Monday, June 28, 2010

Arguing with Reality

Yesterday Beatrice came for a follow up visit. She’s been off opiates for a few weeks after completing an Accelerated Opiate Detox, so lots of feelings and emotions are busy rising to the surface for her. Like many people, she struggles with how to deal with things that don’t feel good to her.

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But that’s a KEY point: she recognizes that they don’t feel good to her! That awareness in itself is a huge milestone!

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Here’s an example: she is returning to work after some time off because she went to a 10-day treatment program. She dreads returning to her job, she says, because she hates it. I urged her to break that down a bit.

Is it the people you work with?

Is it the actual job that you do?

Is it the commute?

Is it the lack of ergonomic desk furniture available?

She hates answering the phone, which is a bit of a bummer since she’s in customer service.

Break that down, I urged.

They get mad at me.

I feel bad because I have to tell them what they owe, and often they are in financial straits.

(Of note, as a result of looking some realities head on, Beatrice herself has made the decision to put her house on the market, narrowly escaping foreclosure; she just can’t afford the mortgage payments. While there are many emotional attachments to this home, it is a huge relief.)

So then we play the “Why?” and “Is It True?” Games.
Why do you feel bad about telling people they owe money?

Because they can’t pay it.

And Is It True that you are responsible for that?

No.

Is it possible that—just like your experience of embracing reality when you stopped using opiates—these people may experience their own sense of being set free by the truth?

I hadn’t thought of it that way….

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Beatrice and I came up with her homework assignment: She is placing a little card on her desk, and these are Byron Katie’s words: WHEN YOU ARGUE WITH REALITY YOU LOSE, BUT ONLY 100% OF THE TIME.

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Her plan is to read this to herself just before she answers each call. Certainly the purpose is not to share this epiphany with angry or anguished callers. It’s a small step for Beatrice, but it is a lesson in moving forward bit by bit, toward a life where she owns responsibility for creating her own happiness.

Great stuff is happening every day at The Coleman Institute.

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Joan Shepherd - FNP

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