---Alice Abrams

Monday, November 27, 2006

Echoes of Shadows

I took this photo because the shadow intrigued me. Shadows create the "light against dark" that make a picture more interesting than just a flat image.

We carry shadows on our souls and hearts - reflections of our lives, words said and deeds done, by us and to us. They create who we are, how we react to situations in our lives that fling us back into the past where a shadow formed. We cannot remove these shadows - they are permanent. What we can change is our reaction when these shadows loom large again and cause us pain.

I dwell in "Shadowland," where the shadows threaten to overwhelm who I should be. Instead, I live with past hurts and rejections and allow them more space than they are entitled to. I suppose this is true of most people who are chronically depressed. We've all been told about those "tapes" that play in our brains, you know - the negative tapes that replay over and over again every single thing we've been told about ourselves that hurt. "You're stupid, you're fat, you're lazy," all the hateful things we heard on the playground and in our homes. We've been told to replace the negative tapes with positive tapes. be con't.

One of the first things I read this morning:

Nurturing Yourself
Cognitive Restructuring

Just for a moment, picture yourself as a child clutching a ribbon tied to a beautiful helium-filled balloon. As long as you hold the ribbon, the balloon will do your bidding, following where you lead. But if the ribbon slips out of your hand, the balloon soars upward and you lose control over it. It may go only as far as the ceiling of the room you’re standing in, or it may fly into the sky.
The thoughts that race through your mind sometimes follow suit. You may start with a simple thought, such as "the train is late," only to have it drift out of control. "I’ll be late to work. I won’t make it to my meeting on time. My boss will be angry with me. My job is in jeopardy."

Sometimes even seemingly happy thoughts hurtle down the same track. "Wonderful, the lab report says my biopsy results are negative!" can quickly turn to "I wonder how good that lab is? Maybe the results were positive, and the lab didn’t pick it up. Cancer that’s undetected gets worse. By the time the error is found, it could be too late."

Cognitive distortions: These scenarios are examples of cognitive distortions. They can engage the stress response almost as easily as a growling Doberman bounding in your direction. So, too, can the barrage of negative thoughts that many people play through their minds on an endless loop, or flip on automatically when faced with certain people or situations. Familiar examples include: "I look awful," "I can’t do this," "I’m stupid," "I’m such a screw-up," and "I’m a loser." The voice may be yours or that of someone else from your life, such as an overly critical parent.

Even in the absence of obviously stressful situations, this inner critic can make you miserable and stressed. Cognitive therapy is built on the premise that thoughts and perceptions shape moods and emotions. A stream of highly negative thoughts may contribute to depression and anxiety. These negative thoughts are often riddled with irrational distortions and exaggerations. They can be examined and deflated, though, once you learn the skills of cognitive restructuring, a cognitive therapy technique that helps people change the way they think.

Cognitive therapy (I "googled" Cognitive Therapy and went to Wikipedia for this definition. It has much more information and definitions. I highly recommend!)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Cognitive therapy or cognitive behavior therapy is a kind of psychotherapy used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, delusional disorder and other forms of mental disorder.
It involves recognizing unhelpful or destructive patterns of thinking and reacting, then modifying or replacing these with more realistic or helpful ones. Its practitioners hold that clinical depression is typically associated with negatively biased thinking and irrational thoughts. Cognitive therapy is often used in conjunction with mood stabilizing medications to treat bipolar disorder

1 comment:

meho said...

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