Category Archives: Managing problems

Nosce te ipsum: Know Yourself

*Author’s note: Before I get started here, I would just like to say, I love it when you come to visit.  Yes, I mean you.  I would love to sit down and have a chat with you.  I would love to hear what you have to say on whatever I write about.  So, if you come by, why not leave me your calling card, or a nice little note that let’s me know you were here?  Frankly, it encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing.  In other words comments are welcome and encouraged here.  I generally leave a little question at the end as a prompt to get a discussion going.  You can answer it, or not, as you prefer.

I had a powerful experience on Saturday that got my juices flowing and the wheels spinning for my little bloggity once again.  The sucky experience that I am having is still sucky and I am still experiencing it.  But, I feel the need to talk about something that I feel is very foundational to overcoming emotional difficulties: knowing yourself.

In “The Matrix” Neo  goes to visit the Oracle to find out if he is “The One” (i.e. the savior of their world).  She points to her little sign in her kitchen (which says Temet Nosce, by the way.  This is just a variation of the phrase) above the doorway and explains to him rather bluntly that if  you are something, you just know it.  You don’t need to be convinced by your friends, you don’t need constant reassurance, you just know it.  I know that I am a good mother.  I know that I am an artist.  I know that I am gifted in counseling others.  I know that I am a Christian.  I don’t need other’s to affirm this, I just know.

I truly feel that I am meant to do this blog, and to write books.  But, one thing I have had a hard time convincing myself of is that I AM a writer.  As in, “this is my identity.”  As in, “Hi.  I’m Stephanie.  I’m a writer”  (Not that I would actually introduce myself that way.  But, I think  you get my point).  I feel a little surprised when people praise my work here on this blog.  Sometimes, I almost don’t believe them.  Silly, I know.

This is mostly because I find writing to be a difficult, sometimes agonizing, experience.    I’m not goo-goo eyed over writing like some authors.  It takes me twice as long as normal people to write anything of worth or significance.  I find it excruciating to get started most of the time.  I find it difficult to maintain my focus once I get going.  I feel guilt for spending 2.5 hours writing 600 words.  I have to manage my ADHD and other learning difficulties to finish my task.  In other words, I just don’t LOVE writing like I love doing other things.  I have asked myself more than once, “How can I BE a writer if I don’t LOVE it?”

This question has stopped me from moving forward in doing the things that I am meant to do.  I just couldn’t see myself doing the things I am meant to do because I couldn’t (or perhaps wouldn’t?) believe in my identity as an writer.

But Saturday changed all of that.  I met with about 4 other people.  2 of whom I have known a really long time, 1 I knew fairly well, and 1 I sort of knew a little.  We met together to encourage each other.  To help each other overcome the log jams stopping us from flowing in our gifts.  I spoke for a while about where I was on a few things, including the I’m-supposed-to write-books-but-can’t-get-started-because-I-don’t-believe-I-am-an-author problem.  The leader of our group (Rob Stoppard.  A great guy, you should check him out) said to me people get stopped up in doing what they are meant to do because they believe lies about themselves.    Lies like “I don’t love writing so how can I be a writer”, or “I am never going to change”, or “I can’t change”, or “I will always be (fill in the blank)“, or whatever you say about yourself.

The only way to combat this is to change your habit of lying to yourself, and start telling yourself the truth.  I think if you look deep in your heart you can find your gifts, your talents, and your identity.  It’s like a treasure box just waiting to be opened, and you hold the key to open that treasure box.  And, if you open it you have to decide what you believe about what’s inside.  You have to decide that the treasure is who you are, or not.  But sometimes, even we do this, we get lost on our way back.  Parts of the treasure get lost and never make it home.  Like me and this writing thing.

The group had me do an exercise that has forever changed my life.  They first asked me to look in the mirror and say out loud to myself, “I am a writer.”  I felt more than a little shy about doing this.  So, they offered themselves up to act as a sort of mirror.  I had to look people in the eye and say out loud, “I am a writer.”  They took it one step further and had me say, “I am a famous writer.”  And although it was a little difficult to look people in the eye and say these truths out  loud, I did just that several times.  I stated a few other things I have had a hard time believing lately as well.  As soon as I said these things, it’s like a spotlight was suddenly focused on my poor, lost treasures.  I could find them, and bring them home.  I could take them within my psyche and revel in the simple pleasure of knowing myself.  It was like being born again.

And now, I feel free to do what I am mean to do.  I believe that I am a writer.  That even I can be a famous writer.

And you are free to discover things about yourself you never knew.  You can go on a quest to find your treasure, to change your life into something better, to become who you are meant to be.

It’s your turn now…

Tell me something you know about yourself…

Anger that burned deep.

Hello again! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another testimony about overcoming emotional difficulties.  I don’t have another person lined up, so I am going to dish on myself.  So here we go…

It’s kinda tough to pick just one experience that I’ve had in the past 22 years that highlights an emotional difficulty that I have overcome because a) there are so many, and b) they are all interconnected which makes them complex and difficult to articulate clearly.

I have mentioned that my mother was an addict.  Her last addiction was prescription painkillers, which ended up taking her life in a (presumably) accidental overdose.  She was secretive about her addiction, and it was not immediately obvious to me because I had no knowledge about addiction during my childhood.  However, the symptoms of her addiction problem were usually at the forefront of her parenting because she was either at best confusing, or, at worst, abusive.

For example, my mother would periodically become very angry with the rest of the family.  Why she was angry with us was almost always a mystery.  One of the confusing things she would do during these random periods of mystery anger was to not let my sister and I do the weekly cleaning.  She would storm around, bang things, with a face screwed up in anger doing the cleaning.  I would feel awkward and strange.  I was afraid to say anything to mother for fear of upsetting her further.  Richelle and I walked around as if the floor was made of nails (sharp side up) while giving each other furtive looks of confusion and despair.  After a few hours of this, I would be practically begging for her to let me do the cleaning.  Anything to ease the stress and tension I felt.  Then, just as mysteriously, she would get over it.  Very occasionally there was some kind of discussion that really didn’t make any sense or have anything to do with reality.

As a child, these sorts of events caused confusion and fear.  This started embers burning in my soul that would smolder into my adulthood.  As I began working through the hurts of my childhood in counseling, I began to see my mother’s transgressions with anger, hurt, disappointment, and frustration.  These emotions ignited the long- burning embers from adolescence into raging flames.  It took a lot of years, and work, before I could even consider forgiving my mother.

For me, forgiving my mother meant giving up the right to be angry with her.  And believe me, I had felt I had every right to be angry with her for her transgressions.  I think some of you may even agree with me.  However, if unleashed, my anger could be a destructive force that wreak havoc in most areas in life.  I was deeply invested in my rights.  So much so, that God, in His infinite wisdom, had to work every angle to help me to see that holding things against my mother was actually holding myself prisoner to my own anger.  He had some pretty huge mountains to move.  Fiery, raging, burning volcanos. He showed me that I would be paying the consequences for my for my self-righteous attitude, like so much volcanic ash.  I would end up psychologically and spiritually dead, like those poor people on Pompeii.

As God labored to show me the truth, the light began breaking through my eyes, which were tightly shut against it.  Truth always stand the test of time, regardless of what we think or feel about it.  I eventually knew I had a choice to make.  On one hand, my right to be angry with my mother, on the other, forgiving her and moving on.  Forgiving her meant giving up my rights, but it also meant freedom.  Freedom from the burdens of pain.  Freedom from the consequences of my choices.  Freedom to live life to it’s fullest.

As you can probably guess, I chose to give up my rights.  And, indeed, I felt freer.  The rage no longer held me captive, torturing me incessantly, burning me from the inside out.

Today, I mostly look on my relationship with my mother regret and sadness, but, I am (mostly) not angry.  If she were still alive, I might even attempt to have a relationship with her, which is saying something.

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Now, it’s your turn… Do you have something you overcame that you would like to share with the rest of the world?

When a problem can’t be overcome, it’s time to tango…

You’ve done all you can to overcome your problem.  And yet, day after day, it sits there like a faithful dog.  Waiting patiently for you to get out of bed so it can pounce on  you, lick your face, and leave hair all over your fancy work clothes.

How would you like to wake up to this guy?

Or this guy?

By definition, overcoming is the act prevailing over, overwhelming, or overpowering something.  When we overpower our emotions, we win and can keep fighting for another day.  Once we have won, we can walk away and leave the problem there.

But sometimes, something cannot be overcome.  Sometimes, we have to find a way to cope, to manage, to live with, to work with a problem.  Let me give you an example…

I have mentioned before that I have ADHD and some form of dyslexia. Brain chemistry cannot be permanently changed, it can only be managed.  I can take drugs to help reorganize, reduce, or increase the malfunctioning or missing chemicals.  However, if I stopped taking the medications, my brain would go back to the way it was before.  Medications help, but I still have to manage the emotional difficulties associated with this problem.

When two people tango, someone always leads, and it’s usually the guy.  Each partner has to “lock their frame” by making their arms strong and stiff in a semi-circle.  Like this:

Look spaghetti arms!  Lock your frame!

The leading partner gets to decide where the dancing couple is going, when they spin, or twirl, or dip.  The locked frame, the subtle pressures of the hands, certain movements indicate when the following partner is to move and where.  When managing your problem, you should be the leading partner, not the other way around.  You get to decide when you dip, and twirl, and go left.

But, you have decide that you want to lead, not follow.  You have decide that you want to make progress, not wallow in self-pity, or shame, or whatever you do with your problem.  You have to decide that you want to improve.  That’s the key.

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Tell me, do you have a problem that you have to manage?