Thursday, May 25, 2006

I Use Therapy

Times are pretty full right now for me. If it isn’t time to get up and get to work, then it is time to come home from the evening internship training/orientation just in time to sneak a quick snack, hit the shower and get off to bed. Needless to say, I haven’t had my night times to write any thought-provoking blogs, or blogs period. And while this one is not going to be all that thought-provoking, I wanted to share a few thoughts I’ve had recently just in association with my current situation of training to start my new internship in providing therapy.

You know, when you are passionate about something, it becomes a part of you. I don’t know, I suppose that could be the chicken or the egg ordeal in that maybe it was a big part of you first and it developed into a passion; whatever the case, when we are passionate about something it is a part of us.

I have been accused of “playing therapist” with my friends. Not necessarily to the point of taking it upon myself to talk them through their struggles, unless they have asked me to, but more to the point of being accused of analyzing them or their situations. Many times, when I am accused it does catch me off guard because I honestly was not cognitively aware that I was “analyzing” them for the purpose of assessment, but rather I was just asking questions of them and then thinking about them because that is how I tend to work. If that makes sense to you.

Psychological thinking is a passion of mine. It is definitely a part of who I am. I enjoy the thought processes involved and the critical thinking it can entail. And while I have not always been this way in my manner, I find with the more education I gain in this area, the more I am able to think in such a way without even noticing it.

Analytical thinking has become a part of me, but that is not only that aspect of my educational training that is within me. As my passion is for therapy, and I truly do believe in it, I find myself often times using therapeutic techniques with myself. I mean if I believe in the ability for success from therapy for others, I should believe I am no better.

Sometimes it is infrequent technique use for me, such as the occasional relaxation technique. I can remember times of walking from my apartment during my undergraduate education, heading to class in order to take an exam that I might not have felt completely ready for, and I would find myself doing deep diaphragm breathing. The diaphragm breathing has always been a quick relaxation technique that has been beneficial for me. Often times we all breathe so shallowly, that this truly does give you a different feeling within which is very relaxing.

Then just the other day I found myself feeling weird inside. Honestly, I’m not sure what the feeling was, but it was a heightened feeling that kept my attention and I needed to be relieved of the state, as I had other activities to attend too. So I did a couple deep muscle relaxation with a few muscles in my body and it did its thing and I was good to go. I typically am not one to take the time to do much deep muscle relaxation, nor do I typically feel a need to, but when I have used it, it has been beneficial. Usually, if I find myself in a state of needing to quickly relax, I just do the couple deep breathes.

But relaxation techniques are not the only times I turn the therapy on myself. Most of the other times I do not even think twice about it as a therapeutic technique, but rather as a way of behaving that I know has benefits, as I have learned them through my educational training.

One thing I often consider is my unconscious processes. I believe it is important to be aware of what we are “feeding” our selves on a daily basis, because you can not be fully sure how your unconscious might be processing our experiences.

Just the other day at my internship training session one of my supervisors said this, “We all have a case of the blues from time to time.” You know, she is exactly right. You do not suffer from depression simply because you are feeling down or blue…

I wouldn’t have agreed with that original statement made by my supervisor some two years ago. Or if I did, I would have said I was the exception to the rule.

Believe it or not, I can honestly say throughout my time all the way up through my undergraduate degree, I could not relate with depressive states. I don’t know why this was, but I was always in a positive mindset and never found myself getting “down” about anything. Yes, I know it sounds strange, but honestly, it wasn’t until my time after graduating with my undergrad that I ever truly felt a depressive state of mind. And honestly, I would bet any of my close friends can attest to this, as they probably can’t recall me having depressive states prior to my leaving Abilene, and those who are still close to me can probably note how I have changed since then, as I have been vocal to about my states of the “blues” when they have come about.

With this being the case, I recently found myself in “a case of the blues.” And though I was not sure why I was feeling that way, I wanted to do whatever I could to lift my mood again. So, since I was not sure why I felt that way, I decided I needed to evaluate my situation and do whatever I felt could possibly help my situation. With this being the case, I made some changes, because like the saying goes, “You can’t keep doing what you’re doing and expect different results.”

One of the things I did which will probably sound rather interesting to y’all, was I took a song out of my life. At the time I had been obsessed with the song “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter. I LOVED that song! It was by FAR the most played song on my iPod. But the more I thought about it, that song’s lyrics were not all that positively oriented.

What kind of positive self-talk is saying over and over to yourself, “I had a bad day. The cameras don’t lie…” I mean when you are sitting in “the blues” while I suppose it might be accurate to say, “I had a bad day,” it isn’t necessarily something that you should be reminding yourself of over and over and over as you sing a song.

And yes, I know a lot of you are thinking right now, “Uh, it’s just a song, and they are just lyrics, what does that matter?” But honestly, like I mentioned earlier, I believe the unconscious has more power than we sometimes think.

So I said, “no more.” If I want to have a GOOD day, I can’t keep saying, or singing, “I had a bad day.” So I made a change!

I took it off my playlists on my iPod. I changed the channel or turned the radio off whenever it came on. I said I can’t listen to it anymore. So, as I check my iTunes right now, it says the last time it was listened to on my iPod was April 14, 2006.

Now I will confess. On Tuesday night’s American Idol this week I did have to listen to the song, because Daniel Powter was on live performing it, and I wanted to watch that part of the show as it was a memorial to the whole season, and though I thought about muting the tv, I still listened to it because it was a different version of the song, so I decided it wasn’t the same reinforcing song from the past. Plus I wasn’t singing along.

So, I can say I got out of that “case of the blues.” But was it because I stopped listening to that song? I doubt it, but I still feel strongly about my reasoning for stopping to listen to that song, though I still think it is musically a very appealing song to listen to and to sing along too.

But music means a lot to me. I think music can be very therapeutic. During the fall semester with my first internship I would have to drive really early in the mornings across town, so I would start the morning off each and EVERY morning in my car to one song. It HAD to be the first song I played everyday when I went to my internship. It was “It Feels Like Today” by Rascal Flatts. Though it was pretty early in the mornings (still dark outside sometimes), I would sing, usually pretty loudly, that song, especially the first few lines…

“I woke up this morning, with this feeling inside me that I can't explain. Like a weight that I've carried has been carried away, away. But I know something is coming. I don't know what it is but I know it's amazing, To save me, my time is coming.”

I mean it was appropriate, of course, since I basically has just “woke up,” but it gave me a sense of feeling; a sense of purpose and feeling for my day. I had a reason to go through the day feeling free, as if a weight had been lifted off me. Like even if yesterday had been bad, today was going to be a new day and “I woke up this morning, with this feeling inside me that I can’t explain. Like a weight that I’ve carried has been carried away.” It gave me a feeling to have for the day, just as saying “I had a bad day,” could give me a feeling for the day.

I don’t know. I believe in our powers to impact our daily life. And with this being the case, I strive to work in my own life just as I might guide a client to work in his/her own life. I, of course, can’t do the acting in a client’s life, but they can, and if they believe in what I suggest to them, they can possibly benefit from it, just as I have in my own life with my own judgments on how to affect my daily living. Whether that is in choosing to listen to one song everyday, or choosing to not listen to another song everyday…

…we can have affect on our own life!

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