Self Help Activity 1: Write About Healthy Parts of You & Less Positive Behaviors

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C.

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Reminder: In order to honor our group process we ask that only current ASCA workbook group members post and respond here please.  If you would like to join in at this time or a later date please send the moderator a PM.  Thank you.

Note:  Your recovery is unique to you.  These topics and activities are suggestions.  Please feel free to do and respond to those that work for you at this time.

1.   In your journal, describe both the healthy parts of yourself that you want to acknowledge and strengthen over time and the less positive tendencies and behaviors that still plague your life today. Continue to focus your awareness on how these parts play themselves out in your life and what you can do to emphasize the positive ones while diminishing the negative ones.

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C.

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I've noticed that the current challenging behavior for me is when I freeze when someone is inappropriate.  This happens periodically at work.  I think I try to be assertive, but a few people are more towards the aggression end of the spectrum, so it doesn't work.  Then I think about it and come back later with ideas on how to talk to them.  I'd like to be able to think on my feet a little more quickly and assert in the moment.  I am also patient w/myself b/c I know that freezing means that something is wrong and I need to assess the situation.  And if it takes me another day or so, that's ok.

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VeryFoggy

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C.  I have had this problem too, but what I am finding out is that "freeze"?  Is actually blocking anger, healthy righteous anger that I SHOULD be feeling.

One thing that has helped me more than anything is carrying a mental picture of my therapist pounding her knee and leaning towards me and looking right in my eyes, and her saying forcefully to me, "I am going make you learn to trust your gut!"

So I carry her with me everywhere in the form of that mental picture.  And she tells me that all of the time.  That I am not wrong, and what my gut is telling me is right and true and accurate and correct!  She is very forceful about it.  I guess I come across all meek and mild and she wants to jazz me up.

But I am unfreezing and learning more quickly and, more quickly, to trust myself and my feelings. It is taking a long time but it is working.  The words, the right words to say do not fly into my mind yet?  But the right feelings are there, so I am counting on the right words to follow in the near future.

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C.

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Interesting point about freezing. 

I think in my case it's a postponing of anger.  I realized in the moment I was irritated w/my co-worker's comments, I asserted myself once w/clarification, but that was rebuffed.  And given the challenge I sometimes experience w/emotional regulation w/my cptsd, i am scared to feel something to "big" and react in a problematic way at work, so I decided to go medium chill, ignore, and decide later how or if a response was needed.  Fortunately my boss is aware of this person's problematic behavior so I can touch base w/him soon (he was sick so not available like usual...) and decide how to respond in the future. 

I know what you mean about noticing and trusting your gut, my "gut" definitely felt attacked.  But I've also noticed that sometimes I take offense to someone simply being direct, asking a question stating a "fact" from their perspective for example, and I personalize and assume they're indicating I did something wrong when that's not the case.  It's just a question or a statement.  I still need to clarify or be assertive, in return, but I don't necessarily need to feel hurt or angry.

I think the assuming the worst comes from my bad marriage and hush hush rules of my childhood where direct was often "offensive."

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VeryFoggy

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I see what you mean C. and I understand that sometimes a question, an innocent question can or could feel like an attack, and our hyper vigilant Inner Child might take offense when none is intended.  But we are thankfully still driving the train.   We the adult "us" are still in charge.

And my rule of thumb is becoming  to question and think, "Is there a history? A history of this particular person  having bad intent? If there is not, then I am able to push that aside and take the question seriously and directly as posed. If there is history, I become watchful. Answer honestly, yet watching. What happens next?

But honestly?  With all my reading and studying and reflecting?  We owe nobody the keys to our soul. And if anybody is asking "funny" questions?  Or making "funny" statements? Your radar should ping madly. And you have every right to remain guarded and not give away the codes to the launch pad.

Another way to handle "facts" which is only their perception after all is to ask questions yourself. Don't commit.  Just say, "Wow that's interesting, what made you think that?  or "Why did you decide that?" or "Why do you think that happened?"

Collect information.  But really for me?  The gut thing works.  If I feel like somebody is against me?  They are.  That's just my experience though!

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Kizzie

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So glad for this thread  :thumbup:  I was talking in another post about residual anger and what to do with it, and I realize I am freezing it when I think someone is PD and using all the strategies  (medium chill, disengagement, etc),  and for similar reasons as you C.

I do so because even healthy, clean anger can set off a PD person and I just don't want to deal with that anymore.  So then I find myself like I've been feeling for a bit now, depressed that I have to swallow my anger. I know they are who they are and anger is useless and can even makes things worse, but it's this leftover stuff I don't quite know what to do with yet.

I am not this way with healthy people now, people with whom my gut sends a red flag up and it feels really good to let the healthy, clean anger out so if you can trust that you are able to differentiate between the two C (PDs and non-PDs), it's quite a good feeling because healthy people respond in a healthy way and that's an experience we haven't had much if at all in our lives.  But they are out there (the healthier people) and they're ok with being direct.

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C.

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I really like your idea about questions.  I've found this person to be consistently inconsistent and I do have to work w/her so I need to find a strategy that keeps me safe and allows me to do the job.  She's sometimes grumpy and mean during the shift change.  So I'll just respond w/questions to find out what she means, the intent if possible.  She also gets irritated if I don't understand her the first time, so ultimately I cannot please this lady and just making the 15 min. per week I need to spend around her go quickly is my best bet.  But questions will help, I can redirect the irritation back to her in a sense.  Wish me luck, I'll see her tonight :)

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VeryFoggy

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So how did it go C.?  Your evening with the unpleasant coworker?

Another thing I just thought of as a way to respond to people is what I learned in  my Verbal Abuse Defense course and that is when somebody states some untrue inaccurate  "fact" about you?  The response is:  I don't believe that.

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C.

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It went ok.  I'm getting used to people who are what I term "consistently inconsistent."  My strategy w/her is to disclose the minimum necessary to do our jobs, and take mild interest in her as a person. 

She flared up last week w/me b/c she thought I'd made a mistake that would make her work difficult (no compassion for my rationale being related to the wellness of another person).  She did flare up last night about something, but I equaled her volume w/a fact.  She was wrong.  But she didn't say "oops, guess I remembered that wrong" or anything of that nature like I would if I'd made such a blatant error.

Personally I also believe that all people have some positive qualities.  She seems to respond well to me noticing those and superficial facts about her life.

So the fifteen minutes went smoothly and will again next week I hope.  And if she "flares" I now have a better idea of how to respond (ask questions, medium chill, check in w/my boss).

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VeryFoggy

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I have found that what you said C. about, "She would not respond as I would with an "oops, I made a mistake" is really hard for me. I do want people to act and to feel like me.  And when they don't?  It is very distressing.

But my consolation is they are few and far between. I feel like I am having to learn a foreign language to talk to them and it is very hard.

To talk to these people I have to be very hard, and all about me. I have to say things like, Think what you like. That's one way of looking at it.  I don't agree. Believe what you want. 

Or worse!  Get sarcastic.  I wish I was so certain about how things are.  Wow! I wish I would have thought of that!  And now all of our problems will be solved, thank God you showed up!

I have to say what feels like to me horrible nasty stuff!

But I think this is something that is missing in us.  A natural healthy self preservation instinct. It was pounded or beaten or coerced out of us and now we have to learn it.  Something new. Unnatural, but necessary?

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C.

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Well said VF.  I was thinking about a boundary metaphor.  There are people who will respect the fence and there are those who need to see a stone wall 100 feet tall to respect the boundary.  So finding it in me to be firm and direct.  Very true about the self-preservation instinct being removed...I've been thinking a lot about that too.  And it is something I can learn now.

On a side note about this I noticed on the OOTF website the 51% rule, it's about caring for oneself 51%(receiving) and then you'll have the energy for giving during the other 49%("giving").  As a mom w/a sometimes challenging teen I find that he usually falls in that 49% time frame which is what has made work a challenge.  I didn't have enough time for my own health.  Fortunately my current lifestyle allows for enough self care. 

But, I've been out of balance most of my life, including during my childhood, adolescence , and marriage when I was taught to give instead of receive...