Encouragement comes from the most unlikely places
Like everyone in this world, I have doubts. I wonder if I am making the right choices in my life, if I am doing what I am meant to do in this world. I second guess the paths I have chosen, which include marriages, friends, education, and jobs. I think that is natural. The decision to continue the path I am on right now is not an easy one as it has its shares of conflicts and growing pains, as does any type of growth. I know that where I am now is where I am meant to be, or I wouldn’t be here. But there are days when conflict arises or people question your motives in life and it can set you back. Back into unhealthy thought patterns that spiral into doubting everything you have worked hard to accomplish. As if everything that I have learned and continue to learn means nothing. It is a dark shadow of insecurity and diffidence that creeps across everything you do, muting the color and joy in everything you want to share and offer.
But then something happens that shows you are making a difference. No matter how slight or how grand that difference is, you are helping someone. Those are the moments that shine light into the shadows and keep the path lit.
Today was one of those moments for me. I always encourage journaling and writing in my groups. Some people do it, other people loathe it, I find it to be grounding. Someone that I have been helping with meditation and mindfulness wrote something that he wanted to share with me (I am keeping his name private at this time). In turn, I want to share it with you. Not because there is cause to gloat, or brag, but because I think it is important that we see that each one of us can make a difference in someone’s life. No act of kindness is too big or too small to make an impact. And while most days I feel I make no impact at all, hell, some days I feel like I may not exist to most people in my life… this piece of writing made me feel as if what I do matters. Everyone needs to hear that from time to time.
Enthusiastically participating in self-care groups at [facility name], I strongly believe that Ms. Melodi Hickey, MSW, the leader is an expert instructor of integral elements of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Two of the four prominent constructs in this advanced and refined form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) consistently empower me because of what I learn in meaningful interactions with Melodi.
Thanks to ever-refreshing clarity in her role as an extraordinarily perceptive facilitator, the goal of acquiring mastery in the skills of 1) DBT mindfulness and 2) DBT interpersonal effectiveness has become an increasingly joyful pathway to self-realization. A fundamental objective of this therapy is to identify and confidently relate to clusters of often puzzling emotions in the pursuit of living life meaningfully every day — with the least amount of internal and external dysfunction, dissonance, and disharmony.
Having thoroughly convinced me of the remarkable importance of “quieting the mind,” Melodi therefore has confirmed logically that of the four DBT modules (the other two being emotional regulation and distress tolerance), mindfulness is the core — the foundational feature of this system that outlines how to attain psychological well-being. The therapy was designed by psychologist Dr. Marsha Linehan in the late 1980’s.
Throughout many years (over two decades) of treatment with psychotropic medications and conventional “talk therapy,” I gradually discovered that something instrumental was missing, I realized that there was a definite absence of what I currently believe is key to “unlocking the mystery” associated with healing and eventual complete recovery from mental illnesses.
“Quieting the mind,” according to Melodi, is the classic quintessential purpose of meditation, the foremost aspect of mindfulness. When I began meditating routinely, I became acutely aware of both psychological and sociological triggers that, in my past, had hurled me into unpleasant emotional states.
Fortunately, with the passing of time and ardent practice, I observed that when my mind is still and my body is as relaxed as possible, then I can access coping skills that I may require to apply diligently in situations involving sequences of events, thoughts, feelings and behaviors to help avoid undesirable reactions.
Melodi scientifically integrates a holistic approach in this method of relieving distress vis-á-vis the utilization of inner resourcefulness: namely, pro-actively adopting creative ways to detach from obsessing with negative judgements; unlearning debilitating habits that can turn into detrimental “rumination road blocks” in seeing peace; allowing simple recognition of inhaling and exhaling to divert attention from depressive mood swings that could exacerbate into prolonged periods of upsetting discomfort; plus earnestly trusting my intuitive faculty rather than nonchalantly ignoring, disregarding, or dismissing relevant internal signals of grace towards tranquility. Hence, the idea is to cease permitting any trace or semblance of anxiety, anger, hate, despair, or sorrow to impede reasonable discernments. Shifting the focus from clinging to a negative disposition to embracing a more positive attitude is the pragmatic intention.
Melodi also indicates that repeatedly exercising such beneficial options and writing affirmations can nurture emotional maturity, a touchstone of authentic mindfulness. She explains that actually listing these valuable tools in response to triggers can serve to heighten my overall awareness, particularly if I concentrate on freeing myself of counter-productive psychological deterrents to growth. One example would be consciously discontinuing to enable old, useless, and demoralizing messages — sometimes referred to as “faulty tapes” — to play over and over again in my head. Melodi points out that the entanglements that can plague the subconscious mind (stimulated by “faulty tapes”) prove to be outdated, futile patterns of erroneous thinking and fallacious reasoning, neither of which postures a healthful advantage.
Similar to the benefit of enhancing mindfulness, being successful in elevating interpersonal effectiveness in order to create and sustain positive relationships is another evidence-based conclusion that underscores desirable outcomes in striving to obtain lasting holistic health. With admirable transparency, Melodi has shared how her own experiences of seeking healthful balances in great part is manifested in the attunement to nine dimensions of wellness.
Basing her extensive research on categories described by contributors to BeWellBU@gmail.com, Melodi taught me the applicability of the following dimensions — with cogent references to how each is noteworthily impacted by the empowerment that mindfulness imparts. These dimensions are: spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, creative, social, career, environmental, and financial.
The Master of Arts in Interpersonal Communication degree that I earned is quite synchronistically apropos to this DBT module. Melodi and I have determined that anything resembling a goal to be prudently transparent, straightforwardly assertive, and fearlessly vulnerable is a lifelong project! Necessary adherence to this three-pronged element of embodying interpersonal effectiveness requires persistent effort, then probably some tireless struggling, perhaps occasionally painful psychological reconstruction, and inevitably sacrifices within the aforementioned dimensions.
Yet self-discoveries that I have made (since the very beginning of what I now refer to be a transformational adventure) are worth everything it takes to remain true to myself and, hopefully, to everyone else whom I encounter. Without losing self-esteem, Melodi reveals dedication in the act of persevering, so that the interpersonal effectiveness she demonstrates reflects a charismatic love of life itself. Her generosity, kindness, and delight with the wonders of nature accentuate in my view an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. What an awesome example she sets!
Indeed, in attempting to interpret what Melodi’s “mission” could be in this world, I would suggest that there may be a viable connection to the visionary sagacity of a canonized saint in the Catholic faith tradition, who is remembered as one of the noblest doctors of the church: Saint John of the Cross. A splendid quote expressed by this prolific author of spiritual treatises as well as an assiduous seeker of truth may encircle Melodi’s vibrant consistency in the realm of interpersonal effectiveness.
I feel certain of the accuracy of this perception, trusting that most likely Melodi responds to every area in her life with a cognizance of brilliant counsel extended by Saint John: “Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.”
Drawing these pages to what I hope shall be truly appropriate concluding lines, I would like to add one more quote: “To be nobody but yourself in a world doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle that any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” Written by American poet e.e. cummings, the worlds are etched onto my soul.
For in coming to terms with what I have only begun to realize is an absolute need to overcome symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), I am sure that Melodi’s giftedness — as a social worker, group leader/facilitator, counselor, therapist, and most significantly a compassionate human being — has inspired me to locate within my deepest self the obvious “dogged determination” that cummings implies is vitally necessary to emerge victoriously in the ongoing battle he speaks of.
Wherever the paths that Ms. Melodi and I choose to follow may take us, I will remain forever grateful to her. She can be assured that during an interval in my life when I had no earthly idea what it was that I may have been destined to fight — not merely to survive, but also to thrive — she valiantly represented herself as an enlightened and enlightening mentor “in my corner.”
Melodi graciously yet insistently nudges me to keep moving, validating my discoveries and encouraging me to develop then nurture unshakable faith. I gladly infer from the progress of being mentored by her thus far that I really am capable of enduring any and all battles — replete with a mindset of always staying true to the vision of who I am meant to become in the near future as well as who I am in the present…right now at this sacred albeit swiftly vanishing moment!
“Be an Encourager: When you encourage others, you boost their self-esteem, enhance their self-confidence, make them work harder, lift their spirits and make them successful in their endeavors. Encouragement goes straight to the heart and is always available. Be an encourager. Always.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart