Think about your thoughts …

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Our minds control our lives.

We often say to other people  “Try not to think about it” , “Don’t be so negative” or “Try to be positive.”  What we are really saying is, “Change your thoughts and perceptions about the situation.”

We often reflect with our words the reality that most of our experiences are based on our thoughts and perceptions.  Our lives are basically dictated by the ideas and concepts we have in our minds.  The interesting thing is that most of the time we do not realize it.

Our minds are so powerful, and yet we don’t recognize that we can control it so that we can control our circumstances.  In other words, we are able to change the way we think if we choose to.

The challenge comes when we unconsciously identify with whatever it is that we have chosen to value in our lives.  And we identify with it simply because we do not want to accept the inevitable fact of our mortality.  And it becomes an automatic habit which we do not rethink about.  It is normal to perceive ourselves as white, black, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, a teacher, a construction worker, a mom, a dad,  a Cubs fan, an American, a soldier, etc.  It makes us who (we think) we are.

In previous blog posts, I have talked about how our thoughts and ideas can be used to feed our ego, which is the fabricated self that we keep nurturing in order to avoid thinking about our own mortality.

So we choose, or we are taught to identify with, a family name, a particular race, ethnicity, political party, profession, etc.  Simply because we want to maintain ourselves distracted and entertained with identities that help us feel alive and valued.   In other words, away from the reality of our death, the ultimate unknown.  So we keep deceiving ourselves.

Also, when we say “Good luck!” or “I’ll pray for you!”, we are basically saying that, because we cannot control or directly intervene with a difficult situation, we wish someone else a favorable outcome by thinking they may receive some assistance from an outside source beyond our control.  In other words, I cannot help you directly, but I am claiming that somehow you receive some help beyond my human capacity.

So, pay attention to what you think.   Review and contemplate on how each statement you  make can reflect the fear of the unknown.  Fear of your mortality.

Think about your thoughts.

 

 

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Identifying with the Self: Part Two 

 I had a counseling session with one of my clients.  She is a cutter and was questioning whether or not she would be getting any better in her life.  She was comparing herself with others who also receive therapy and who seem to be getting better faster. My client thought she was not improving like she should and asked about the concept of PTSD and resistance to treatment.

I try to explain to her that PTSD involves living in the past after a traumatic experience… versus learning from the past without necessarily reliving the past.  When we experience PTSD , we tend get stuck in the past and not move forward.  When the pain is avoided then we continue to experience PTSD and continue to relive the past and experience an emotional cycle which is nourished by substance-abuse, self harming behavior, and depression.

On the other hand, when we learn about the past, we develop new skills and we develop new ways to cope with the upsetting memories.  One of the ways is to talk about it, process feelings, write about it, and accept the fact that the pain was done.   When we choose to develop new skills and process feelings by accepting the pain, then we begging to acknowledge that it was a difficult time in our life and be able to move forward with new skills.

And then there was the question of why she is still cutting when she’s in her 50s now, when most of the cutters are either teenagers or young adults.

Then a lightbulb turned on in my head. I asked my client who she would identify as and she could not answer the question.  She first said “I’m already in my 50s why am I asking this question now? ” Then I asked her to not think about her current age but to focus on the question itself : who am I?

The observation that most cutters are teenagers or young adults gave me the idea that, since she has always been dependent on others to tolerate her who she is and what to do with my life, that sounds almost like what teenagers and young adults do in the early lives.

Basically my client is experiencing what most teenagers and young adults experience : finding their identities in life, facing the unknown after depending on the parents.  My client said she always depended on her parents and she was taking care of and nourished as a child even during her adulthood.  This can explain why she has difficulty identifying who she is now in her 50s. I explained that most of us experience the same identity crisis in different times of our lives. Most of us identify with what we have been assigned to be, for example our names, our ethnicity, our gender, and our religion. But we ultimately face a time in life, usually during young adulthood, where we start questioning  our assigned entities and find our own identities. And maybe that’s what my client is experiencing at the present moment.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, we mostly live inside our heads. Inside our thoughts and perceptions. We rarely get out of our thoughts and face reality. We don’t usually live in the present moment.  But we rather stay living inside our heads.  Inside our minds. But we rarely step aside and start perceiving ourselves as we really are.

Have the rest of us done the same thing in our lives?  Have we taken the bold step of “peeling the onion” all the way until we find our true selves?

In my own experience , that “true self” remains a mystery.  It remains a great part of the unknown, which is why I tend to ignore it and replace it with all the entities I have been taught to identify with.

I have learned to identify with being a Hispanic middle age male, an American, a mental health professional, a  Florida resident, a parent, a husband, a son, and many other entities.  All of these I can question and deny if I choose to.  What I have not identified with as much is what can never question or deny.

My true self.

But what is the true self?  Is it simply being human? Being a person? After all, isn’t that what we all have in common? Identifying with being Human beings ? Anything else could be used to separate and segregate us.  But being humans could only keep us united.

Life summarized 

This existence seems to be merely an awareness based on fabricated thoughts and individualized perceptions we call “reality” that dictates most of our behaviors.  This overall existence called “life” is mostly preferred over the notion of “death” because we usually don’t want to acknowledge the inevitable end of this perceived existence.

We choose what we believe, many times without realizing it, and continue our existence as if what we believe is an ultimate truth.   We deceive ourselves with fantasies and illusions that nourish our egos and makes us feel secure and important… but it is all an attempt to distract us from our destiny: death.

We tend to want to belong to some kind of group and community , creating societies, in order to feel secured and protected (trying to recreate the experience inside the womb).   But we often fail to realize and accept the fact that we are simply deceiving ourselves.  Unconsciously afraid of facing the reality of our mortality.

And because of this profound fear, we continue our journey of biased perceptions attempting to maintain a state of awareness we call “happiness”, not realizing that it depends solely on circumstances that we choose to cherish.

This existence is slowly decaying and shutting down.  This awareness will eventually cease to be present and we will  not even know it has happened.  All we can be aware of is what is experienced at the present moment.  Right now.

Think about it.

 

 

 

Trophies

 

What kind of trophy have you given yourself or wish to have?  We don’t have to participate in a sport game or any tournament in order to receive a trophy. They come in all forms.

We enjoy having trophies about pretty much everything in life.  We give ourselves a trophy when we adorned our homes  with pictures, wear fancy clothes, and hang certificates.  We also give ourselves trophies whenever we receive compliments through greeting cards and raises.

Our egos are nourished  when we receive or give ourselves any of these kinds of trophies.  They are basically extensions of our egos.  And they help us feel special and inflated.  It encourages the false self that we like to identify with. Our trophies help to hide the flaws, the limitations, and the imperfections that shape our human nature.   It prevents us from having to look our selves in the mirror and be honest about our intentions.    Our trophies make us feel distracted and proud.  It makes us feel supernatural.

But what is the ultimate outcome of our trophies? Nothing at all. Because they are just a tool that amplifies our illusions. Our fantasises. They are empty decorations that will remain useless once we depart this earth. But in the mean time, we continue to fool ourselves by believing we are special and invisibles, through our trophies.

The danger of exclusivity

I drive down the street and I see another car with a bumper sticker that says : “There is only one” with an American flag on it…

Then I ask myself “only one what…?”

People from this “American” culture have learned to believe that they are unique… special… exclusive … The same thing occurs with people who have adopted an exclusive way of perceiving their race, culture, religion, ect.

It is dangerous to insist that whatever we want to represent us is the “one and only”.   It conpartmentalizes us.

It divides us.  Makes us proud.  Puts us on a pedestal. 

It creates an “us versus them ” mentality.   It makes us arrogant.

When we choose to believe that the divine being we put our faith in is the only one,

When we choose to think that the government we are governed by should govern all other lands,

When we choose to adopt a way of life, and believe it is the best one,

And when we choose to use a particular way of perceiving the world, and believe is the ultimate purpose in life,

then we set ourselves for failure.  We start to crumble as human beings.

And we stop being free.

Some drawings to share….

Just wanted to share some of the drawings I have done on my new journal.  Each drawing has a message for the reader.  I will share more as I complete others.  Feel free to critique and comment.

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This one represents the struggle I have experienced between the traditional, religious and rigid way of thinking, versus the inclusive, spiritual, and free way of thinking. Notice that the right side has plenty of space, which is the emptiness I needed to grow.

 

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“Voices of Mental Illness” represents the torment that some people with this disease go through.

 

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This is my first work on the journal. It speaks for itself.

 

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This is the latest drawing on the journal. I started with simply the face…. then I decided to add the figure on the left.

 

You know you just turned 40 ….

You know you just turned 40…
When people start to make comments about your gray hair.
When you have to briefly take you glasses off when reading something close.
When heart burn begins to keep you up at night .
When you have to go to the bathroom more frequently.
When wrinkles start to slowly appear on your face.
When exercise is no longer fun.
When you find yourself raising kids while taking care of aging parents.
When taking naps become a necessity.
When cashier no longer asks for your picture ID when buying alcohol.                   When you start losing your train of thought too often.

Any other hints about reaching 40…?