Digging in the dirt

I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

Peter Gabriel

 

 

Recently,  the Rock and Roll Hall of  Fame inducted Peter Gabriel.  As the front man for the band Genesis, Gabriel’s elaborate costumes got the band noticed.  His unique singing and writing led to the band’s success. In 1986, Gabriel left Genesis and released the album So which sold five million copies. His next album Us was released six years later.  On that album you will  find the  song Digging in the Dirt.

According to Gabriel,Digging in the Dirt  is a song about his therapy.  There are many interpretations about the song.  These include domestic violence, murder and many others.(you can find more of those here.)  Since there are no factual interpretations, please indulge my therapeutic perception .

This is the chorus of the song :

This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]
This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]

Don’t talk back
Just drive the car
Shut your mouth
I know what you are
Don’t say nothing
Keep your hands on the wheel
Don’t turn around
This is for real
Digging in the dirt
Stay with me, I need support
I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

The beginning part,

This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]
This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
I told you [x4]

Don’t talk back
Just drive the car
Shut your mouth
I know what you are
Don’t say nothing
Keep your hands on the wheel
Don’t turn around
This is for real

 

I believe  this is Gabriel’s fear and  shame  speaking.  He wants to run, avoid, and not deal with the places he got hurt.  Gabriel is shaming himself with the repeated yelling “this time you’ve gone too far/ I told you”.  He knows that he should not be sharing his innermost thoughts with anyone( a message perhaps that he received in childhood).  In the next part of the song, Gabriel sounds like a small boy who is hearing what he needs to do :

Don’t talk back
Just drive the car
Shut your mouth
I know what you are
Don’t say nothing
Keep your hands on the wheel
Don’t turn around
This is for real

Gabriel’s inner shame and self loathing have taken over.  He is worthless, afraid, and ashamed.

Although afraid and ashamed, Gabriel is aware that he is in need of the therapist’s help. Later in the chorus he finds his healthy voice:

Digging in the dirt
Stay with me, I need support
I’m digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

The phrase “stay with me I need support” is a request to  the therapist to be with him on this journey of “finding the places I got hurt”.  He knows that he is in a trusting therapeutic relationship because he not only wants to find those places, he wants to “open up the places I got hurt”.

Gabriel sounds calmer, less shamed, and very aware in the next verse:

The more I look, the more I find
As I close on in, I get so blind

He knows there’s a bunch of issues that he has to find.  He gets overwhelmed as he starts to uncover the pain.

This song is a great example of the therapeutic process.  The chorus is so appropriate for many people that I have seen over the years.

I  have seen  clients having a  “this time you’ve gone too far” reaction  many times by doing the following:

  •  having “hot flashes” (men too)
  • getting uncomfortable physically–fidgeting, playing with pens, keys, pillows, etc
  • needing an immediate bathroom break
  • standing up
  • abruptly changing the subject
  • leaving the session

Like Gabriel’s experience, therapy is scary.  It’s full of fear, pain, shame and guilt.  People keep looking and finding.  They keep asking “why” sometimes without answers.  Sometimes they find answers that they don’t like. Sometimes people become aware that they need to take action and those actions are overwhelming and scary.   Sometimes there are no answers, only questions.  Sometimes, my best and only contribution, is my understanding of the pain, sadness, and loss that my client is feeling.

I’ve seen many clients over the years go through storms in order to find their rainbow (If you’d like to read more on this topic,  go to one of my old blogs “You can’t have a rainbow without a storm”).   I enjoy the experience of seeing people make changes in their lives.  As we “dig in the dirt”,  we get to plant seeds and crops that grow year after year.  They are fruitful, they are plentiful, and they are healthy.  Don’t be afraid to dig–Change is Possible!

 

 

 

 

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Boundaries

Having boundaries is a significant sign of  having a good healthy self.  If I feel good about myself, then I want to associate with people who keep that good feeling going.  However, if I don’t feel good about myself, I may allow people to treat me badly, and as a result feel bad.

Here is a list of behaviors that demonstrate unhealthy boundaries.  Identify which one(s) you do, and identify:

1) the origin of the behavior

2) how the behavior has effected you

3)what you can do the change you behavior

feel free to comment on  this list

 

 

 

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Wizard of the Desert

Milton Erickson is the Godfather of change therapy. Prior to his work, therapy was about the patient talking endlessly and gathering insight into his or her problems. Erickson, a physician by trade, started using hypnosis to produce profound change in his patients. He was rejected by the psychological community at the time for not doing “real therapy”

This video, a trailer for a movie about him, gives a great overview about Erickson. It highlights his work as well as his handicaps. His work has inspired many of the people who appear on this video.  They have written books about Erickson and his therapy. Clearly his work has been influential to me since this website is titled “change is possible”

For more information about Erickson, refer to Jay Haley’s book about Erickson

http://books.google.com/books?id=VovkFZqQfMIC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=milton+erickson+biography&source=bl&ots=Dbf6PkK4CZ&sig=oWNZK3GBs0MSiy7YKyLKk8nhBaE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1wuUUfvgEcTc4AP6joHgBg&ved=0CEoQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=milton%20erickson%20biography&f=false

Enjoy this snippet about one of Psychotherapy’s most unknown therapist.

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Favorite books

My office is full of conversations.  Many are sad and painful.  Others are joyous and happy.  When a client has lots of pain, particularly in the beginning stages of therapy, they need as many resources as possible.  I will often recommend that a client get a particular book in order to continue their progress between our sessions.

At my pinterest  account, some of my favorite and most recommended  books are  pinned.  They are listed with a brief comment about each book. You can find the list  here.

Let me know which ones  you’ve read that have been helpful .  If there are ones that are not listed, let me know those as well.  Happy reading!!!

 

 

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The Question

What questions do you get asked over and over again about your practice?

My model of therapy involves having two way conversations.  Like most conversations, there are discussions and questions.  Some of the questions are logistical—payment, appointments etc, others are more therapeutic. The question that comes up more often is actually not directed towards me.  It is a question asked rhetorically by my clients about their right to have their feelings.  These are a few samples:

“Why should I be depressed?  I have everything that anyone would want.”

“Why should I be upset about my bonus?  There are so many people who don’t have jobs? “

“I really shouldn’t be upset about my husband talking to that woman at the party, should I?”

This sample of questions shows that people doubt their self perceptions and right to feel.  Self doubts then lead to self loathing about not only feeling these feelings, but having them in the first place.  Their self perception is that they are weak, shallow, and ungrateful people.  This process of invalidation followed by self loathing becomes a downward spiral of lower self esteem.  What a crappy process!!!

How do we change this process?  Give myself permission. What does that mean? According to thefreedictionary.com, permission means – approval to do something.  When I give myself permission, I am granting myself the approval to have feelings, and feel my feelings.  That is powerful permission!!  Permission also comes with its own self-talk channel.  This “channel” can run in my head at any time and tell me “it’s ok to have these feelings”; “it’s ok to feel these feelings”.  This ongoing permissive self-talk gives me the power to own my feelings.  They are mine after all!!!  Once I start the process of permission, I can then challenge my self doubts and self perceptions and can empower myself to be a more feeling person.  If I can own my feelings without the self doubt, I can then work on changing other bad patterns and cycles.

Remember, change is possible!

 

 

 

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Stuck in a Moment

You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it

                 Bono

 

Royce White is a professional basketball player.  At least he and his current employer, the NBA’s Houston Rockets want him to be one.  Royce has yet to play a minute this season in spite of the fact that he was their number one draft pick.  You may ask why is this?   Royce White is challenging the Rockets and ultimately the NBA’s way of looking at mental illness.  White has both Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obesessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD) and wants to have his own mental health Physician to determine if he is fit to play on game days.  White sees mental illness and physical illness as the same and has asked the Rockets to see things his way.  The Rockets just want him on the floor to shoot, rebound and score, the same traits that they saw in him in last year’s NCAA’s basketball tournament.  The conflict between the Rockets and White has led him to be suspended by the team.  Mr. White is stuck in a moment that he cannot get out of.

My definition of anxiety is that people with anxiety issues think way too much about things that most people don’t think about at all.  On HBO’s Real Sports, White showed us his excessive thinking.   He was obsessed with other people’s driving and texting.  He shared about his fear of flying, and showed us his excessive organization of his closet.  It’s very clear, after the Real Sports segment, that although White may be a great basketball player, it’s his anxiety that has placed him in his current position.  This does not make him unique at all.  Many clients that I’ve seen over the years are stuck in their anxiety.  They have irrational thinking, avoid scary places, and feel terribly out of control.  In addition, they are constantly having “what if” thinking about everything.  The amazing part about my anxious  clients is not their disorder, but how they change.  Whether challenging their perceived “safety zone”, changing their thinking, or by taking healthy risks, they manage to step by step feel better and get better.  It’s a fascinating journey from stuck to free.

Although he is stuck in a moment that he can’t get out of with his career, Royce White has great goals.  He said during the interview that he wants to be a good person because he knows that anxiety can lead to alcoholism, drug addiction, homicide and suicide if not properly treated.  I too have seen this  phenomena about untreated illnesses leading to bigger problems.  Perhaps Bono knew this as well since “Stuck in a Moment” is written about the deceased INXS singer Michael Hutchins who committed suicide.   The Royce White’s of the world or any of my clients,  need to know that if you are that stuck there is hope. The last line of the song gives us this-   “It’s just a moment, this time will pass”

 

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Make The Best of What’s Around

Here is the latest episode of Tales From the Office

 

Make the Best of What’s Around

Today’s  show  is a combination of 2 of my loves, music and sports.  The first “make the best of what’s around” tells us about some very courageous folks who seem to know how to get by and get ahead in spite of major obstacles.  The second tale “the daily racing form” is sage advice if you’re looking to get to winner’s circle in the most important race you’ll ever run.

 

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