Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Confidence Doctor

Earlier this week I had a repeat of a conversation with a particular pretend mom that circled back to the ever present difficulty I have with feeling guilty at the drop of a hat. She said we needed to find a 'Guilt Doctor' so that we could schedule me for a 'guiltectomy'. My gut reaction was that I had already mastered guilt so a 'Guilt Doctor' would be of no help. Instead I would need a Doctor that focused on whatever the opposite of guilt might be. She laughed like it was an unexpected, clever comment and the conversation moved on to Hawaii. I did not think of it again until just a little bit ago, today.

I realized that my opposite focus assumption was a surprise because when we think of having heart problems, we go to a heart doctor. And so on and so forth. Her thinking followed that logic pattern. And it is logical. But my brain has a tendency to jump to alternative logic patterns that I then must determine how or why it did so. I just realized that I was thinking along the basis of emotional/spiritual principles which would indicate that if one has a problem with excess pride, one would then need to learn from another who understands humility. Procrastination from diligence, To overcome the excessive leanings in one direction, we must learn to restore the balance by strengthening the counter condition. It is not actually an opposite so much as the flip-side, but I think you get the idea.

Which brings me back to guilt. The first definition of guilt is that the person or entity IS in the wrong, but the next one is, "feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy." As I had been stressing and worrying that I am not inclined by nature to be effusive and that my chronic illness non-functioning on Christmas Day meant that I was guilty for not expressing hardly any emotional reaction to the gifts I had been given (I was truly barely functioning and therefore not really reacting to anything), you can see the pattern of my recurring guilt compulsion.

If you've followed this blog, you have a fair idea of the source of that compulsion. For me, it comes from a life being raised by a family that expected me to be responsible for anything they decided they weren't happy about. It comes from being held to a higher standard of expectations and demands and perfection yet condemned and criticized only. I was trained to feel guilty because that made it easier to control me. I've done much to overcome the years of abuse, but this part seems to still need healing.

Which is, of course, the desire she was conveying in wishing for a guiltectomy. Only we can't look to 'guilt' for the answer. I realized, when I started thinking about this, that a recent project had already given me the answer.

My latest set of scriptures is about ten years old and is well worn and marked, but even though I was gifted a fresh set years ago, I haven't been able to let go of this set. It got me through the nightmare years. It has all the markings and the personalized indexing of the thoughts, ideas, scriptures, encouragements, promises, commiserations, understandings, ... that I don't want to lose. Last week it occurred to me to start transferring them into the online scriptures account that can save and sync with any device logged onto that account. Which would actually make them even easier to search out and find and cross-reference. I have finished the Old Testament (admittedly has far fewer markings than the rest, but also some of the most profound) and haven't started on the New Testament yet, but I discovered that some of the non-indexed markings actually followed the theme of confidence - confidence in God, and therefore in the future and in myself.

It occurs to me that I've been slowly working toward this idea for the past year. Another conversation (with my Institute teacher friend) almost a year ago impressed me with the idea of posting notes around my place that says simple, 'Trust Yourself'. Bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, front door. Most of the time, I don't even consciously process it, but I'd noticed that consistently seeing a message on another occasion had helped me break through the barriers that made it hard for me to take it in. And so they are posted still as a sporadic reminder whenever I happen to notice them.

And that is the answer. I was trained to feel responsible for any possible negative emotion anyone had. I was also trained to not trust myself. Confidence, rather than guilt, is what must be strengthened. (Perhaps I need to add a sign that I am not responsible for how others feel.) Learning that I can have faith that doing whatever my best happens to be at any given moment is enough, even if it's not perfect, or even as good as I could do in better circumstances. And learning that some people really are patient and caring enough that they're not going to hold it against me when I can't manage ideal.

Likewise, I need to master consistency at allowing them the same grace. (I mostly do ok with it, but I tend to slip when I'm having trouble with the ptsd.) But this will also help me as I've long noticed that I'm more likely to allow myself patience and acceptance and various graces when I can readily see/allow its application to others. (It's far easier for me to excuse others than it is myself, so when I can easily excuse a trait in others that I hold, it becomes easier to withhold condemnation for myself.)

I'm sure it will take many checkups and adjustments, but knowing the right doctor to go to makes all the difference.

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