So each time I meet with my therapist, we go over two tracker sheets that I keep a record of throughout the time in between each session. The Coping Skills & Mood Tracker is a simply a record of each time I feel a negative emotion or I experience a flashback, and whether or not the coping skill used was positive or negative. The Dialectical tracker is for keeping track of the different types of Grounding and Coping skills to see what I gravitate towards using.
The problem is that I’m using distraction almost all the time, so I’m not really doing much to try and improve and I end up gravitating towards temporary release.
So we’re trying something different this week, I made a new sheet that I call the Thought & Emotion Tracker. In this she wants me to take each negative thought or emotion that I feel and use Rational or Wise mind to turn that negativity into something that is at least neutral or even better, a positive. When she suggested this, I asked her, “so I actually have to believe what I’m going to write down on this sheet?” (Believe me I can write down just about anything and tell her what she wants to hear).
So in response to that statement she said, “well it would be nice, but the important thing is to keep reinforcing positive thoughts. Keep working on training your brain to develop new responses to traumatic memories and negative thinking. In time, the more you do it, the more you will start to believe it even if you don’t think you will.”
I guess it’s good that I realize that just telling her what she wants to hear isn’t going to do either of us any good. Maybe that’s a bit of progress right there in itself? Then again, it’s probably not that big of a deal and not a small victory as much as I think. I mean it’s just common sense right, telling someone what they want to hear isn’t helpful for either of you.
See, I just did it again right there. I could have just backspaced out of that last statement and you’d never know, but I want to convey a bit of how my mind works.
I am an expert at minimizing anything positive, and taking any victory no matter how significant and turning it into something less than an accomplishment. Minimizing is a form of negative thinking, at least I think it is.
The more I focus on my past, even if I’m minimizing it I’m still thinking about it, and that keeps it in the forefront of my mind so I don’t dare suppress these feelings again. The more I suffer, feel pain, try to embrace flashbacks, and dwell on my past, I’m ensuring that I will not ever regress and slip back into suppressing like I did for 30 years. I am so hell bent on never going backwards that trying to understand how I can heal and not forget, just doesn’t compute with my brain yet.
So how do I take all the negative thoughts about my past, realize how much they affect my daily life in the form of loneliness, depression, anxiety, & worry, and turn them into something that rational mind and wise mind would say?
Well, I’ll have to force myself to think through each negative thought and emotion logically and not rush to a judgement. It will require being mindful, in the here and now, which I’m not real good at it. Actually I kinda suck at it. However if I can work on that, I can probably come up with some pretty positive responses.
However, it’s going to be a lot of trial and error, and repetition. In time maybe I’ll actually start to believe what I’m going to be telling myself, which would make my therapist very happy.