Nothing is Magic

This title has been rolling around for a number of days.  Because I can’t decide if everything is magic or nothing.  I’m thinking about the changes I’ve made since my acupuncture appointment, and what it means to have your mind, body, and spirit all working in harmony.

Aside from the projects getting completed over that first weekend, I have connected with a PhD student who wants to support me in my vision for Mixed Race community space; I’ve experienced some really affirming and beautiful feedback about who I am as a person and what I contribute to my environments; work has gone very well; I was part of an incredible trauma training; and I’ve finally made a commitment to getting my body back where I want to be – bad coping habits are under control and I’m re-connecting with my love for exercise and the feeling of being strong and fit.  Aside from the things I can name concretely, my overall mood and energy are better, and I’m beginning to see small things appear in my life that are in line with the hopes and intentions I’ve been cultivating.

Last year my mantra was “Better feeling thoughts.”  I played around with that all year through the ups and downs of events that came my way.  The mantra was inspired by things I’ve been hearing from Abraham-Hicks.  I listen to these videos often to get my intention back in line with my best good.  They’re teachings about the Law of Attraction, but in a practical way.  Which sounds funny because basically it’s an old White woman channeling a set of ghosts/energies.  If you can get past that, it’s practical information.  But over the past year especially of listening to this stuff, it’s really just CBT+ (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and then some).

CBT is like the most standard form of change therapy.  As therapists, we’re taught about it from day one, it’s the basis of a lot of curriculum for clients, it’s standard.  It’s the idea that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interrelated.  Law of Attraction says that Like Attracts Like.  Whatever you practice (thoughts, feelings, beliefs, habits), you bring into your experience (behaviors and relationships).  The hook is that most people don’t want to think they have that much control.  But if you make a commitment to observe this interrelationship, you can see the way you’re contributing to your own joy or misery.

The + in CBT+ for me is taking the additional leap to say you can create your own reality once you have a really good understanding and take control of the thoughts you think, which make you feel good (or bad), which make you think other thoughts that align with feeling good (or bad) which strengthens the feeling, and so on… which brings the experiences and relationships that match your feelings.  For me, part of the key has been that my feelings are the real indicator of where I’m at and where I’m headed.  I think part of where I was stuck was thinking I would get magical results quickly based on good intentions and feelings, rather than realizing it takes some time to get some momentum going in the direction I’m headed.  And I would give up too soon.

However, I think sometimes, there is a blockage or stuckness where you can’t get control over your thoughts and feelings.  This can be depression, grief, trauma, blocked energy, whatever you want to call it.  When I touch on the idea of medication with very depressed people, I talk about the idea of being in water.  When you’re at the surface of the water, you can tread, you can get a breathe, you can swim, you have choices.  When you’re depressed, it’s like you’re underwater and you don’t have those choices available to you, you can’t even see them.  Sometimes medications can help you get to sea level.  Medication is not going to swim you or breathe you, but it gets you up to a level where you’re able to make those choices.  And that’s what I feel like happened for me with the acupuncture.  All of these things that are happening now were in the works, but I couldn’t access them.  I was stuck.

I don’t think medication is magic.  And I don’t think acupuncture is magic.  I don’t fully understand what happened, but I know that something shifted and I became able to jump the dead battery of my life.  And with that, I’ve been able to see things start working out for me in ways that I’ve intended for ages and I’m creating now.  I’m very grateful for that!

a predator’s dream

in one of the groups i lead, there’s this guy, real hard, has spent most of his life in prison, sees himself as some kind of ladies man. he has asked to come talk to me informally several times and i keep referring him back to get a therapy referral from his counselor. he sits by me everyday in group, and his body language is very directly trying to get my attention. i find him laughable and mildly repulsive.

i had a chance to talk to his counselor yesterday, who offered me the following feedback: “your face and your manner is very calm, serene, open. you’re like a predator’s dream.” i laughed really hard at that! it’s true. and that’s what used to terrify me about certain men. when i was doing a therapy project with a friend in grad school, i told her i was “easily monopolized.” it goes back to a family trait. for some reason, in my family we all attract weirdos. and i think it’s because it’s passed down (unspoken family rules) to be highly tolerant, patient, and not make other people feel bad or weird. i’ve had a habit of listening too long, listening with a straight face, withholding judgment.

don’t get me wrong, this can be a very positive quality. people feel very comfortable around me in general. but it left me open to being easily monopolized. the flipside of this coin is poor boundaries.

i feel like i’ve learned a lot from my work as a therapist. what brought me into the field was partly that i wanted to used my great listening skills, fueled by this high tolerance. however, i don’t want to be ran over either. i used to solve this problem in my personal life by sneaking away, running away, or remaining closed off and aloof. in my work, i’ve learned that it doesn’t always serve clients to be a soft, kind, passive and supportive listener. some people need a more bold and directive approach. i need to model assertiveness, for them and for me. and some people really need me to state my boundaries. like this predator.

all this is to say that when my co-worker gave me feedback and made me laugh about being a predator’s dream, i laughed in a wonderful way! because i know how hard this situation would have been for me if i had not learned to set clear boundaries and assert myself. i have grown. this interaction made me realize that i have learned how to keep my general calm, serene, and open manner, while being confident that i can let people know the edges of my boundaries. i have moved from passive and passive-aggressive into being comfortable with being assertive. i’ve learned that i can trust myself to take care of myself. because of my work, but of huge benefit in my personal life. it feels good!