Self talk

I’ve done it for years, and I have noticed others too. Self talk, the gentle encouragement, or the talking of oneself off a ledge, so important a coping tool for depression sufferers and those with anxiety.

It’s usually done silently for fear of being discovered by those around us. We fear being judged or avoided for being a nutbag. Today I view self talk as a sign of great strength. I was asked on social media, “What’s something you miss from childhood?” and I was surprised to learn by reading the first few responses that there were people who had nothing good to say about their formative years. One person had been adopted, another abused, both potentially severe traumas for young people. I miss most the encouraging words I received from my folks, my sisters, my teachers, and friends. I think that gift of encouragement in the form of talking me through challenges, led me to the practice of tapping into my inner messages. These are the most private messages sent to yourself when stressed or faced with some important task.

“What the hell have you done?”

“What gave you the idea you could do this?”

“Nobody knows how really scared I am right now..”

All of these types of messages, the self talk in our own heads, have to pass through your ear gate. In his book “Attitude is Everything,” Keith Harrell defines your ear gate as the source of entry of power or the lack of self esteem that people encounter throughout their waking life. I had the great pleasure of seeing Harrell speak at a seminar for professional skills trainers sponsored by AchieveGlobal. Harrell was one of the most dynamic motivational speakers I have ever encountered. He took his audience through a range of emotions, at times bringing us to tears with the power and truth of his message. I’ve hyperlinked his Vimeo story in case you need a lift in your day. It’s about 17 minutes long, but worth every second of your time investment, and it explains the importance of guarding your psyche from negative messages that we may let past our ear gates.

Self talk has helped me to dig myself out of a very deep and lasting depressive episode in my last 4 years. I’m now getting ready to re-enter the workforce and I am using self talk to help me regain the great confidence and love for public speaking I once enjoyed. Please give your impression of the value of self talk, and also your thoughts about one of my favorite people, Keith Douglas Harrell.

Ridding the soul of hate

“Hate begets hate,” a central theme in a great movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is a great cinematic message for the world.  Celebrated at the Golden Globes and a box office hit, this movie was a great wakeup call on many levels.   If you’ve read my posts, you know I enjoy great films, and this one is destined for a place in cinematic history.  I promise not to spoil the film for anyone, but one of its  many messages is about hate being like a cancer, and ridding the soul, replacing hate with love will lead to renewal, achieving life goals, and by extrapolation leads to a lightened depressed state, and reclaiming precious energy.

Many times in my most depressed moods I’ve beaten myself up for allowing my life to pass me by, dropping out of sight of beloved people, being emotionally unavailable, and for feeling so helpless about how this took place.  All whilst I schlogged through wet concrete trying to function and hiding my battle.

Hate of oneself or hate of your situation can happen at different junctures in your life, or at least it has in my life.  Resilience is that coveted ability to bounce back from setbacks, something that we depressed, anxious people wish we could do. Resilience is a learned skill.  Do you ever stop and think about resilience role models you’ve known?  Have you gained resilience by watching the example of others?  When you receive a setback in life, whether it’s a flat tire on a workday morning, a medical diagnosis like high blood pressure, or being laid off your job,   these events require our mindfulness, our concentration, and some degree of resilience in order to function.

As I look back at my life, the largest portion which is behind me, I cannot ever remember myself as being someone who is effortlessly resilient, able to recover quickly from setbacks and dust my butt off to get right back into the game.   Nope, rather than bounce or spring back like an employer might expect, instead I choose to re-think the event, brood, fret, lash out behind closed doors, blame & curse others.  Only after this cycle is complete, it is then that I feel myself begin to plot my return.  The loss of perspective is my depression.  The period of time I need in order to process the setback is the refractory period, the gathering of great resilience.

In “Three Billboards,” the main character Mildred Hayes has endured months of unimaginable angst awaiting her small town police department to locate the culprit who brutally murdered Mildred’s daughter.  Horrific circumstances that would shake the mettle of the strongest soldier, but Mildred reflects, she broods, and then one day she summons the strength and the resources to take effective action.  The movie is too real for many of us–we feel like we’ve been in Mildred’s shoes, hopefully in much smaller bursts of bad times.  We see her life backward and forward in time, dealing with phase-of-life circumstances like divorce, physical abuse, single parenting teenage children, alcoholism, all amid a backdrop small town of people who are also dealing with their own set of life circumstances.

Finding resilience through mindfulness

I’ve been so fortunate in my life to have known strong, selfless, mindful people.  I have a faith that tells me it’s no accident that I have crossed paths with great, principled role model people because we were supposed to teach each other, or learn from each other in order to get through this life mostly intact, and without a feeling of being totally alone in our struggles.  Lost perspective is regained when we step out of our own grudges, setbacks, and bruised feelings of being slighted. We need to pause the DVR of life and make certain our energy is properly focused, our efforts carefully prioritized.  We have to be number one in our own list of priorities before we can teach, coach, or be a help to others. How do you amass resilience?  Do you take time for reflection, mindfulness, and getting back to functioning again?


Getting knocked down

Many times a setback feels like a direct blow to the head. Watching the TV news, listening to the horrific details and watching the very anguished look on the faces of parents and grieving friends. 17 people in Parkland, Florida were killed by an angry and confused 20 year old man. In the state of Florida, he can buy an assault rifle legally, along with smoke bombs and multiple magazines for his AR 15 rifle.

I’ve just been stuck in a nasty mood, funked up by seeing smiling president trump taking photo op pictures with first responders, and even one of the victims in her hospital bed. I’m very sorry for anyone still left with feelings that this dreadful human is concerned for anyone other than himself. He’s a constant embarrassment to the United States, most notably one year ago by signing proudly an executive order making it legal for mentally ill buyers to purchase weapons of mass destruction. In the cover of aftermath of new violent chaos, his administration announced the stripping of funds for the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and an accounting for the $107 Million dollar budget for his poorly attended inauguration. All of the funds are gone, $26 Million awarded to a no bid contract to Melania trump’s friend.

I know this blog better serves depression, anxiety, and panic, however in my dreams last night, my home was beset by millions of red ants which later morphed into wasps. We live in very tumultuous times. The US is divided by their leader, and our democracy is being sold in Rubles. It fuels my depression to watch the many assaults to my country, and to feel as though I wanna can do nothing about it.

I meditate, I pray that we will soon see the complex and fraudulent dynasty of the trump family exposed for the excess and false royalty it portrays itself to be. In the meantime, if you have positive energy in abundance, please send it to those grieving families who must process huge loss, and accept that our nation values assault weapons over the lives of its citizens, even the young ones. If you’re a voter, please consider making stronger gun laws an issue to explore with your state’s leadership.

What dreams may come?

This topic shares the name of a favorite movie starring Robin Williams. In the movie, shot in fantasy genre, Williams’ beloved wife Annie commits suicide, and his character Chris suffers tremendous feelings of guilt that drive him to believe he can save her soul by rescuing her from the pits of hell.  Drastic and unpleasant subject matter I acknowledge, but if ever there was a picture with award winning imagery of what hell might look like, this is it.  For the severely depressed, it demonstrates the vivid dreams that seem to plague us during the dark times. I recommend that you watch the movie “What Dreams May Come” if you’ve never seen it.  It has its happy moments, but more importantly I think it is a clue, like another Williams movie “The Fisher King,” to Robin Williams’ personal battles with major depressive episodes. The hyperlink is the main character’s journey into hell, and the picture at top of this topic is borrowed from the cinematographer’s depiction of purgatory.

Dream studies suggest that when our bodies relax enough to let go of the conscious world we experience freedom that allows our subconscious mind to empty itself of unfinished thoughts, sometimes those troubling aspects of our waking life.

If my own dreams are an indication, there’s plenty of reasons for the vivid and terrifying dreams I’ve experienced for over five years as of this writing. Who knew that someone of average imagination and writing talents could fabricate elaborate landscapes, linked somehow to stimuli from the conscious, waking life? Medications for sleep also warn of vivid nightmares, so please consider reading the micro font printed warnings that come with medications related to sleep and depression if you are troubled by night terrors.

Dreams motivate us to understand what events or conditions might be troubling our souls; dreams can be whimsical fantasies that give our heavily burdened brains a good laugh.  I far prefer the latter, though sometimes I am troubled by nightmares long after they’ve occurred.  Before the depression and in my happier dreams I once wrote beautiful poetry, and poignant stories penning them with my finger on the bedsheet.  Some very creative people value dreams so much that they keep paper and pen next to their sleep space so they can free their minds of waking thoughts to be dealt with later, and to facilitate unfettered dreaming. If a dream provides the basis for needed action, they write ideas and the actions on paper upon waking and before they are forgotten. During the night terrors when I wake and try to go back to sleep, I’m pushed right back to the same scary place that my nightmare had paused just before my body woke up. Self study has taught me the recurring, re-entry at the place of paused nightmares is the definition of obsessive behavior associated with anxiety. Many times I would get out of bed, watch late night, bad TV shows until sufficiently bored enough to give sleep another try.

I’ve read some interesting materials about dreams over my lifetime. There has been much scientific thought given to whether people have dreams in color.  One study concluded that older people, those born during the age of black and white television, tended not to remember color in dreams. Young people claiming their dreams were color-filled remembered pastel shades. Further discussion about dreams revealed that nightmares occur during pre-REM sleep when the brain is less busy, which might explain my tendencies to dream about scary situations or people. Insomnia prevents me from achieving REM (rapid eye movement sleep stage) most nights.

What has been on your mind?

Do you remember your dreams?  Dream researchers in the past ten years theorized that we do not remember dreams, but instead, the waking mind tries to make sense of random pieces of the dream using reason.  Since the real life events in the dream seldom occur exactly as they did in waking time, our logical left brain struggles to relate the imagery to something real, the conscious mind making some sense of a dream in order to move past it.

To those who are reading this blog, when have you taken action based on a dream? Do you value dreaming?  Do your dreams reveal a need to make a change, or provide an outlet for funny thoughts to be expressed?  Please leave your thoughts for others to consider your perspective on dreams.