Bite-sized pieces of life

Meticulously inserting the small lead into the yellow marker.

I find it fascinating to watch/hear children acquire language. I once wrote a paper on Wittgenstein’s theory of language and justice as my daughter began talking. These days, I get to hang with this little one as her words blossom. It furthers one to observe how to build any skill one step at a time, at a comfy speed. Simple does not always mean easy. At least that’s what the “Karate Kid” franchise suggests.

Deconstructing huge gargoyles of fear can also help people with wounded souls figure out the next healthy step. What tools do you need to dig yourself out of the hamster cage of indecision, confusion, depression? Sometimes we need professional help, including pharmaceutical assistance. No shame in looking for that help. It’s so much more “normal” to want to get BACK to “normal,” whatever that looks like. This is not to say that it’s OK to expect someone else to do all the heavy lifting in getting better. You have to put the time and effort in yourself.

Creative people can sometimes drift into irrational thinking. It is possible to approach obstacles with a rational format for untangling the knots. We can think our way through any quicksand armed with the right tools. Cognitive behavior therapy gives me the tools I need to find a more objective perspective and at least take the edge off of an uncomfortable event or situation.

Practice makes possible, not perfect. Taking just 10% of the sting out of a confrontation or conversation that went south is a much bigger step than I could expect 20 years ago. Thought records help me do that. Describing the situation, how it made me feel, reframing the effect, checking back in with my feelings, and assigning a percentage to the “before” and “after” reframing has become second nature. Even if you don’t notice an immediate difference, you have a tool you can use to keep swinging away at the problem. That’s better than sitting in a pool of dither, I’d say.

Looking for beauty is another tool to heal a wounded spirit. First steps might be to acquire an inexpensive digital camera and just start snapping. Keep it nearby and record anything and everything that catches your eye. You can always delete the lot of them. I’ll wager that something will pop out that makes you feel a little bit better. Save that photo of a blade of grass shoving up through the concrete, the pile of weather-grayed wood, the early robin on your back fence. In no time, you will accumulate a storybook of pictures that can bring a ray of light to a dark day.

Writing is a time-honored tool for healing. Write a letter to your hurt, your injury, be it physical or spiritual. Dump it all out on paper (or word processor). You’ll be surprised at how it lightens your load. You can then burn it, delete it, show it to a trusted friend, or collect it all in a compilation. It makes it much easier to let go of the hurt.

Burning stuff is particularly satisfying for me. BE CAREFUL with fire. I melted a stainless steel bowl burning love notes from a lover to my husband. I also damned near burned down my back deck when I lit up old letters from my ex to me–I neglected to douse the fire, and after smouldering all night, it burned a hole through several 2X4s. Needless to say, I did not get my deposit back when I moved house.

So be creative, and make sure any conflagration you may indulge in is OUT–totally out–before moving on to the celebratory portion of the exercise!