Monday, July 5, 2010

Making peace with some of my exes

So, here I go, into another post-holiday work week.

My kitty Tiggy is on my lap, my coffee is at my right hand, and the sounds of KUSC are wafting through my home office. Eventually, I'll put myself together and venture forth to see some clients, do some work-related errands, and then come back here to what I've come to think of as my "command center."

As you can guess, I like words--their origins, and how they are constructed. They can be masterfully woven into so many patterns, morphing fluidly, almost imperceptibly, like the subtle hues and undertones of an oil painting. In one's observation of the interplay, one can get swept up into it without even being aware...

Words take on lives of their own. Propaganda (social, religious, political), print ads, the conversations we have throughout our lives. Like the visual stimulus of the oil painting, each leaves its "thumbprint" on our psyche--positively or negatively. They carry what we therapists sometimes call "feeling-tones." If you remember the last time someone said something either really loving, or really hurtful, you can probably remember not only the words, the tone, but also the impact, both emotionally and physically.

That's why we therapists are concerned with issues like verbal abuse, or the systemic (and often dysfunctional) way couples or families communicate with each other. With each word, and its reaction from another person (think of Newton's third law of physics), reality is being created and built upon (word-by-word, one "brush stroke" at a time).

The same principle applies with our inner dialogues. It's so important to look at how we take care of ourselves by our inner messages. Let me share some:

The prefix "ex" is defined as "outside, or away from." When I hear this, my mind conjures up almost anime-like fonts and colors, harsh blood-red and black.

EX - cuse, EX - clude, EX - cess, EX - haust

Could these words might suggest that we spend much time putting our cognitive and emotional powers outside ourselves, to leave it up to others (like our families, coworkers, significiant others)how we react to our world? At any time in human history, this time most of all, such learned helpless is dangerous.

But--here's another "ex" -- ex - ist, "to have actual being." Some teachers would include this in their lessons about mindfulness.

My point is that we all have life-long relationships with these "exes," and still others. It's up to each of us to become conscious of them and form appropriate ways to deal with them.

We'll talk about this, and other things, more...

Have an aware day.
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