Suicide is at an epidemic level. What are the warning signs? What can we do if someone we love is threatening it? What can we do if we are contemplating it?https://www.facebook.com/mrchangeagent/videos/769479576966702
Anxiety is a national epidemic. What can be done? Here is part 2 of Overcoming Anxiety. https://www.facebook.com/2138470113107497/videos/364566488112988
If you missed our broadcast on overcoming anxiety, you can watch it now!
With everything going on in the world, it is easy to get anxious. How do you tame this emotional monster? How can you regulate your emotions and be more calm and peaceful? Ron Ovitt answers some of these questions in this video series.
What do you believe about yourself? What does God say? IF YOU MISSED OUR CLASS ON Tuesday, September 8 at 7:00 pm CST, YOU CAN VIEW IT NOW! Click here: https://www.facebook.com/mrchangeagent/videos/1084182598665429
It isn’t enough to just believe with your mind. You need to emotionally believe as well. We will examine how to believe with all your heart the truths that God believes about you.
I was thinking about shame and how it can destroy us and I came across this verse in the Bible.
But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
Psalms 3:3 (NLT)
It made me think about shame and how we react to it. You know the drill. You drop your head and roll it down and away. As your shoulders slump, you let out a deep sigh. You talk, but it is without eye contact, constantly fighting looking down and away again. It is worse than a feeling of guilt. With guilt, you can confess your wrongdoing. Shame is deeper. It isn’t about “doing,” it’s about “being.”
How do you repent of being something you are so ashamed of? How can you renew something so broken, so damaged, so worthless? Shame, more than an emotion, is a deeply worn brain map, a trait, a feeling that you are totally unworthy. But then there is God. God, who comes and lifts your head and whispers deep into your soul, “Don’t call what I have created, worthless.” God, whose love for you can soften the calloused skin around your heart and begin to birth new life. God who bestows glory on you. Our Lord God is the shame slayer.
Today, let God lift your head. And when He does, gaze into His face. Feel the glory He has given you. Let it radiate deep into your soul and believe. Believe you are loved. Believe that you were created for His glory and that your shame is a lie, a false belief, a shame given to you by others. Let Him tenderly lift your head and take away your shame.
Pray with me;
Dear Father, I have felt such a deep sense of shame. I bring it to you today and ask You to banish it. Lift my head and let me see Your face. Let Your deep love penetrate my heart and set me free. Today, let me see myself the way You do. In Jesus’ Name.
Changing Deceptive Inner Critic Brain Messages
In their ground-breaking book, You Are Not Your Brain, Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz M.D. and Dr. Rebecca Gladding M.D. share Dr. Schwartz’s 4 step method for overcoming OCD. This has now been expanded to apply to many anxiety disorders. In their introduction they write:
There are few true necessities in life, but for many of us, it doesn’t feel that way. A lifetime of habits, ingrained by repetition, can seemingly make us slaves to a not always beneficial master – our own brain.
Nothing is more confusing or painful than when your brain takes over your thoughts, attacks your self-worth, questions your abilities, overpowers you with cravings, or attempts to dictate your actions. Have you ever felt that something is compelling you to “go” places, mentally or emotionally, where you don’t want to be? Do you find yourself acting in uncharacteristic ways or doing things you don’t really want to be doing? THE REASON IS SIMPLE: Deceptive Brain Messages. These deceptive brain messages have intruded into your psyche and taken over your life. This can lead to:
• Overthinking problems and fretting over things that are out of your control
• Getting stuck or panicked by unfounded fear and worries
• Blaming and chastising yourself for things that are not your fault
• Engaging in unhealthy behaviors to escape life’s daily stresses
• Reverting to past patterns when you are trying to make a change
The more often you act in these unhealthy ways, the more you teach your brain that what is simply a habit (a learned behavior) is essential to your survival! Your brain does not distinguish whether the action is beneficial or destructive; it just responds to how you behave and then generates strong impulses, thoughts, desires, cravings, and urges that compel you to perpetuate your habit, whatever it may be. Clearly, the brain can exert a powerful grip on one’s life – BUT ONLY IF YOU LET IT! The good news is that you can overcome the brains control and rewire your brain to work for you by learning to debunk the myths it has been so successfully selling you and by choosing to act in healthy, adaptive ways.
A. Look at the following list of emotions. Circle the ones that you feel apply to you.
Humiliated, disrespected, insulted, mocked, accused, cheated on, bullied, beaten, manipulated, ignored, labeled, physically abused, ignored, laughed at, neglected, left out, sexually abused, robbed, rejected, misunderstood, put down, unappreciated, bossed around, held down, abandoned, disapproved of, terrified, shamed
B. When any of those above happened, how did you feel? Circle the different emotions you felt
Fear, horrified, nervous, hopeless, alarm, shock, fright, terror, panic, anxious, tense, uneasy, worried, despair
Anger, aggravated, irritated, agitated, grouchy, grumpy, frustrated, annoyed, outraged, furious, bitter, disgusted, vengeful, resentful, envious, tortured,
Sad, hurt, afflicted, miserable, unhappy, melancholy, grieving, disappointed, distressed, disillusioned, self-pity
Shame, remorse, guilty, broken, regretful, embarrassed, humiliated, disgraced
Alone, isolated, abandoned, rejected, insecure
C. When those things happened and you felt the way you did, what were you believing about yourself? Circle the different self-beliefs you have had
I don’t deserve love, I am a bad person, I am worthless, I am shameful, I am not lovable, I am inadequate, I am not good enough, I don’t deserve good things, I am broken, I am damaged goods, I am ugly, I am stupid, I am insignificant, I deserve to be miserable, I am different, I am unimportant, I don’t belong, nobody loves me, I cannot be trusted, I never do anything right, I am unable to take care of myself, I am not in control, I am weak, I am a failure, I must be good, I will never succeed, I am powerless
Here is the good news. These negative self-beliefs that you circled are lies! They may feel true, you may have strong feelings about them, but in reality, they are not true. As we begin to tune in to these feelings, emotions and negative beliefs we will become more aware of our reactions and allow God
Deconstruct the negative self-beliefs
We need to deconstruct the lies that come from our inner critic. Look at the ones you circled in “C” above. List them below. When you do, be the prosecuting attorney. Your job is to prove that each on is false by asking questions which answers will disprove the claims or providing evidence that disproves what you are believing. Feel free to ask “witnesses” to give testimony. Present incidents that show contrary prove against your claims about yourself.
Witnesses with proof against your claim ___________________________________________
Arguments against your claim ___________________________________________________
Incidents that disprove your inner critics claim ______________________________________
Disproving the perceived consequences of the negative self-beliefs
You can do the same thing with the perceived consequences of not doing what your inner critic thinks you should do. (Perfectionism, fear of failure, avoiding mistakes, having to be in control – all these have perceived consequences that your inner critic keeps in front of you!)
List the consequences of not being “perfect” or being in the situation you are afraid of.
After you list them, do the same as above. Argue against it. Use words like, “preposterous, ridiculous, absurd, ludicrous and outrageous” when exposing your false consequences. Get emotional! Go after it and help yourself overcome it just like you would if someone else you loved believed it. You need to emotionally see that these are lies and believe emotionally that you are not in any harm.
The result of this should be the same as when you recognize emotional sensations. You say, “This is faulty wiring. I don’t have to react! I am not going to die!” These thoughts, beliefs, and imaginations are the result of false associations. (False learnings. 1+1 does not equal 3!) You can say about each one, “This is faulty wiring. I don’t have to react! I am not going to die!”
Rational Emotive Theory was created by Albert Ellis and shares about a set of “stinking thinking” that our inner critic is involved in. He talks about eight irrational beliefs that we have.
The eight irrational beliefs are:
Should, Ought, Must, Have to, Awful, Horrible, Terrible, and Can’t stand.
There are three areas that we exercise these beliefs usually to escape beliefs that we consider dangerous and difficult to face. These are irrational beliefs about:
Yourself, Others, Life and the world.
Here are some examples
I must please others or else I am no goo
I can’t stand it when I fail at something
I should be punished harshly
I have to do good to be liked
You must treat me nice or else you are horrible
I can’t stand your awful behavior
You should never say those terrible things
Toward life and the world
It is unfair, life should be easier
I can’t stand how terrible my life is
Others ought to get their act together, it’s awful the way things have turned out
Instead of using words like: Should, Ought, Must, Have to, Awful, Horrible, Terrible, and Can’t stand there are four more rational ways to see ourselves, others, and life situations. They are preferences, acceptance., stop-awfulizing, and high frustration tolerance.
This is a healthy response to a “demand”. Instead of must, should, ought to and have to we can use phrases like, “I prefer”, “I want”, or “I would like.” These phrases allow us to express what we would like but also see that life doesn’t always go our way and allows for acceptance.
This is where we can take the extreme thinking out of the picture. We can accept that something is bad without thinking that everything is awful. This acceptance allows us to feel our pain without exaggerating its significance. Here are some things to remember:
No one is perfect
We are not our behavior, emotions or thoughts
Failing at one thing doesn’t mean we are a failure at everything
Everyone makes mistakes and we can learn from them and grow.
The way to stop this kind of thinking is to admit when something is bad, don’t ignore it, but be realistic, don’t catastrophize it into being awful. For example, “It may be hard to stop smoking, but it won’t be awful because there are many worst things that could happen to me.”
“It will really hurt me if you leave but it won’t be the end of the world.” Other phrases like, “It won’t last forever”, “I have made it through much harder things than this.” “ The sun will come up tomorrow,” all take out the sting of “awful” and it’s fatalistic tendency.
High frustration tolerance
This is similar to awfulizing in which we recognize that that something is hard or difficult, a struggle, but I refuse to label it as unbearable, instead, I see a value in bearing it.
I am not happy that I lost my job. I am scared and frustrated but I accept my part in it and know that I can be happy even in this situation.
It is unpleasant to have this illness, but I can stand it and will do everything I can to get better.
It is so hard when someone mistreats me, but I can wait until things calm down and then respectfully talk about it.
Find out what you’re thinking
Remember, distorted thinking doesn’t seem like distorted thinking. Like most distortions, they are close to the real thing. So we buy the lie and go on feeling emotional over and over again. IT HAS BEEN OUR NORMAL !!! This causes more pain and trauma and only helps stabilize the distorted thinking. So how do we come to know the truth about ourselves? We pray and ask God for wisdom and then we spend the time to reflect on what is going on. Meditate, pray and wait on God to speak to you. As you spend time with God and sincerely ask Him to share with you, you will get wisdom. You can combine this with journaling when we are feeling over-emotional. As you do you God will give you insight.
Our inner critic is full of negative thinking. There is a saying, “If we can name it, we can tame it.” The trouble is we keep thinking the same negative thoughts over and over and they cause us to jump right into our negative response. It happens so fast that we don’t even pay attention to the root belief. That is why we are spending the time in these first three sessions to help us get in touch with what we are really believing. Why? Because, if we can name the negative thinking we can change it. We can begin a new story. Take a look at some of the false assumptions and beliefs we can have.
There are two types of trauma that we can experience from childhood. The trauma of commission that is from something bad that happened to us that never should have happened – or the trauma of omission, that is trauma from missing something that should have happened and did not. Both traumas can produce injury to our human spirit and lead to false assumptions and beliefs. And these traumas hurt and unfortunately the events are interpreted by immature, non-rational brains of children. Therefore the emotional memories full of false assumptions and beliefs about ourselves. Over 1/2 of our population has had lingering emotions and wounded inner self-beliefs due to trauma and attachment pain.
False assumptions due to past injury or trauma
Here is the PROBLEM. The left rational part of our brain TRIES to explain WHY we had trauma. Unfortunately, the only brain we had when we were younger was the brain of an immature child. Therefore the rationale of why trauma happened to us results in DISTORTED THINKING. This results in all kinds of lies about ourselves. This distorted IMMATURE thinking creates DISTORTED EMOTIONS and prevents us from bonding like we should with others so the cycle continues.
Check off the distortions that you have wrestled with in the past.
[ ] I am broken [ ] I don’t deserve love
[ ] There is something really wrong with me [ ] People cannot be trusted
[ ] If people really knew me they would reject me [ ] Nobody cares
[ ] My sins are worse than other people’s sins [ ] God won’t forgive me for…
[ ] I don’t need anyone [ ] God doesn’t hear me
[ ] Nothing works for me [ ] I can’t trust anyone
[ ] If I let them, my feelings will overwhelm me [ ] I am not worthy of love
[ ] People don’t really care, they just fake it [ ] People always disappoint me
[ ] Nothing ever works out for me [ ] God doesn’t answer my prayers
[ ] People are mean and critical [ ] People will disapprove of me
[ ] People will try to control me [ ] God really doesn’t love me
[ ] God doesn’t care about the way I feel [ ] Something is very wrong with m
We can also negative thinking as a result of not fulfilling our various maturity needs
Need to be lovable, to be loved unconditionally, if not I must perform and please
___ I am defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects; or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed.
___ I must avoid criticism, rejection, comparisons, and blame; because I am self-conscious and ashamed of my perceived flaws.
___ I must isolate myself from the rest of the world because I am different from other people not part of any group or community.
___ Excessive surrender to the control of others in order to avoid anger, retaliation, or abandonment.
___ A belief that I either have failed, will inevitably fail, or is fundamentally inadequate relative to one’s peers, in areas of achievement.
___ A belief that I am stupid, inept, untalented, ignorant, lower in status, less successful than others, etc.
___ A belief that I should be harshly punished for making mistakes.
___ A minimizing or neglecting the positive or optimistic aspects of my life.
Need to be accepted, if not I have fear of rejected, abandoned
___ An excessive focus on voluntarily meeting the needs of others at the expense of my own.
___ A need to gain approval, recognition, or attention from other people
___ A need to fit in, at the expense of developing a secure and true sense of self.
___ The avoidance of the disapproval by others, a feeling of shame, or losing control of one’s impulses.
___ A belief that I must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism.
___ A pervasive, lifelong focus on the negative aspects of life (pain, death, loss, disappointment, conflict, guilt, resentment, unsolved problems, potential mistakes, betrayal, things that could go wrong, etc.)
Need to be safe, if not safe then I cannot trust, take chances or be myself as God has created me
___ Others will intentionally hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage of me by either their deliberate actions or neglect.
___ Our desire for a normal degree of emotional support through nurturing care, empathy, and protection will not be adequately met by others.
___ The suppression of one’s preferences, decisions, and desires.
___ The suppression of emotional expression, especially anger.
___ A belief that my own desires, opinions, and feelings are not valid or important to others.
Need to belong, if not then I have social issues, cannot be sociable or must cling to others
___ Belief that I am unable to handle everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others
___ An exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that I will be unable to prevent it.
___ That I must have excessive emotional involvement and closeness with one or more significant others (often parents), at the expense of my individuation or normal social development.
Take a look at the belief that you checked off. What maturity needs to they belong to?
How can you go about satisfying those needs in a legitimate, healthy way?
In Part 1 we shared about Distorted Beliefs that affect the inner critic. In this part, we will examine more of our negative thinking so we can counter it with more positive thoughts.
It is hard to have emotions without having judgments at the same time. We don’t always notice our self-beliefs because we are into the emotion, but if we focus we will be able to ascertain these beliefs. This affects our thinking. Much of this is really “trash” thinking. We go through the day “negative and critical thinking about ourselves and everything around us. Part of our healing will be learning to be “in a moment” without judging but instead trusting God and who He has made us be. It takes much practice to be able to be in the moment with God and not to be sucked up into being negative with everything around us.
As we review the “mirrors”, I am unloveable, I am powerless, I am worthless, I am never good enough, I don’t matter, I am nothing without my parents, we can see where any one of them can become a deep-seated belief about our self. These beliefs about ourselves lay there in our left brain waiting for some right-brain cue to set off the alarm and then our beliefs come into awareness explaining why we feel this way. Some of those right-brain triggers are:
___ Looks of disgust
___ Being put down or mocked, degraded
___ Over expectations
___ Let down expectations
___ Favoritism or comparison to someone else
___ Angry tone or look
___ Looks of rejection
___ Negative tone of voice
___ Sadness or hurt look
___ Blank stare
___ Other? ________
Our Belief Response
When the emotional triggers are recognized, the left brain must make predictions. These predictions are based on assumptions that are often false. They are the assumptions that we had has an immature child going through our trauma. We blamed ourselves, we took others’ distorted opinions of us as gospel or we made what we thought was logical assumptions of why things were happening to us. BUT WE WERE WRONG!
THE TROUBLE IS WE STILL BELIEVE THE FALSE ASSUMPTIONS AND OUR BRAIN IS MAKING FALSE PREDICTIONS!
Look and see what beliefs do you respond to?
Inner Critic – “How awful.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” “You are so stupid.” “You can’t so don’t even try.” “There is something wrong with you!” It’s all your fault.” “No sense trying.”
Inner Shamer– “There is something wrong with you.”, “You’re no good.” “You’re broken”, “You’ll never amount to anything.” “You ruined everything.” “I can’t ever count on you.” “You never will get it right.” “You did it this time, no one will ever love you.” “Everyone is ashamed of you.” “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
Inner Pessimist/Doubter – “This won’t work”, “Don’t even try.”, “Everything is wrong.” , “You can’t do anything right.”, “I doubt if it will work.”, “It never works out.”, “You always get it wrong.” “ It can’t, won’t or never…finish the statement.” “God doesn’t really love you.” “All is lost.” There is no God.” “You are not really forgiven.”
Inner Punisher – “You better not fail or else.”, “I’ll take you down a peg.”, “I’ll knock you off your high horse.”, “Don’t look at me.”, “I’ll give you something to cry about.”. “I’ll wipe that smile off your face.” “You’ll regret this.” “ Wait till your father gets home.” “You better not…”
Inner Terror – “I won’t love you.” “If you fail you will be nothing!” “If I don’t do it right, they may never come back.” “They will all leave you.” “You will be annihilated.”
Inner Sadness – “It will never be the same.” “You will be all alone.” “It was all your fault.” “You really blew it.” “They will never love you again.” “There is no justice.” “Why?”
See if you identify with any of these. If so, what can you believe in its place? Ask yourself, “what is the truth?” It’s time to challenge the inner critic.
Distorted Self Beliefs
In her book, “Healing Your Emotional Self” Beverly Engel uses what she calls Mirror Therapy. She says that for most of us, our self-image is a reflection of how our caregivers treated us and thought about us. She names seven types of mirrors we reflect. Read each one and ask yourself, “Have I thought of myself this way before? If so, rate each one on a scale 1-5 as to your self- belief on each one, 1 = Don’t believe it at all; 5 = I really see myself clearly.
___ I am unlovable ___ I am powerless
___ I am worthless ___ I am never good enough
___ I don’t matter ___ I am nothing without my parents
Next, look at each one and ask yourself, “When have I felt this way before? Rate each one on a scale 1-5 as to how you felt on each one, 1 = Never felt this way; 5 = I really feel this way much of the time.
Which was stronger the way you thought about each one or the way you felt?
For many of us, it is the way we feel. We often feel certain ways and don’t give much time to the thoughts behind it. We simply feel and act. The “felt” beliefs are emotional beliefs and don’t stop by simple reason. We need to emotionally believe a new truth about ourselves and not have the emotional response to the old belief anymore.
Distorted Beliefs and Predictions
When we were children, our parents projected many of their problems onto us. Projection is where we focus on the faults in others that are dominant in us. So when something we did remind them of their problems, they would react to us. They would be mad at our childish selfishness if, indeed, selfishness was something they got in trouble for.
As adults, when we get falsely accused, we can stand up for ourselves or consider the source and decide whether we want to bother with it or not. However, as children, we don’t get off that easy. A child can’t challenge the parent. Instead, the parent’s body language, tone of voice, non-verbal communication gives us feedback and forces us to assume that something MUST be wrong with us. When a parent is threatening, demeaning, or chaotic, the child believes that “I must be the reason for your look of anger, disgust, fear, sadness, or whatever emotion is conveyed. This is called emotional learning. Soon they develop a radar that detects any incident that resembles the original experience and includes the original belief system that labeled me and still accuses me relentlessly.
Why do we have inner beliefs?
We are social animals. God has created us this way. This means that having healthy relationships with other people is crucial to our survival. Therefore as children, we learn quickly what pleases others and what alienates them. To assure our survival, we “mirror” the social rules of engagement with those that were our caregivers and anyone else we give “power” to. Therefore Inner Beliefs that we have are those interpretations of the rules we have from our relationships, so even when our caregivers are not present, we can assure ourselves that everything will be okay. That is why, even decades later, we still have the rules from early childhood bombarding us and trying to shape our behavior.
What do these beliefs do?
Remember, we have said that the primary job of the brain is to predict. It takes in all variables, whether it is from the left brain’s rationalization of what is going on or the right brain’s interpretation of what it senses to be the situation, and predicts the outcome of different behavioral options. If the prediction is perceived as negative, our inner beliefs from our childhood of shame, guilt, fear, anger, judgment will attempt to shape our behavior. Our beliefs will also be full of self-judgment and comparison to others in order to “keep us in line.”
Unfortunately, these beliefs may have nothing to do with the real world going on around us, but to us it will seem like reality. It is like a person who has real athletic ability but is told they are not coordinated or as good as other children. They never test their ability or when they do they are hampered by all the negative attributions they have of themselves.
Test Yourself For Inner Negativity
Do you find yourself needing to please people? Y / N
Do you get overly upset if someone is mad at you? Y / N
If you are working by yourself and make a mistake, do you get angry at yourself? Y / N
Do you have extra high standards? Y / N
If you do wrong, does it take you a while to get over it? Y / N
If you are alone and make a mistake, do you strongly berate yourself? Y / N
Do you avoid competition where you know you might lose? Y / N
Is your self-worth based on performance? Y / N
Do you compare yourself to others and their successes? Y / N
Do you feel you need to hide your faults or past failures? Y / N
Are you self conscious when you go into a room of strangers? Y / N
Do you find it hard to finish a difficult task because of negative thoughts? Y / N
Do you find yourself overly critical of others? Y / N