Monthly Archives: May 2009

Working Through the Pain of Verbal and Emotional Abuse: Self-Disclosure in Therapy…A Question of Professionalism…Does It Hurt More Than It Heals?

Someone who loves me and supports me told me that I’m making myself look bad and unprofessional by writing these blog entries and sharing so much of my personal neurotic self. She questioned how I think I can look professional and be a respected author of a therapy workbook if I am presenting myself as so messed up. I’ve thought about this all along…and I did expect this point to be raised. I haven’t thought through it at a deep level though…so my thoughts about it aren’t so organized…so what I write now will be pretty raw…but here’s what I think at this moment in time.

I teach my patients that most normal people are messed up in some ways…that there are few VERY NORMAL PEOPLE who have no major emotional issues and concerns. I believe that ALL PEOPLE struggle with themselves in some way or another…at least at some points in their life. I don’t think that NORMAL people are perfectly normal. I think the kinds of emotional issues and concerns that I struggle with ARE NORMAL…that many people struggle with the same things…or similar things…or other things that dog them just the same. I think that normal people are messed up…I think being “ABNORMAL”…IS NORMAL. I think that people who are putting on a PROFESSIONAL FRONT are PUTTING ON a professional FRONT. I know that some people are highly self-controlled and very tightly wrapped…and, that’s ABNORMAL.

What’s wrong with them that they can’t admit or reveal their humanity, their weaknesses, their struggles…Why is it that they feel so strongly about presenting to the world as SO PROFESSIONAL and SO NORMAL? What is it that they don’t want people to know about them…or what are they so ashamed of that they’re hiding…or what is it that they don’t want people to think about them? What is so bad about their true self? Why do they have to hide their humanity and who they are as a person? Why is it that they feel the need to separate themselves from humanity and place themselves on a “I’ve got my life VERY WELL TOGETHER and I’m better than you…or different than you…I’M PROFESSIONAL…I’m DISTINCT…I’m in a different social class…I am one that is respectable…I have overcome my humanity” pedestal?

Boy am I going to piss these people off!

I think that if we can’t accept ourselves, our weaknesses, our humanity, then we have major, big, emotional issues and concerns. I think that if we have to put ourselves on a pedestal and create a facade of absolute professionalism and perfection…then there’s something wrong with us…something wrong that we feel we have to distinguish ourselves from humanity…from the “common people.” Has our sense of self been so beaten that in order to FEEL OKAY…we have to be SO self-controlled…and maintain such a professional self-image and presentation to others…so that we can feel a sense of integrity, wholeness, togetherness, and acceptability? Why would one have to distinguish and separate themselves from humanity in order to feel okay? Do we feel so bad about who we are…and our humanity…that we have to distinguish or separate ourselves from others…and humanity?

Why can’t I just feel okay about myself…and accept that my emotional and psychological weaknesses are okay and acceptable…and normal? Why would I have to CHEAT and DECEIVE my patients and book readers…and put on this facade of PERFECTION or near perfection…and interact with them in HIGHLY PROFESSIONAL ways…in order to gain their respect by deceit and trickery? Is my sense of self-respect so low that I have to heighten my sense of self-respect by conning other people into having over-esteemed respect for me?

Do I have to fill up my empty tank of self-respect with THEIR RESPECT for me? If my tank of self-respect is filled enough…I don’t need others to fill that tank for me…because it’s already filled enough. Granted and obviously…my tank of self-respect falls below what is healthy because I struggle with it so. However, I’m not going out in the world trying to get others to fill this tank for me. In order for my tank to be filled adequately and to stay that way, I must have the resources to fill it on my own…rather than begging, borrowing, and stealing respect and self-esteem from others.

I continually work on myself and continually struggle with my humanity and my emotional beatings and slaps from the past. I don’t want my reservoir of self-respect to be so vulnerable to the destructive whims and neuroses of others. I continually work on myself so my reservoir of self-respect increases over time…so I am not so needy of being filled with respect by others.

If I am truly to experience self-respect, it needs to come from within…it needs to be mine…else, the amount of respect I have for myself is going to be ever vulnerable to the waves of approval or disapproval from others. I’m tired of living that way. I’m tired of my sense of self being tied to what others think of me…because not everyone is so healthy as to treat us or to regard us consistent with our level of deserving. We all know that other people put us down in order to feel better about themselves…that others may blame us for things instead of blaming themselves…that others criticize or find fault with us because they don’t want to acknowledge or deal with their own faults and weaknesses…that they make us look bad so they don’t have to look bad…and they take credit for what we’ve done so they look better…or they don’t brag on us like they could because somehow it makes them feel less than.

I have received many emotional beatings and slaps in my journey through this world. I’ve had many people in my life that have been very emotionally unhealthy and have been emotionally and verbally abusive and hurtful to me. I have sucked in…and have personalized what they’ve said to me, how they’ve responded to me, and how they’ve treated me. I derived a sick sense of self-respect and self-esteem as a result…a level of self-respect and self-esteem that does not match the reality of my life, my talents, my accomplishments, etc.

I have been very hurt by several authority figures. Some have been victims of emotional abuse and have come to derive a heightened sense of self and empowerment by putting others down…they feel powerful and in control when they weaken the self-esteem of others…they feel in control by overpowering and beating others….and some of these people are filled with so much unrestrained pain and anger…that they have major Emotional Mind eruptions…and they spew the hurtful and the ugly all over their environment.

I have also been subjected to some very narcissistic people as well…people that are so sick inside or so emotionally unhealthy that they interact with the world and present themselves…and on the surface think of themselves…as superior to others. Instead of giving other people due credit, instead of speaking of others in the positive ways they deserve, they demean us, take credit for our work, and don’t show us the positive regard we deserve. They psychologically esteem themselves at our expense. They so much need this to feel okay about themselves. This is a defense mechanism for them…a defense against experiencing their humanity and emotional vulnerability…and the pain and ugliness they feel inside. This is a destructive coping behavior…it is a narcissistic defense.

I have been so beaten and demeaned by my interactions with some of these people that I’m tired of it. I’m tired of feeling this way. I’m tired of the anxiety, self-doubt, insecurities, and all the crap that I’ve felt and suffered through as a result. I’m so tired of the Emotional Mind beatings that I put myself through…that I’ve had to turn on Rational Mind to take a true look at myself…and to decide for myself who I am and what I have to offer to this world. I’ve decided to appraise my own self-worth and to protect my vulnerable sense of integrity. I’ve decided to minimize the impact these emotional unhealthy people have on me…and to rely on the positive regard other people have for me…and the positive regard I have for myself.

This psychological issue is something I will no doubt struggle with for a long time…it’s not an easy thing to overcome. I’ve spent most of my life tied to and deeply affected by how these people have regarded me or have treated me…that it is a rather engrained way of regarding myself. I am working on it…and I will continue to work on it. I will be affected by future insults…but, I will work to minimize the impact they have on me. When one of these insults comes my way, I will work to be Mindful of how it’s affecting me and I will work to disseminate the truth from it. I will ask myself, “Did I do something to deserve this? Is it undeserved and an unrealistic appraisal of me?” If I did something, I will own it…and I will work to continually improve myself in that area. If it makes me feel bad about myself that I keep doing things that cause others to have negative regard for me, I will work to soothe myself and to remind myself that I’m not perfect and that I’m a work in progress. I will try to come up with a Game Plan or a plan of action to better control myself so the same thing doesn’t continue to happen in the future. That’s all I can do. I refuse to destroy myself and my sense of self over it.

I write the things I do in this blog to reach out to other people who are hurting and are struggling with the pains of life…to recognize that in their abnormality, they are perfectly normal…that everyone or most everyone struggles with things…and that what separates the so called normal from abnormal in our mind is how much we know about them…and how much they are willing to know and acknowledge about themselves. I believe that in my abnormality, I am very normal. I feel defective, but I know I’m at a level of good repair…perhaps even better repair than most people…and that, I am a work in progress.

Further, I feel that I have the level of knowledge, skills, understandings, and achievements to be thought of by others as a “professional” and that if people know me, are around me enough…they will easily have that respect for me. I no longer feel the need to ACT professional so people will respect me. I think I can be myself and share myself…and do so while carrying out a professional job. My profession is to help people to achieve self-respect and to gain relief from all the pain and turmoil that drives destructive coping behavior, self-destruction, other destruction, and life destruction…so that they can feel okay about themselves and will begin to interact in the world in a productive, life-enhancing fashion. If I achieve that, then I’ve done good…and I’ve fulfilled my professional responsibility. If being “unprofessional” in appearance by revealing my struggles and weaknesses and my recovery journey…helps to reach a subset of hurting souls, then it is worth being regarded as “unprofessional.” Really, the unknowing opinions of others matter little in the big picture of the world…and any help given to tormented souls matters most.

Now, all this is not to say that I NEVER ACT professional. My profession requires I abide by an ethical code of conduct…and I am very invested in acting professional in that manner…because those things make a major difference in the care and treatment of those I serve. Further, when I’m around people that I am expected to impress or need to impress with my professionalism…I can generally do a good job of pulling that off. I CAN ACT professional for the sake of making a professional impression when I have to…I just don’t choose to live that persona otherwise.

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Fighting Through the Battle to NOT Smoke Cigarettes…Armed with DBT-CBT Skills and Understandings

I weighed myself this morning and I lost 4 pounds over the past 24 hours. Back below the 130 mark. That part of my Emotional Mind feels relief. I’m about mad and frustrated though that this is the way things are…that I have to smoke again to get my body working again…that smoking does this for me and my body is addicted to the cigarettes. I’ve smoked and quit smoking probably 20 times in my life with about 6 times being over the last 5 months…I’ve never had this kind of problem before when I’ve quit smoking. My body has never reacted like this. For me, quitting smoking has always been a choice…a decision. I would decide to quit and I quit…and that was that. I was fine. It was a no big deal type of thing. It was a decision.

Today, it’s not just a decision. It’s not so easy. I’m having big major problems quitting. My body is addicted and it’s causing me big major problems. That makes me angry / frustrated because I want to be in control of my body and my life. I want to be able to make decisions about my behavior…and to be able to change my behavior without all these problems. I want to decide to do something…and then it happens. I did quit smoking for 10 days because I set my mind to it…but then, something happened. The something that happened is that a big boulder fell out of the sky and slammed right into the middle of my recovery path. That something was the bloating, constipation, and subsequent MASSIVE weight gain. My reality changed. Things aren’t the same as they used to be. I have something new to deal with.

That reality is that I’m not 16 or 25 or 35 anymore. I’m getting older and my body is changing. Things aren’t the same as they were before when I’ve successfully quit smoking…and my task in life right now is to adjust and deal with my new reality. My reality is…my body is having a major GI (gastrointestinal) response to withdrawal from cigarettes. My body is reacting in a big way. My reality is that to be successful with quitting smoking, I am going to have to find a way around, over, through, or passed this big obstacle in my recovery path. I am going to have to find a way to deal with it.

A bit of history. I have lost 145 pounds over the last 4 years. I was never FAT until I got FAT at about the age of 29. I was usually in the 115 to 135 range…but then, marriage to a man that eats, children, and a job AND a business away from home that created a chaotic out-of-control eating lifestyle…led me to gain a pound or so a month…over many months…to become VERY overweight. This is another story and over time, I’ll blog about it. But today, I’ve lost a ton of weight…and I am determined NOT to get fat again. I don’t want to go back there again.

So, it really alarms me when my weight starts going up and I’m NOT IN CONTROL. Since I quit smoking 10 days ago, my weight went up 7 pounds. The last day before I quit smoking, it jumped two pounds. Rationally, I know it’s not real weight, granted maybe ½ a pound of it is because I was eating a bit more those days. However, I went up two pant sizes and even the bigger size was a little tight. My Emotional Mind was very disturbed. If we can even call it Wise Mind…it kicked in and said smoke again, get your weight back down, and get a new Game Plan. That sounds like a horrible Emotion-Driven Lie I told myself. However, I know me and I know my sense of determination and I can get away with that. I am bound and determined to kick this smoking thing because I don’t want to be 65 and tied to an oxygen tank. I have other plans for my life and it doesn’t include toting around an oxygen tank. I will find a way to make this happen…one way or another…and come hail or high water.

I still have some options. I can talk with a doctor and find out if a patch or a pill can ease my physiological withdrawal from cigarettes and can keep my body from reacting so intensely to the lack of whatever poison it is in cigarettes that is causing this bloating, constipation, and major weight gain. I can start exercising regularly to keep my metabolism up and to offset the increase in calories. I can ask my family NOT to bring ANYTHING in the house that will tempt me to eat…to hide it in their room, leave it in the car, but to keep it out of my range of vision. In the last few days, Sour Cream and Onion Lays potato chips came in the house and a box of Reeses’ cereal. Even snacking on those added 300 calories to my day…on Thursday…the day I decided to smoke again. I can also make some calorie / diet changes to what I normally eat on my own and without temptation from others. I can adjust my routine diet. I’m not done yet. I still have some options…and I still have a helluva lot of fight inside me to get past and through this tough time. Come hail or high water and boulders that fall out of the sky, I will make it through…because it is important to me to quit smoking. Do pray for me because I really want this to happen…and I need all the help I can get!

Copyright Statement: Material contained within this blog is copyrighted protected with all rights reserved © Melanie Gordon Sheets commencing in 2009 and extending through the present age. Please request permission to quote or otherwise use material obtained from this blog by emailing: service@dbt-cbt-workbook.com

Please visit the website www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com for more information about the DBT-CBT Workbook. The full title is “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” – Recovery Works Publications, 2009.

Quit Smoking and Bloating, Constipation, Reduced Metabolism, and Weight Gain!

The same thing happened again…I got bloated, constipated, and my weight went up. I gained 6 pounds and 2 pant sizes. Not a happy moment. Good-bye slim fit Wrangler size 9 and hello size 11 regular fit! That’s going from a size 7 to a size 11 with just 6 pounds…6 pounds in my stomach and waist area that is! If you read the other blog post I wrote recently about my struggles to quit smoking, you’ll know that I’ve quit smoking 5-6 times this year…and each time I got bloated, gained a bunch of weight REAL FAST…returned to smoking…and lost it all real fast.

One time I was eating a lot of nuts and blamed it on the nuts. Another time I blamed it on starting birth control pills. This time, I didn’t change anything in my life…but, the same thing happened. As is typical, I talk to my friends when I’m in distress. Today, I spoke with a friend…and he said the same thing happens to him…the bloat, the constipation, and the weight gain when he quits smoking. I told him another friend told me that smoking increases metabolism…so I assumed not smoking results in decreased metabolism. Well, knowing he’s had the same experience, I googled and read about what happens when you quit smoking. This pattern is typical. It’s not just about eating more, it’s about the GI tract slowing down, constipation and bloating! So, I learned something new today.

Well, I started smoking again this morning…because now I have gained 6 pounds and I went up two pant sizes. My plan…get a Game Plan, just like I teach in the DBT-CBT class. Obviously, recovery from smoking is more than just stopping smoking…it’s going to involve some major life changes…some of which I have no interest in changing. I have to decide what to do. I already drink quite a bit of water and I eat a LOT of fiber each day. I guess I have to add regular exercise…URGH! I am also going to visit with the doctor and see if there is a magic pill or patch that will help me transition from smoking to non-smoking without all this bloating, constipation, and weight gain. I can deal with a little weight gain…but not something that makes me feel totally Out-of-Control.

So, my plan for now is to smoke for a couple weeks, let my body readjust to all the toxins and poisons in the cigarettes, and…enjoy it as my weight goes back down and I get to smoke again. Then, with increased knowledge and a different plan, I will try again…and I will keep trying until I make it. I sure hope cigarettes don’t kill me in the meantime.

One thing I have to think about is that when I stop smoking, my caloric needs will go down by about 150 calories a day because my heart won’t be pumping so fast. My metabolism will go down because I won’t be smoking and causing my heart rate to unnaturally increase. If I’m eating 300-400 extra calories per day because I’m not smoking…then that’s about 500 extra per day…and one extra pound of true fat per week. I am going to have to do something to offset that! It will be hard to reduce caloric intake by 150 calories a day because I normally eat about 1200 calories per day! So, I have a definite problem.

Another thing I have to keep in mind is that I lost the first 100 pounds without smoking and I have been slender before without smoking. Somehow I did it then, and I have to do it again.

Copyright Statement: Material contained within this blog is copyrighted protected with all rights reserved © Melanie Gordon Sheets commencing in 2009 and through the present age. Please request permission to quote or otherwise use material obtained from this blog by emailing: service@dbt-cbt-workbook.com

Please visit the website http://www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com for more information about the DBT-CBT Workbook – full title “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior.

Trying to DBT-CBT My Way Through Quitting Smoking – The Battle Between Emotional Mind and Rational Mind

This is my 5th or 6th time to quit smoking this year. This is something I’ve always been really good at. I’ve successfully quit smoking over a dozen times in my life. No joke…I really mean it! I’ve quit for long periods of time, like years at a time…and then, I pick up a cigarette…and here I go again!

I have most often quit when I’ve gotten sick. It was always a “planned quit”…”I’ll quit next time I get sick and cigarettes taste horrible.” That was a very effective plan. The problem this time…is that I haven’t gotten sick enough to quit and I’ve had to find other reasons to quit. No, please don’t pray for me to get so sick that I quit! Don’t want to go there on purpose…especially in this age of swine flu!

I’ve also quit several times due to pregnancy. I’ve also quit before when I dated someone who didn’t smoke…I knew what it was like for a non-smoker to kiss a smoker…been on the receiving end of such a kiss…and it’s plumb nasty! All in all, I’ve smoked and have quit many times over my 40 year smoking career.

Because I didn’t get sick over the last 18 months…well, not sick enough to quit smoking…I’ve been smoking for 18 months now…with the exception of some short periods of not smoking over the last 4-1/2 months. I did a planned quit on Jan. 5th – the day I went back to work after the holidays. I did fine for about 5 days…my weight had been going crazy and I gained about 13 pounds REAL FAST…like over a two-week period when I was eating 1200-1300 calories a day. Being a professional dieter (like I am a professional smoking quitter!)…My Rational Mind knew that weight wasn’t REAL weight…that it was water, poop, whatever…but, it wasn’t FAT. However, given I’ve lost a ton of weight over the last several years and the last thing I want to do is to gain all my weight back…my Emotional Mind was going crazy…and I was freakin’ out…

I was telling a friend about the weight gain…the bloating…and all the concomitant gas. I told her I shouldn’t be gaining weight because I wasn’t eating that much. She asked what I was eating…and I bragged on eating a very healthy diet of nuts. Well, thank goodness she knew a little something about nuts. She told me that nuts cause bloating…and can cause all that extra gas! I told her I sure wanted to get rid of all the bloating but I was rather enjoying having the ammunition to get even with my gassy family. Well, I did a bunch of googling and found out she was right! So, I got off the nuts and took up smoking AGAIN. My weight dropped as quickly as it came on…and I was RELIEVED!

My Dad was hospitalized for a stroke on Feb 1st…about 3 weeks into my most recent smoking indulgence period. Baylor Heart Hospital in Dallas is NO SMOKING all over the campus…there are NO smoking places…inside or out…imagine that…a heart hospital that does not support smoking. So, given we were living at the hospital for a week, and given my father was a long time smoker and obviously just had to quit cold turkey, I had to give up smoking AGAIN.

That went just fine for a few weeks…and since I wasn’t smoking, I figured it was a good time to start the birth control pills my doctor has prescribed for pre-menopausal hormone replacement. I tried them about two years ago…but my weight went crazy and I quit. Well, this time wasn’t any different…my weight went crazy again. I was gaining 1-2 pounds a day…and about 8 days, 12 pounds, and two sizes later, I quit the pills three days early and started smoking AGAIN!

As expected, my weight went right back down…and I lost a few more pounds. YEA! Well, after about two weeks of enjoying this most recent smoking binge, I set a date to quit smoking AGAIN…on my next “return to work” day. I did just fine for about five days. I quit at the wrong time of the month…the part of the month for me that my weight goes up about 5 pounds…regardless of caloric intake. My Rational Mind knows it’s just water…maybe some extra poop…but, I’m bloated and I have to wear a larger size…and that’s NOT okay. It was also Easter time and my child brought a large bag of some VERY FRESH chocolate covered raisins home and of course, she had to show me what she had. Okay, those were consumed the first night, but I skipped dinner to offset the increased calories. The next day, my friend visits and brings over Easter candy that she found on sale…of course, it’s chocolate stuff…and of course, I consume that…however, because I missed nutrition the night before, I ate real food, too.

Okay, we’re doing “the weight done gone crazy” thing again. My Emotional Mind was freakin’ out…so I asked my husband to bring me some smokes on his way home. I told my family and my friend that I would quit smoking AGAIN once my weight was under control and to NOT BRING SWEETS INTO THE HOUSE if they wanted me to stay off smoking. Our recovery has to be a family affair…our support people need to support us and to help keep our environment as temptation free as possible. Very few people will recover if they live in an environment filled with temptation. That’s why we’re told that we have to change people, places, and things.

Okay…a few weeks went by and I quit again. I quit for five days and I started smoking again because I was stressed out at work…and just because I wanted to. It wasn’t about weight…it was about MY WANTS. I WANTED to smoke.

So, now here we are at Saturday, May 23rd, 2009. I’ve quit AGAIN. I’ve been off cigarettes since Tuesday, May 19th when I went back to work after a long weekend. The week went well, though Tuesday at 4pm when it was getting close to quitting time (at work), I was thinking about the 23 minute drive home and how I could stop off and pick up some smokes…and how nice that would be. I thought about how much I REALLY WANTED a cigarette…and how I was really “Jones-ing” to smoke.

As I sat on the pot at work…my Emotional Mind and Rational Mind was battling it out. My Emotional Mind desire was to smoke. My Rational Mind was fighting hard to talk me out of it and my Wise Mind was telling me to GET THROUGH THE MOMENT…go straight home…you’ll be alright…you’ve done great all day. My Emotional Mind was coming up with all these schemes to smoke, like “I could just smoke at night…and not smoke during the day.” and, “Remember, I don’t want to live ‘til I’m 90 and have to live in a nursing home…if I smoke, I’ll die in my 70’s and not have to deal with that misery…and it’ll be better for my family that way.”

Well, Rational Mind fought back and told me, “It’s an Emotion-Driven Lie to think that you’ll just smoke in the evenings…that may work one day and then you’ll be back to smoking full-time AGAIN…that’s bull Sheets.” Finally, after conducting this fierce battle over the porcelain pot, my Rational Mind spoke again in my sister’s tone of voice…and said, “Think about what you’re doing to your lungs.” – oh thanks a lot for that Rational Mind…spoil my fun. Then, my own voice kicked in with Rational Mind and asked, “What do you desire more…to be a smoker…or a non-smoker?”

Well, that was a defining moment for me…and I said in a strong voice (inside my head)…”I most desire to be a non-smoker.” and…that was it…I sighed deeply, flushed, and went on with my evening. I drove right home and it was wild…while I waited at the Walmart light, it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought about cigarettes until just that moment when I thought about not thinking about cigarettes. That was pretty cool!

I’ve done great until today, Saturday…the 23rd as referenced above. I’ve gained three pounds because it’s that time of the month. At the beginning of this most recent non-smoking attempt, Wise Mind suggested that I wouldn’t start freakin’ out until I gained 8 pounds…to give myself a larger window before taking action! I weighed one more pound on Wedn morning, one more on Thurs…and one more on Friday. I was the same weight this morning.

That should be exciting because maybe the monthly weight gain is slowing down…and the eating an extra 100-200 calories a day not smoking isn’t adding up too fast. My Emotional Mind was a bit disappointed…because if I would have gained another pound or two, I could have smoked again. I was actually disappointed. I even weighed a second time just to be sure. Aren’t we sick?! I say “we”…because we folks who struggle with recovery do all sorts of things to sabotage ourselves…so we can return to our habits and addictions.

Of course, I was Mindful of my mind games and reminded myself that I want MORE to be a non-smoker, save the money, breathe better, it’s more professional, I don’t want to be burdened with the habit and the NEED to smoke when it’s inconvenient and I’m going to be late for a meeting, I’m smoking up my book profits, God’s been good to me and look how I’m taking care of his blessing….etc. I also reminded myself that I told my Group on Wednesday about what helped me to win the relapse battle on Tuesday (what do I desire more)…and how awful it would be…to have to let my Group down by telling them that I’m smoking again. What a horrible example that is. What a hypocrite I would be. I’m encouraging them to change everything in their lives as they try to quit life-encompassing habits like drugs and alcohol…and I can’t overcome smoking. All these Rational Mind thoughts attacked that sick Emotional Mind Game…but, I did think that I could just not smoke in the mornings…that I wouldn’t smell like smoke during Group…and if they asked, I could lie. The faces, the stories, and the hearts of some of my Group Members flashed through my mind…and the guilt trumped my desire to smoke.

Today is Saturday and it’s a time when I spend long hours on the computer. It’s a time when I really enjoy smoking…one cigarette after another. It’s a very convenient and relaxing time to smoke. So, today has been tough. I’m glad I have no smokes at home, I’m glad the store is about 10 minutes and a major hassle away…and that I hate leaving my home on my day off…and my husband hasn’t said, “I’m going to the store, want anything?” I did hear my boy ask his Dad if he was going to “Buffalo Fina” after he drove to a friend’s home to feed their horses. Thank goodness, my husband said, “No, I haven’t thought about it.” Thank goodness I didn’t say, “Hey, could you pick me up a pack of smokes.” I’ve had to remind myself so many times today what it is that I really want…and it’s to be a non-smoker.

I ate fine today…but a part of me wishes I will have gained an extra pound in the morning. I did pray this time around for God to help me through this. I told him that unlike in the past, I may not be able to do this on my own this time…that it was getting harder. I’m off work tomorrow and Monday…Memorial Day weekend. Lord, keep me focused…keep me Mindful of what my goals are…help me through the rough moments…and help me to be bursting with pride and excitement on Tuesday when my Group asks, “Did ya’ smoke?”…and I can say “Came close…came real close, but worked through the moment…for hours and hours over that long weekend!” See me through this Lord, Amen. This makes me smile and gives me hope that I’ll make it through. I don’t want to be a disappointment to others…I want to be an inspiration.

UPDATE: 5-26-09 (Tuesday)
I think I made it through! Got through the long weekend WITHOUT smoking. Had several tough moments each day…really desired to smoke…but used all my Rational Mind – Wise Mind – Talking Myself Through the Moments skills to make it through. Been off cigarettes 8 days now…guess I saved about $40. Almost enough to purchase another pair of boots off Ebay! I’ve probably made it through the toughest point…the long weekend. I bet I can be done with cigarettes…if I choose to be.

Something my patients taught me is that we don’t just relapse when bad things happen…we also relapse when positive things happen…that fun, excitement, good news, and similar positive experiences are also a relapse trigger. I’ve twice experienced this during my 5-6 attempts at not smoking this year. About 2 weeks ago, I relapsed into smoking following an exciting event (good news) and great news this weekend just about sent me to the store to buy some smokes. Celebrating, partying, drinking….and smoking all go together. Add to that the memories of the best times as a kid…often involved smoking, too…and drinking…and partying! It’s just Emotional Mind experience that we have to talk ourselves through. Some Rational Mind statements for me include…”That was then, this is now…those WERE some fun, carefree times. Life is different now. Smoking is a bad thing for me now.” “I MOST DESIRE not to smoke. I want to be a non-smoker more than I want to smoke.” “This moment will pass…I’ll get my mind involved in my work in a few minutes…and I’ll be okay for awhile.” “I want to be an inspiration to people, not a disappointment.”

By the way, my weight is good…have only gained 1 pound during “this time of the month.” I worked harder on my eating this weekend so I wouldn’t have an excuse to start smoking! I was very Mindful of my Mind Games! I made a point of putting up food my family left on the counter so I wouldn’t snack on it all day! I also ate a bunch of sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds SEEM to reduce my appetite. They’re also good cuz they give my mouth and hands something to do…a fine replacement for cigarettes. You know what else I might try…pomegranate seeds. They make for quite a bit of hand and mouth work!!! I haven’t eaten those since I was a kid! Oh Lord, I cannot cycle back to fond memories as a kid and smoking! Man, our Emotional Mind is relentless!

Copyright Statement: Material contained within this blog is copyrighted protected with all rights reserved © Melanie Gordon Sheets commencing in 2009 and extending through the present age. Please request permission to quote or otherwise use material obtained from this blog by emailing: service@dbt-cbt-workbook.com

Please visit the website www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com for more information about the DBT-CBT Workbook. The full title is “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” – Recovery Works Publications, 2009.

Pride vs. Humility…You Must Be So Proud of Yourself

I’ve had to ponder an awkward moment recently.  A lady I know from the Youth Horseman Club my family belongs to asked me if I had finished my book yet.  I told her I had and she asked if I had  copy she could look at.  I gave her a copy and a few hours later, she came up to me and excitedly said, “You must be so proud of yourself.”  It was an awkward moment because I didn’t respond.  I began thinking about that.  Unless I’m really anxious, I’m not one to just blurt out an impulsive response.  The moment passed and probably due to the awkward nature of my silence, she went on to something else.  Because I don’t know her so well, it bothered me as I processed the day later.  “What did she think?  It was so unnatural.”  I pondered it of course…and I’m stunned that I don’t feel proud.  I SHOULD BE so proud of myself.  I SHOULD be walking around “with the Big-Head” for awhile.  But, I didn’t feel PROUD…and I still don’t!

Rather than feeling proud, I feel like I have accomplished something. I worked my butt off, I labored….I put in THOUSANDS of hours. I worked hard, so I accomplished something. For some reason, that doesn’t equate to feeling proud of myself. I earned it, it didn’t come easy…I accomplished something. I put in the hours, I got something done.  I feel “even”…not proud.

I also feel like it was in the realm of something I could do, that I had skills for…so it was an expected outcome…

The other thing I thought about is that I strongly dislike people who are “so proud of themselves.”  Their pride is usually ugly…it often involves devaluing others. They feel superior to others…I don’t feel superior to others…I feel like I worked my tail off and I got something done. If everyone worked their tail off, they’d get something done. It’s not a matter of being superior to others…it’s a matter of being focused and dogged determined to get something done.

I also think about this project as being God-driven…and many times, I experienced it to be a “not me” experience…a “where did that come from” experience. Sometimes, I’d finish writing a section and fall back in my chair…and I’d say, “God, that was good.” Then, recognizing what had just happened, my next thought was usually, “God…that was good! That was awesome! That was really great! Thank you, God.” I had the moment of realization that what just went through my head and onto the computer screen…DID NOT originate in MY head! I recognized who authored the passage! In case I lost you here, I recognized that God wrote the really great parts of the book, not me. So, I don’t feel proud…I just feel like I put in the labor…that I worked hard!

The other thing I think about…is that God wants me humble. He wants me to love and respect his people…not to put myself on a pedestal…and to consider other people less than me. I think God gave me these types of skills, and these types of experiences, to equip me to do this…and when I accomplish this…that means I have accomplished something that was set out for me to do. It was expected. I don’t feel proud… I feel like I accomplished something I was supposed to do.

Now that I’m finished with the task…God is giving me some rest! I don’t feel driven, I don’t feel pressured, I feel relieved.

People ask me if I’m going to write another one. Though I can’t imagine ever being driven enough or crazy enough to do something like this again…I know it’s down the road for me. “When?” they ask…”When God lays the pressure on me again…and the only peace I get…is by working my tail off.” I’ve told people before that I feel like I was born to work…but at least I get some periods of rest now and then!

Copyright Statement: Material contained within this blog is copyrighted protected with all rights reserved © Melanie Gordon Sheets commencing in 2009 and through the present age. Please request permission to quote or otherwise use material obtained from this blog by emailing: service@dbt-cbt-workbook.com

Please visit the website www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com for more information about the DBT-CBT Workbook – full title “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior.

Gettin’ Started – An Awkward Moment!

Not being an experienced blogger, this seems quite awkward.  However, I’m doing it anyway.  I have just published a DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook and everyone tells me I have to do a blog!  As might be expected, I am a clinical psychologist.  I work for the State of Texas at Big Spring State Hospital.  I’ve just celebrated my 20th year with the State.  That means I’m not a spring chicken anymore…but it also means I have 15 hours of vacation time per month (yea!) and I’ll be retiring…in 8 years!  That probably seems like a VERY long time for younger folks, but for the older folks, it’ll fly by!  Time really seems to go by faster the older we get…maybe that’s just because we don’t remember so much about everything that happened in between the years!

I thought I would write about the new understandings my patients teach me…and the new understandings I come to by working with them.  I also thought about sharing some of my own struggles and experiences to show that we’re all human…that we all struggle with our humanity.  We all have emotional issues and concerns…and the task we have in life is to work hard to deal with ourselves…and to do the best we can to be okay…and to help others along the way!

I hope you enjoy the blog!

Copyright Statement: Material contained within this blog is copyrighted protected with all rights reserved © Melanie Gordon Sheets commencing in 2009 and extending through the present age. Please request permission to quote or otherwise use material obtained from this blog by emailing us at:
service@dbt-cbt-workbook.com

Please visit the website www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com for more information about the DBT-CBT Workbook. The full title is “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” – Recovery Works Publications, 2009.