Tag Archives: therapy

Thinking Positively About Others

When you keep on getting let down by others again and again, your mind will want to find a reason why this keeps on happening. As mentioned in my last post, the practice of coming up with a reason to settle one’s anxiety in this area of uncertainty is called rationalization. There are many reasons one can come up with, all of which are impossible to prove, but here’s one that works well:

“All of us are imperfect and in the process of becoming better people. I notice this area of imperfection more because my excellence in this area causes me to have higher standards. I understand that others may have excellence in other areas. There is no better or worse, just different. Rather than expecting others to be like me, I will simply be true to myself and continue to meet my high standards in my own unique area of excellence.”

This kind of rationalization is good for you because it not only gives you a reason, but it is also hopeful for the future, it celebrates our individual differences, it gives others and yourself grace, and it encourages you to continue to do the “right” thing. So that’s positive rationalization.

Next, when we get hurt by others, we are more vulnerable to making negative judgments about others and this can become a dangerous pattern. The challenge is to think positively about others, even when you get hurt. Again, there are many judgments one can come up with, all of which are impossible to prove, but here’s one that works well:

Choose to believe that your wrongdoers have incredible value and worth. Choose to look at them as masterpieces who just don’t happen to be everyone’s cup of tea, like Jackson Pollock’s paintings. Let me go even more extreme. What is the most common thing that people value so much that they would give up everything for it, that they would even die for it? It’s your own child. When you think about someone who’s wronged you, try to think about them as a beloved child of someone very important.

“But Daniel, I know their parents and they’re not very important people.”

And as long as you think like this, you will limit your positivity.

But what if you chose to stretch your imagination as far as thinking that they are beloved children of a living spiritual entity of utmost importance. And that this higher power values them so much that He died for them. Sounds a bit crazy because it’s way too ridiculously positive, right? But that is what I choose to believe. And though it’s not easy, it’s been amazing!

What you choose to believe about others, whether it is based on measurable evidence or not, will affect your love, respect, grace, and openness toward others.

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Forgiveness

Resentment is the addiction to thinking negatively about others. To successfully break any addiction, you have to do two things: you have to (1) build up a different pattern and (2) give yourself some healthy boundaries to prevent relapse. It’s no different when it comes to freeing yourself from resentment. You have to just stop it. Stop thinking negatively about others. Stop replaying in your head what people did to you. Stop keeping track of your losses and the people who were responsible for them. Stop meditating on how worse off you are now because of all those who hurt you. Stop fantasizing about the elaborate revenge that you would like to take out on your enemies.

What do you do instead?

Well, first you have to learn how to deal with anger in a healthy way. Many people have built up a pattern of immediately going into their head when they’re angry. In their head, they then meditate on negative thoughts that intensify their anger which causes them to go right back into their head with more negative thoughts, and it just goes on and on. Instead of so quickly going into your head, learn how to stop, recognize “hey, what I’m feeling right now is anger,” and then just feel this emotion and let it pass. By exposing yourself to the emotion of anger and not doing anything else, you will build up your tolerance for this uncomfortable emotion. You’ll get used to it. And you won’t have to keep on going into your head.

Secondly, forgive those who wronged you. Forgiveness is just letting go of your hurtful past. It does not require your wrongdoers to say, “Hey, I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” No, what if the person you hold resentment against is dead? Do you expect him to come back to life and ask you for forgiveness? No, forgiveness is not dependent on them, what they ask, or even their understanding of the pain that they inflicted upon you. Forgiveness is only dependent on you and whether or not you choose to let it go.

So let’s say you are contemplating the idea of forgiveness. Here are some of the common negative thoughts that will follow and try to convince you that it is not a good idea. “They don’t deserve it.” What? It’s not about them. It’s about you and the emotional freedom that you deserve. “If they’re let off so easily without punishment, they’ll never learn and the world would be worse off.” That’s thinking pretty negatively there. How about trusting that everything will be ok and, in the meantime, resolving your own resentment which would make the world a better place. “My hate fuels me to work hard until the day that my success makes them regret what they did to me. Without my hate, I wouldn’t have as much determination.” No, you don’t know that. Actually, people work much more effectively, efficiently, and come up with more creative solutions when they are pulled by love rather than pushed by hate and anxiety. “If I don’t keep track of all the ways that people hurt me, I will get hurt in the same way again and again.” Hey, maybe you might get hurt again in the same way. But that’s ok. Keeping track won’t protect you from getting hurt again. We live in an imperfect world with a bunch of imperfect people. So don’t listen to those garbage thoughts. Forgiveness is a very good idea.

A lot of people confuse forgiveness with making excuses for others. But they are not the same. Making excuses for others is a coping mechanism called “rationalization.” Forgiveness, on the other hand, doesn’t make excuses for others. It says, “What you did to me was wrong and I didn’t deserve it. Still, I choose to let go.”

And finally, as a bonus step for those who really want greater happiness and healthier relationships, you have to build a new pattern of thinking positively about others at all times, even when they let you down.

In my next post, I’ll go into greater detail about this last step as well as how you can use rationalization in a healthy way.

NOTE: I forgot to mention that, after forgiveness, you don’t have to be buddies.

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Understanding Elliot Rodger

Exploring the emotions of loneliness, rejection, low self-esteem, perfectionism, “nice guys finish last,” anger, resentment and hate through Elliot Rodger.

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Christian OCPD

Overcoming OCPD was not an easy task. It is by far the most difficult thing that I have had to battle through. After being diagnosed with OCPD, I put everything in my life on hold to focus all my attention on overcoming this challenge from every angle. I was open to anything and everything – medicinal and non-medicinal, religious and non-religious. Up until today, however, I have not shared too much on what I have learned about OCPD as a believer and follower of the Christian faith. I would like to do that now.

OCPD is burden bearing gone wrong.

Christian OCPD

ORIGINAL DESIGN

You have what is called the “burden bearer” personality. Our good and generous God designed you in His own image and gave you a huge heart. Your heart was designed to not only feel what God feels, but also feel what others feel. God created you to be incredibly gifted in empathizing with Him and His children. Our God is full of joy. You were meant to bask in that joy with Him. God is so in love with you, so delighted in you, so proud of you. You were meant to intimately sense His unconditional love and acceptance. Our mighty God is victorious. Even when the world appears to be falling apart, He is full of hope and peace. You were meant to closely share in that hope and peace with Him. But God still grieves. His heart breaks when He sees His beloved children hurting. You were meant to feel God’s heart for them. Your compassionate intercessory prayers are so powerful because they come straight from God’s own heart. You were meant to lift up to Him the burdens that you feel and trust that He will take care of everything. Life was meant to be light for you because of your unshakable trust in God. You are so generous. Your generosity changes people’s lives. God admires your heart so much that He delights in giving you the opportunity to partner with Him in sharing His love to those in need. God gifted you with the ability to restore joy to His hurting children. Because you give so much of yourself to others, you really understand sacrifice. This better understanding of sacrifice was meant to bring you closer to Jesus, the one who sacrificed the most. You were meant to enjoy deep intimacy, intimacy that not many people can ever dream to experience. The condition of your beautiful heart enriches the lives of so many people around you and it changes the world. You were meant to see the way that you were created as a wonderful gift from God.

Read more about “Who You Are Without Fear.”

DAMAGE TO THE DESIGN

But there is also one who is against God and His great plans. We have all kinds of different names for him, including the devil, the enemy, and Satan. He knows how much of a threat you would be to his own plans to oppose God if you were to fully be who you were meant to be. So what does the enemy do? He strategically attacks your identity and tries to disarm you. When you are most vulnerable (for someone as emotionally sensitive as you, that is usually when you are overwhelmed by your difficult emotions), the enemy speaks lies to you about your identity, others, your circumstance, your future, the world, and God. He puts all these thoughts into your mind in a way that you think they are your own. The enemy convinces you through lies that difficult emotions are to be feared, that you will not be OK unless you control them or escape from them. One of the biggest lies he will say to you is, “You are not good enough!” He laughs as he watches you desperately striving to be good enough by being perfect in every way. Your fear of difficult emotions then makes you incapable of sharing in the difficult emotions of others. In this way, the enemy disables your gift of empathy. You still, however, retain a good sense of the needs of others. But because of your own distrust in God and His ability to bring healing (again… forged by the lies of the enemy), you take it upon yourself to fill the needs of others rather than lifting up those burdens to God. Consequently, you become drained and overburdened with the heaviness of the load you must carry. The enemy also attempts to eliminate your generosity by convincing you that others will only take advantage of you if you give too much of yourself to them. The enemy loves to see you feel guilty about being yourself. He loves to see you being very calculating about only giving to others as much as they give to you. The enemy also cripples your God-given ability to restore joy in others by removing your own joy and replacing it with depression and anger. He does this by flooding your mind with negativity. The enemy builds resentment against humankind inside of you so that you become increasingly isolated, pushing you further and further away from the person of intimacy that you were meant to be. Though you were meant to be amazing in relationships, the enemy convinces you that you are relationally inept. He attacks your relationships so much and loves to break up your family and marriage. The enemy wants you to see yourself as diseased, disordered, and cursed. He hopes you give up and end your own life.

Is it not interesting how similar the “Damage to the Design” description is to the DSM’s assessment of OCPD? Can you now guess why I might not be the biggest fan of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders?

SO WHAT NOW?
(NOTE: I understand that the commission to repent comes with a lot of hurt for many people as they are reminded of haughty “Christians” who impose their beliefs onto others. While I do mention repentance in this next portion of my writing, I do not use it out of a place of judgment. This “SO WHAT NOW?” is more for my readers who are seeking a Christian approach to overcoming OCPD.)

You definitely can restore your original identity! God is on your side and there is nothing too problematic or screwed up for Him to restore! Jesus did not die on the cross so that we would remain enslaved by sin, fear, worry, control, shame, distrust, pain, depression, anger, and disease. No, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to win back humankind’s authority over sin for good! In Christ, you have the authority to break OCPD! Repent to God for having thus far agreed to the lies of the enemy and having participated in the sins of OCPD. Receive God’s forgiveness and trust that His forgiveness is good enough – do not get all OCPD and try to earn His forgiveness through some kind of hard work or performance. Partner with the Holy Spirit and ask God to help you to turn away from the ways of the enemy. Be joyful and have faith that God will heal your heart 100%!

Here are some ungodly beliefs that people with OCPD are likely to have because of their past hurts:

  1. My value is in what I do and how well I perform. I am valuable because I am “successful.” I need recognition from people to have worth. I have to plan every day of my life.
  2. I have to continually strategize – I can’t relax. Things will work out better when I am in control of the situation. Only I can take care of myself and protect myself the best.
  3. Others will just use and abuse me. In relationships, I will always be the one who sacrifices and loses the most. I will be the one who gets taken advantage of.
  4. I will always be angry and feel like I’m better than everyone else.
  5. I will always have something wrong with me. I will never be healed or free from all the hurts and bondages in my life.
  6. It is better to reject someone before they can reject me. That way I don’t have to waste my time with them and get hurt.

When these thoughts come into your mind, do not listen to them. Tell the enemy to shut the hell up. Do not act out on the above thoughts.

Instead, read out loud and try to act out on the following godly truths everyday for the next few months (there is power in your spoken word since you were created in God’s image – light came into existence after God SAID, “Let there be light.”):

  1. I have incredible value and worth because I am God’s beloved and precious son/daughter. That never changes, no matter what I do or don’t do or how well I do it. God is so proud of me and loves me for who I am. He has his mark of approval on me and that is enough for me.
  2. God loves to take care of me. He will never reject me or abandon me, and He is always protecting me. God is in control and I can always feel safe with Him.  I can trust Him fully with my life and surrender my control to Him because I know He has even better plans for me than I have for myself.
  3. God has designed me to be a blessing to others and to give of myself generously. When I am doing what God has designed me to do, I can experience true freedom and joy. God has placed people in my life that love me and want to bless me and help me be all that I was born to be. I am learning to trust them and depend on them so that I can walk out the fullness of my destiny.
  4. God has created me to be a joyful and gracious person who is patient and able to forgive easily. I am learning to see beyond people’s weaknesses and recognize the amazing ways that God has created them to be.
  5. God’s grace is unending and abundant and He will always accept me, no matter what. God is greater than all my mistakes and He has the power to redeem every mistake I have made and make it for His good. God has an amazing destiny for me and will use all the decisions I make to get me there. He will help me to make good decisions.
  6. God created me for deep intimate relationships. It is my heart’s desire to truly know someone and have them truly know me and love me. Conflict and disappointment are opportunities to go deeper in intimacy. God will give me the courage to pursue intimate relationships by helping me to trust Him and trust the people He’s given me.

MORE READING

I do not recommend books too often only because there are hardly any good books on OCPD. But this one is great! A MUST READ for Christians struggling with hypersensitivity.

The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity

The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity: Your Practical Guide to Responding to Burdens You Feel from God’s Heart” by Carol A. Brown

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OCPD Depression

All people are guilty of thinking negatively at some point in their life. It is only human. But when this seemingly harmless act is repeated over and over again, negative thinking can become a dangerous addiction that leaves its victims feeling hopeless. This addiction is called depression.

Depression is one of the more common addictions that people with OCPD are likely to struggle with.

Depression

First things first – I must address the chemical imbalance theory of depression. The chemical imbalance hypothesis is an unproven, convenient theory that oversimplifies the cause of depression to the depleted serotonin levels of the brain. In his book, “The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Anti-Depressant Myth,” Dr. Irving Kirsch goes into detail about how “the idea of depression as a chemical imbalance of the brain is a myth.” People with OCPD do not fall into depression because of any chemical imbalance in their brain. They fall into depression because of compulsive negative thinking.

So what causes OCPD negative thinking?

One of the main ingredients of OCPD negative thinking is “all-or-nothing thinking.” This type of thinking splits life events as being either “completely disastrous” or “absolutely wonderful.” But why does the pessimistic view repeatedly win over the optimistic one when people with OCPD judge their experiences? The pessimistic view wins because the majority of life’s experiences fall below the high standards of people with OCPD.

So we have established that people with OCPD tend to think negatively when they do think. But how frequently do they think? Do people with OCPD think frequently enough to develop an addiction for it?

Yes, people with OCPD are thinkaholics. The intellectual overexcitability of these highly sensitive people causes them to spend much more time thinking than most other people do. Anxiety turns this natural inclination into more of an obsession. People with OCPD think so much that they may be heavily burdened with issues of existence and loneliness. This can lead to existential depression when it is combined with “all-or-nothing” negative thinking. A lot of people with OCPD who are fearful of their overwhelming emotions are also used to thinking their way out of their feelings. This “flight into reason” not only reinforces the brain pathway associated with excessive thinking, but it also creates a whole new problem associated with depression.

In her book, “The Drama of the Gifted Child,” Dr. Alice Miller wrote,

“The true opposite of depression is neither gaiety nor absence of pain, but vitality – the freedom to experience spontaneous feelings. It is part of the kaleidoscope of life that these feelings are not only happy, beautiful, or good but can reflect the entire range of human experience, including envy, jealousy, rage, disgust, greed, despair, and grief.”

It is exactly this vitality which is missing in the lives of so many people with OCPD (read more about OCPD “Composure and Emotional Non-expression“).

SO WHAT NOW?

HOW TO GET OUT OF YOUR DEPRESSION (OCPD):
See your depression for what it is. It is an addiction. You do have the choice to put an end to it. But like all other addictions, you need to go “all-in” in your effort to stop doing the things that feed into your addiction. There is no easy way out of it, no “quick fix” pill you can take to end this addiction. You must force yourself to develop a habit of thinking positively.

Stop thinking in “black and white.” When difficult feelings come, do not think your way out of it. Feel your emotions without judging whether they are good or bad. Be calm as you say to yourself, “Ah, so this is what betrayal feels like.” Throughout your day, force yourself to smile even if it feels unnatural – your brain will follow and supply you with the emotions that have been linked with that behaviour. During the day, force yourself to go out and spend time with people even if all you feel like doing is lying down in bed.

If you are currently on antidepressants, do not suddenly stop taking them. Talk to your physician about gradually discontinuing your use of antidepressants.

If you relapse on your depression, just try again. Relapse does not mean you must go back on antidepressants. It just means you might need clearer boundaries. Some recovered alcoholics do not even have a sip of beer. Like them, you may need to keep yourself from having even a “sip” of negativity.

It is not so out of the ordinary for people with OCPD to experience sudden drops in their mood even after they have made all the right changes to their pattern of thinking and the way in which they experience their emotions. Do not be discouraged. Your emotional sensitivity may be causing you to unconsciously empathize with the pain and suffering of others.

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