I first read (and re-read several times) Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns in 1986 when a bad marriage and divorce was crushing my self esteem. Several years later with the deaths of my mother and two dear thirty-something friends (one emotionally from PTSD and the other from leukemia), I was driven to new questions. Anxiety issues had become part of my regular day and managing those had become a priority.
I started a serious inquiry and practice of various forms of meditation and began to lead groups at the local university. Later, I read When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön. Next, I participated in a Landmark Forum at the urging of a friend (not an acceptable experience for me) and explored the concepts of The Secret, which I found solidly lacking. Around that time, I joined a group that met at a local church to watch videos, including Chodron’s inspiring conversation with Bill Moyers filmed in 2006. She spoke of spiritual warriorship, silent retreats, and accepting suffering.
It was through my experiences with Chodron that I began to feel a real change happening. Anxiety—my GAD and its related physical manifestations, were still a part of my life, but the thoughts in my head—the ones that kept me sane—had changed.
“Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape—all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.” ― Pema Chödrön
One day I asked myself, “What do I want?” The answer was vague—too vague to be meaningful, but I could answer the question, “What do I not want?” Maybe that sounds backwards but it worked for me. I actually sat with a notebook one night and wrote down all the things I didn’t want in my life. A few things on the list came with giant question marks or big red exclamation points. Not everything that I didn’t want could be eliminated, but some could be sidelined—they could be managed.
The short version of my story is that I set out on a different path years ago with the intent of developing friendships with those who understand me and know that a little twist of the unknown can be a good thing.
My short story: More about me here
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