in a caring manner is best.
     Non-violent communication (NVC) helps.  For more about this subject, you can read here.  I get better results when I express needs without using the five forms of Life Alienating Communication: blame, shame, fear, guilt or judgment.  My relationships improve, too, using NVC.
     The letter worked: my friend responded. I expressed my disappointment.
      It's encouraging knowing life improves, when taking care of our needs. However, it requires standing in our power, recovery and integrity.  You can read here (the second half of this post), for additional thoughts.  We needn't remain stuck when life presents unwanted circumstances.
      It's my responsibility dealing with life's disappointments.  I set myself up for resentment when expecting others to rescue me, if life doesn't go my way.
      A child, I am not. Re-sponsibility for effecting outcomes I want to see is mine. I am the only per-son on earth who can make taking care of my needs my number one responsibility. (Courage to Change, p. 229)
     One key point: it helps seeking God's will, along with asking Him for the power to carry it out.  If things don't go my way, I don't get angry.  I trust life's outcomes after my best efforts to be His will.
     Asking God to do what I want is asking him to perform my will, not His.  I surrendered my will over to Him decades ago. In twelve step recovery, this is the Third Step. Doing so grants me serenity, I'm a happier camper.
     Here's an important point: if I'm still disturbed by a person or circumstance, then I haven't turned that person or situation over to God. I'm still at square one, Step One, in recovery speak.
     I'm encouraged, seeing new legacies rooting in my life, the result of exercising different, constructive actions.  Expressing our needs, while also being respectful towards others is a difficult characterological skill. This is a skill not taught to us as kids.   
     It isn't our family's fault, alone, this inability to express values while simultaneously being kind and courteous.  Churches and schools contributed to our social ineptness, as kids.
Unhealthy Principles Taught As a Child:
1. To unquestioningly obey others.
2. Expressing my opinion was not allowed, I was a child.
3. To not speak, unless spoken to.
4. Others know my needs better than I do. I was to trust and defer to the opinion of others, even if I was uncomfortable or disagreed with the views presented.
5. Ignore my feelings. Comply, even if it doesn't feel right, because I was should.
6. Disagreeing, was disrespectful, especially if the other person was an authority figure.
7. Passivity was encouraged.
     I was coerced as a child to open my mind. Allowing values to be poured into my mind, without challenging them, was being a good son, student and parishoner.  There was a small problem. I was strong-willed.
     The above listed values were unpalatable. Holding onto my dignity and self-esteem,  I swam against the current of childhood authority figures, it didn't matter who.  As a result, I was a happier, less timid, more driven and confident person. My perseverance was steadfast even when authority figures tried beating the independent self out of me.
     To this day, I don't live in a one-down position with others.  Communicating in a way that allows me to meet my needs, while being respectful towards others allows me to have peace of mind. I'm content, fulfilled, maintaining my dignity.  I also enjoy improved, more balanced relationships.
      I see more clearly, make better decisions and am less frustrated. Not a bad deal. Really. What a gift it is, being freed from the disease of codependency
Expressing Our Voice
      I'm thankful for the integrity I have when voicing my boundaries.  No, I'm not referring to my vocal chords or the imaginary lines that divide nations, but feeling at home with myself.  Boundaries declare my values, likes and dislikes. 
       It lets others know the "Must Haves" and "Can't Stands" that define who we are.  If we want to be happy, we need to be adults.  Adults disagree with others.  It's normal and necessary for equanimity and peace of mind, not to mention emotional safety.
      I risk the disapproval of others when I'm clear about my boundaries and the fact that my worth is not based upon what others think of me.  (Courage to Change, pps. 9, 118, 217)
      Others can think and feel however they please.  But, I'm happy when my behavior is congruent with my internal clock, worldview and voice.  I do rattle others, though.  In a quiet manner, however. Those who know me personally can attest I'm soft-spoken, but tenacious.  I didn't say vicious----I'm not interested in harming anyone.
How About You?
1.  Is there anything that prevents you from expressing your views?
2.  What allows you to overcome negative conditioning you experienced as a child? 


Carl H said...

Dear Innkeeper,

On this Tuesday night, I am grateful for;

1. The kind benevolence and grace a dear friend in Texas has extended to me in light of an unintentionally hurtful oversight on my part. My amends was met with the generosity of forgiveness; moving.

2. Quality time with a bright, young, new-hire work colleague; on the road with sales calls, and an animated lunch conversation.

3. Being duly corrected by my wife tonight for not consulting her first and foremost as my life and parenting partner, when saying yes to a small loan to our deserving #4 son.

Vanessa Higgins said...

I don't like conflict. I let people rant and rave so they can release anger, but I won't reflect it back on them. I approach them after to say that was unacceptable behaviour and I won't tolerate it, but it's too late ya know? - We talked about this.

I love talk therapy though. My doctors, my group sessions, friends, family, wow…I talk a lot!!

Theresa Elander said...

What prevents me from expressing my views?
The belief that I will be judged or misunderstood.

Worrying about being inappropriate.

Believing that my view is not valued.

What allows me to overcome negative conditioning?
Realizing my negative beliefs are only beliefs, they are not facts. In fact, they are lies I tell myself.

My Al-Anon sponsor's repetition helps me rewire old beliefs.

Paying attention to my feelings - recognizing when I feel discomfort and seeing where that leads. I often find self judgement.

Carl H said...

Dear Innkeeper,

On this Thursday night, I am grateful for;

1. A wonderful gathering of friends and kindred souls tonight in Berkeley to break bread, hear amazing Gospel Music (Josh Cotter, Rob Schwartz. and his incomparable brother Stevin), a talk and discussion.

2. Robin Schweters remarkably delicious Almond Squares for dessert!

3. Two brief power-naps today while out on my weekly work-pilgrimage to Sonoma, Napa and Concord, finally landing in Berkeley.

Pablo said...

My apologies to everyone who commented. Somehow,I overlooked your comments, in the administrative page that lets me know there are comments. I just saw them, now.

Dear Carl,

How did you make amends, if I may ask? You are lucky. You have a built in governor, who keeps you accountable. Fortunate man, you are.

Pablo said...

Dear Vanessa,

I hope you see this, this tardy reply. I'm sorry for not answering sooner.

I don't let people rant and rave. It neither helps them or me, the listener. I rather address the needs underneath their anger. That allows us to stay in the solution.

Good for you; you connect with others. Often, when discussing what troubles us, in a healthy environment, naming what ails us removes the power of the vexing issue, and that's terrific for us, mentally and emotionally.

I love your comments. I'll answer them sooner, in the future.

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.