positive thinking was not what i needed — this video explains why

It’s not that I don’t believe in the power of our thoughts, but I have also definitely experienced the immoral potential of positive thinking the video at the link below is talking about. Emotionally repressive, ignorant, insensitive, isolating, and invalidating. Probably not the intention in most cases, but almost every day, I still hear snippets of this, and have to remind myself what it is for me.

Unfortunately, this was my experience of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I didn’t need to change how I was feeling; I just needed to understand what my feelings were responding to, and be validated for feeling that way. That my feelings were normal and healthy, and that there is actually nothing distorted in my view of reality, and there never has been. I realize this might not be true for everyone, but for me, my feelings were a normal response to an abnormal situation; the only way through the feelings has been to feel them, and appreciate how normal they are. CBT did not honour that for me; instead, my experience was that CBT was saying my feelings were the problem. Depression, anxiety — they were something to be gotten rid of, not honoured and listened to! Talk about the OPPOSITE of what I needed …!

Change my thoughts, change my feelings, change my behaviours.

Would you tell that to someone in grief? Probably not. I didn’t need to change anything; I just needed to feel, grieve, understand. That was the way through it for me.

And so here is a link to the video that spurred this whole out-pouring. Enjoy! Tell me what you think! This could be an interesting discussion …

Why the religion of positive thinking needs to be burned at the stake

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Shame and Attachment — from Attachment Disorder Maryland

Shame and Attachment

The page linked above is talking about ‘wishing to disappear’, states of experiencing the world in slow motion, and the endless cycle of sabotage. I’ve possibly never been so relieved to identify so deeply …

Description: The feeling of shame can be described as a sense of smallness, worthlessness, and powerlessness in a given situation.  …  It is triggered by a “perceived” break in one’s connectedness to others or to oneself. This is compounded by feeling exposed and extremely concerned about another’s evaluation of oneself.  Shame can be defined as the emotional experience of another’s devaluation or disgust, real or imagined. It is a self-absorbed, self-centered, and isolating experience.  While acutely feeling shame, an individual is not considering the implications of his behavior for others, but is focused solely on the possible impact on self.  Shame essentially splits a person into both an “observer” and “the one being observed”.  The observer part witnesses and criticizes the part being observed.  Sometimes, the presence of another is not even required to generate shame.

Shame & behavior:  Shame is self-perpetuating.  Internalized shame tends to induce behavior in the future that will lead to an outcome of further shame.  This is not recognized at the time.  The original motive for the behavior appears to have nothing to do with shame.  Yet, shame invariably results, and this final outcome indicates the true, underlying motive for the behavior as being the generation of shame, rather than the prior illusory motive.  Behavioral attempts to escape shame always work this way.  This can easily lead to an upwards spiral as increasing amounts of shame accumulate within which then fuels further shame-creating behavior.  …

Systemic impact:  Shame is more than a feeling.  It is an entire organismic state that affects multiple systems in the body.  Shame operates at primitive levels below the reach of rational thinking.  Shame brings with it a subjective sense of time slowing down which serves to magnify anything that occurs during a state of shame.  It also is accompanied by intensified feedback from all perceptual modalities, particularly autonomic reactions such as blushing, sweating, and increased heart rate.  These autonomic reactions induce a state of heightened bodily awareness which combines with the slowed sense of time to produce the extreme self-consciousness that is a part of feeling shame.

Shame and trauma:  Shame both mirrors trauma and is bound up with it.  Much of the power of what we term traumatic events lies in the shame bound up with these events.  Through traumatic events, perpetrators can download their own shame onto the victim who ends up being pervaded by it.  For the victim, this becomes an experience of powerlessness or helplessness.  Perceptions of being powerless create shame, for the self is seen as being weak / ineffective.  This often leads children to vow to “do it right” the next time in an attempt to overcome the trauma and prevent further trauma.  This can easily evolve into a perfectionistic stance which, in the end, only fuels the shame, as perfectionism generally guarantees failure.

Shame signals:  In addition to aversion to all eye contact, shame can manifest as fragmented thought and speech including: pauses, repetitions, false starts, inaudible voice level, and unclear diction.  All of these are common with AD children.  Subjectively this often gets reported as “going blank”, somewhat like dissociation.

Coping Defenses: The primary defenses for handling shame are denial, dissociation from all feeling states, splitting, withdrawal, perfectionism, entitlement, externalization, rage-driven behavior, pre-emptive shaming of oneself, and inability to give or receive praise.  With repeated use, these defenses, like all defenses, can function so quickly that the child never even consciously experiences any shame….

… Attempting to counter all this with positive reassurance is potentially damaging, for it can accentuate the shame by being so at odds with the self-image, and it can make the person offering such feedback seem completely out of touch to the AD child.

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the silenced inner scape


Isolation (Photo credit:

the terror i felt at the feeling
that no one took the inner
side of me seriously
and no one ever would
no one even saw it
no one ever responded

my inner reactions are wrong
they are not real

beyond the defectiveness
and unloveability
and fortotten-ness
beyond the abandon-ness
and hopelessness
there was a silent, deafening
physically threatening
invisible terror

i learned to pretend it wasn't there
and do greatness at all costs
my greatness was pretended
even in crisis
even when i was abused
even when i was suicidal

such shocking aloneness
i have known

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timid child


INNOCENCE/GUILT (Photo credit: ~fyrfli~)

timid child
so much fear i've been living with
feeling unsafe and doing it anyway
so much energy that took, for so long
trying to have courage
think positively
don't listen to the darkness
you can do anything
you're special.

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way of council

Last Wednesday, i began a series of about 10 weeks of therapy every week, alternating between group and individual sessions.

I feel very lucky; not many people get this experience here, without paying for it themselves.

So, I have moved out from my Mom’s place, replaced my car, and begun this intensive period of therapy. I am beyond broke, currently living off what little I’d saved for my training in Systemic Family Constellations, which also begins this month. ‘Hoping to sell my car and a couple of other random items in the next week or so.

My first therapy session in these series was a clearing with my regular therapist, using the technique of Way of Council, with the assistance of another therapist. Both are also trained in Heart Centred Hypnotherapy, and this was also part of the session.

These are the notes the Way of Council therapist made on the session, and I wanted to put an image to them, do something with them other than have them on a lined piece of scrap paper lying around.

Next week, I begin the group therapy, which is a Way of Council group, for patients of my therapist only.


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what’s up, on the inside

I received this last night from a fellow member of CoDA:

I hope you are feeling way better today than last night, it was visible, at least for me.
(…) The other thing that I can’t get out of my head is your telling us about your humiliation, feeling that the world is watching you, waiting to see you fail at what everybody is expected to master : Life.  – What is ‘succeeding at life’ ? How is it measured in the first place, and who is authorized to judge success or failure ?
Let me tell you a little secret: Before the meeting started, I overheard  a few women talking about you. Yes You. “Where is (Innerlight), is she coming ?”  “I would miss her”  “We all would”   “She said she would probably take it easy, she is too busy with her private program” There you have it.  Everybody likes you!  Me included.  THAT is the best proof that you have already succeeded at life ! What more can a person wish for, than being loved by many people?  Please put that on your balance sheet, on the credit side. Judging from the few times I have heard you speak, I cannot say that I know you, but you have a lot going for yourself. The most obvious are your intelligence and charisma. How could you not succeed ?

My reply:

First of all, I want you to know that it is extremely comforting for me to hear that people were talking about me before I came in. I can’t feel this or know this unless someone tells me. It’s also extremely comforting that my dis-comfort was visible to at least one person, and that there is a response, instead of disregarding or dismissing it as not serious. So thank you for taking the time to write.

I remember that you first wrote me about the program wanting to learn more about the condition of your partner at the time – more her than you.  Without having met her, I think I am probably similar to her in many ways; and you may be looking for some insights and answers, as well as coming from a caring place. I appreciate what I hear as you wanting to understand something in me; also though, in my experience, the people I am most taken by / pissed off by / obsessed with are reflecting something about myself that I am desperate to understand … So, I am responding to that curiosity in you, hoping that my experience may shed some light on whatever that curiosity is in you. That’s the beauty of CoDA to me. So …

You ask how I could not succeed? Well, I ask myself that question a lot, and I am just as baffled as you are, and that’s what makes me feel humiliated and hopeless to the point of wanting to off myself.

You have managed to capture the essence of exactly the dis-ease in me. The disparity between external and internal realities. The fact that I am gifted in so many ways, AND that I also spend birthdays and holidays alone, have no family, career, home, job, etc. I have a community life, and I participate in things, but struggle for friends to do things with, that other people often take for granted, like go to concerts or on camping trips or Sunday brunch, etc.

All my life this has happened. Sometimes it seems I have no excuse for not succeeding and yet I keep getting stuck at this place. 

If I was missing a limb, or more obviously mentally ill, it would be so much easier to forgive myself; but seem to have everything and not be able to make something of it after several crashes and re-starts, and therapy and self-help work?

As our fellow member George put it, I’m apparently fine because I ‘think’ about what is going on. And yet, I have to disagree with that statement. As I wrote earlier in my recovery, “I am alive during the operation of living.” Just because I can articulate it all doesn’t mean I am any safer or in any less pain than the person who can’t. In fact, I would almost rather be the person who is not aware of all this.

I am not crazy enough to belong in the psych ward; yet I am not sane enough to thrive in life and provide for myself. This is a very dark place. There is a part of me who is willing to die in order to communicate this pain and more-importantly, end it.

I have been diagnosed with Bipolar II, General Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Mixed Personality Disorder for this condition — the extraordinary contrast of realities in me and the paralyzation this creates. It is disabling. In these moments, I truly do feel disabled. It is not a nice feeling.

If I did manage to off myself, people would be baffled and bewildered and dismayed and probably blame me. The part of me that is hurting just wants to be heard, so desperately that it may kill me.

For the past month or so, I have been hearing a scream in my mind. There is a part of me that is screaming with this paralysis and humiliation I feel that has been gradually and steadily building up in my mind again. It is familiar.

What is not familiar is me talking about it with fellow people in recovery. I am noticing where my thoughts are going, and speaking them so that they are not a secret. That is something I have never done before. I am aware of the crisis line number here. And so, I give it over to my higher power to solve, and that is all I can do for this moment. One day at a time is all there ever is.

It’s been healing for me to write all this.

May it be of service in the Greatest way.

Be well, and let’s all take care of each other, everyone.