Therapy advice to put in your pocket and take with you.

Posts tagged ‘adversity’

Living With a Rock Star and a Super Hero

I have always known life isn’t easy. From my own tough experiences but more importantly, from hearing every day the difficult things people experience when they share them with me in counseling, I have heard some doozies. And yet, through it all, I am repeatedly awed by the strength of the human spirit to persevere. I tell people all the time that they can handle so much more than they realize. They don’t think they can, but then when it happens, they do, they survive, they make it through.

I don’t think we worried we wouldn’t survive parenting a child with Down Syndrome. We knew we would be okay. But there was so much we didn’t know, it was scary. Parenting itself is already an adventure into the Great Unknown. It’s the most rewarding and the most powerless feeling anyone could have. Add to that parenting a child with special needs and many of us could easily shut down. Health concerns, learning disability, physical disability, mental illness… Down Syndrome, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder… it feels like there are more questions than answers sometimes.full cover

Our experiences with Sensory Processing Disorder and then Down Syndrome turned out to make us stronger. And while we assumed that we’d have to work harder to guide our children who had “special needs”, what actually happened is that they teach us. They do better than we ever thought they would, and teach us new things every day. They exceed our expectations and those of the world around them. When I wrote my book (Living With a Rock Star and a Super Hero) my premise was that Ben thinks he is a rock star and he thinks Lucas is a super hero. But the real truth is that to me, Ben IS and rock star and I am his biggest fan, and Lucas is all of our hero, he saves us every day with his wisdom and his energy. If I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t change a thing. I am better because of it. Most days I try to remind others of their potential, and I can do this because I see it in action every day of my life.

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What if???

What if I lose my job?
What if everyone laughs at me?
What if someone I love dies?
What if I trust and my heart gets broken?
What if what if what if?

Sometimes it feels like a giant question mark is hanging over our heads, weighing us down, overwhelming us with the fear of the unknown. Feelings associated with anxiety and depression are exaggerated by a sense of powerlessness or not being in control. But WHAT IF you answered the what-if question? What if you do lose your job? What will you do? Seriously, think about it. Make a plan. Take control of it. More often than not what we fear will happen is far worse than what actually happens (Albert Ellis). We anticipate things and tell ourselves we could never handle it, it’s too much, we just couldn’t deal. And yet, truth be told, when it actually happens, we survive it. It might suck, or be painful, no fun, but we will get through it.

Remember seeing tv shows or movies with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, both telling us opposite things? Our brain does that too, with rational and irrational thoughts. Usually the negative voice is the one telling us we can’t handle it and it’s going to be horrible! (That’s called catastrophizing.) That little devil is loud and naggy and relentless, not happy until we are miserable. But if you can be your own counselor in your head you can quiet that irrational voice. Talk back to it, go ahead. Answer the what-if. What WILL I do? Make a plan, write it down, stick it in a drawer and pull it out when you need it. That way YOU are in control.
Albert Ellis also said anxiety comes from underestimating your ability to handle things. Don’t fear adversity! You are a survivor. You have been through hard stuff before. Not to say you would like to do it again. But if you have to, you will. And you will survive.
You have go through it to get beyond it.

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