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willingness & radical acceptance

My dbt (dialectical behaviour therapy) group was talking about two subjects today that I find myself still talking about tonight.

The first was willingness vs. willfulness, where willfullness is the resistance we come up with to avoid change and trying new things. There was a true or false question: T or F — A person who is willful is trying to be argumentative and difficult on purpose. The answer of course is false, that there is deep and old pain and trauma in our resistance that is demanding to be heard. That to say that a willful person is trying to be difficult is not a compassionate or at all effective stance to take.

The second was radical acceptance. Ah yes. I was trying to explain what radical acceptance is to my Mom tonight, and came up with this:

  1. The ability to shift our expectations of a person or situation to see what is, instead of what we think should be, accept that reality, release the feelings of anguish.
  2. Accept what is by trusting that it is divine right action, guided by our higher power, who is always and forever looking after our highest purpose, greatest ultimate joy and satisfaction in life.

I think this definition is still in progress, but that’s it so far.



diary card experiment — posting #2

Inspired by the diary cards used in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, as well as notes and techniques from a dear friend of mine with several years of intensive trauma therapy on me and a diagnosis of PTSD; I began using diary cards, and posted an earlier version, in December (still and always a work in progress).

updated diary card

updated diary cardI actually only typed it up and named the sections for the purpose of this blog, so you could actually read it 🙂 Here's an example of how I actually use the diary card in my notebook, which is one that I use only for this purpose:

a day in the book of diary cards

a day in the book of diary cards

  1. General Rating: Rating these aspects helps me to recognize how i am feeling and know when i need to call on my supports or tools of self care, or simply ask myself why i am feeling this way.
  2. Grattitudes: Listing the things I am grateful for reminds me that there are things to be grateful for, helps me remember the good parts of my day and the revelations I have had that affirm that I am growing and making progress.
  3. Prayers: Writing down my prayers is becoming a way to connect with my authentic self – what she wants, what is in her heart, making her feel heard. It also reminds me that I don’t have to overcome things alone and I can ask for help. it develops a sense of faith in life and resiliency in myself, that I am not helpless no matter what is happening.
  4. Activities: Listing the things I have accomplished in my day, or how I spent my time helps me develop and maintain a sense of purpose and validates my day. It can alleviate the feeling that my days are slipping away and i have no idea what i have done with the time or any sense of moving forward. I don’t just list productive things here, in the traditional sense of the word; but anything that i found worthwhile in terms of joy, connection, fulfillment, growth, healing or satisfaction.
  5. To-Do: Listing all the things that are on my mind to do helps free my mind space and relax me, knowing I have a list so I don’t have to remember everything that needs doing. It also helps to focus me in my day when i read it the next morning.

Overall, I find that diary cards are a dose of validation and self-identification – who am I, what drives me, what are my strengths, what is in my heart, and how am I really doing. They are a reminder of the things that are most important in life, which are also the things that are easiest to forget — the things my recovery friends and I know to remind each other of if we are not in a good place with ourselves and the world. this is a big part of my spirituality.

Do you journal or record your day in some way? What is spirituality to you and how does it help you?

my diary card notebook

my diary card notebook

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core beliefs: making sense of the chaos

Parts of my story are revealing themselves. Not the physical who’s and what’s but the internal experience of the events in my life, while looking at Core Beliefs and how they were formed in me.

The situation that caused me to remove myself this spring was a “damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t”. It was a gradual build-up that crescendo’d, as everything in my life became unbearable and my authentic self seemed to be demanding I:

change.         everything.            leave.             everything.

my marriage, my job, my career identity, my home, my geographical location and a $50,000 national scholarship award for leadership.

leaving all these things at once was unbearable, and felt impossible with the level of cumulative stress and exhaustion i was feeling. who in their right mind would leave all these things at once? and yet, not leaving them was also unbearable.

I’ve spent my whole life with one foot on the ledge of validating the dysfunction in my present life, and one foot on the ledge of needing to have it validated for me. All the common affirmations of “seeing things in a more positive light”, “not focusing too much or dwelling on the negative” and “not being too hard on myself” are what have kept me straddled between the two realities.

By the time of my crescendo, I had lived in one place for long enough that I felt enough people were “on” to the negative core beliefs I was hiding / over-compensating for / resisting through positive thinking, for me to feel humiliated and isolated; yet no one would tell this to my face. Once again, I didn’t know what to believe. The crevice between the two worlds — 1) There’s nothing wrong with me; it’s how I’m choosing to see myself and 2) There IS something wrong with me and I need to get honest with myself and others and stop over-compensating — this crevice opened up wide, and I fell down the middle because I couldn’t decide.

Looking back on my childhood tonight, I wrote:

I was repeatedly, and then traumatically, invalidated and abandoned. The foundation of my ability to perceive reality was neglected, bombed and then left to rot. Inside me there is this chronic landscape of the aftermath; rubble, chaotic and desolate disarray.

I think this might be my own personal description of bdp. another one floating around in my brain lately is that I am awake during the operation of living — the anaesthetic didn’t work, but no one knows. i wish i could stop pretending to be asleep.

what’s your definition?