Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help, Story

Growth….

So I have this tree. Bought the tree a couple of years ago. Was it Home Depot with my wife. After a long Span in our marriage of great loss, death of two children, Financial bankruptcy and homelessness, and clawing our way back simply to Ground Zero, where we were prior to such that bank, took quite a while. Sometimes when I’m out and about I say to my wife today is a just say yesterday. Meaning we give ourselves whatever we want.

On that day, in that Home Depot, I saw a hibiscus tree. I looked at it, I walked around it, and I started to walk away when I heard the sweet and soft voice of my wife say, “Today, Bob, is ‘YES Day'”.

God love her! I picked up the small tree and put it in our basket. We checked out.

For the first several months of its life with us it lived on my back deck. Bathed in sunshine half the day, wrapped in the warmth of a Midwestern summer, the tree flourished. Then Fall came. We brought the tree inside, my wife treated it for some kind of insect-infestation and then slowly all of the leaves fell off of the damn thing. It had a true Charlie Brown moment.

I found that the following summer I would bring it back. And so in late spring and early summer of last year, I reported it and put it once again on the deck. It was once again bathed in sunshine and wrapped in the warm and sometimes human blanket of a Midwest summer.

It flourished! It flowered. All the leaves came back. Then Fall came but again. What did happen again? What that other shoe drop? Would like so many things in my life I’d have to go through a second set back after working so hard to re-establish, recalibrate, rebuild? I truly detest these moments in life when you have to once again risk everything you have worked for, Hope for, wanted and more.

The tree has been inside since the fall and as we enter early spring I can say, and as the picture shows, the tree is flourishing! It is grown, maintained its leaves, it has truly bounced back. Which gave me cause for pause to ask myself have I done the same?

Being the cynical son of a bitch that I am I sometimes wonder, “Have I?” Have I truly grown? Have I truly overcome, persevered, developed character, develop strength? Have I grown?

Being fair, balanced, making sure that I don’t intentionally beat the shit out of myself because it feels good, I say yes I have and there’s a long way yet to go. That’s the way it is for many of us. The road to Healing is long. It can be difficult. It can be arduous. But it can be glorious. It can be full of moments when we grow. The question is do you continue on the road when things get tough or do you stop?

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

The Self-Concept Merry-Go-Round

When we discuss things like self-concept, coping, problem solving and so on, basically any psychological fitness skill, in this format of a blog, I present things in a linear fashion. However, life is not linear. Life is processed. Life is twists and turns and back and forth and switchbacks and so on and so forth. 

The process below takes you through a cascading series of cognitions and emotional reactions and behavioral responses when we evaluate ourselves. Remember self-concept is that intrinsic voice of ours that evaluates and critiques our every move. 

When we act or behave, we evaluate our skills.  

  • I am a horrible communicator.
  • I can problem solve better than anyone else.
  • I can’t cope very well because I drink and isolate from people.  

As we evaluate our skills, we trigger a belief we hold about ourselves. 

  • I am a horrible communicator so I am weak or dumb.
  • I can problem solve better than anyone else so I am simply awesome.
  • I can’t cope very well because I drink and isolate from people so I am a big time loser.

As we trigger beliefs by evaluating our skills, AUTOMATIC emotional states arise.

  • I am a horrible communicator so I am weak or dumb and I feel sad.
  • I can problem solve better than anyone else so I am simply awesome and I feel happy.
  • I can’t cope very well because I drink and isolate from people so I am a big time loser and I feel hurt and afraid.

As we trigger beliefs by evaluating our skills, AUTOMATIC emotional states arise.   which are expressed through behaviors.

  • I am a horrible communicator so I am weak or dumb and I feel sad then I isolate and avoid making connections or enhancing the ones I have now.
  • I can problem solve better than anyone else so I am simply awesome and I feel happy then I dance and sing.
  • I can’t cope very well because I drink and isolate from people so I am a big time loser and I feel hurt and afraid and I drink and isolate even more or yell at my dog.

We are creatures of habit and often engage with the world in a pattered manner. We can get stuck in the patterns if we are unaware that they exist. Once the behavioral patterns are “automatic” so are the evaluations and emotional responses to those evaluations. This can become a nasty cycle.

Use the merry-go-round…

We… Act – – – Evaluate – – – Feel – – – Act – – – Evaluate – – – Feel

as a point of reference to demonstrate that we engage in patterned behaviors. When the pattern becomes so entrenched, our behaviors may seem almost “automatic” and “outside of our control. In addition, the belief is also automatic, as is the evaluation.

Posted in Mental Health, Psychology, Self Help

What is “Self-Concept”?

Self-Concept is the internal evaluation we formulate about our: 

  • Behavioral Skills 
  • Personality (Traits and Attributes)  
  • Temperament 
  • Life Story Past, Present and Future Self-Concept (the internal evaluation and cognitive processing) drives affect or mood. 
  • Sadness or Depression 
  • Fear or Anxiety 
  • Happiness 

Sometimes we refer to our self-concept as that little voice inside my head that critiques or encourages and motivates me as I live my life, interact with others, make decisions, figure out how to deal with the bullshit of life and so on. Self-concept is the outcome of my internal, deepest, most private, thoughts about myself. 

Self-Concept (a.k.a. an internal evaluation and cognitive processing) drives affect or mood AND fuels behavioral responses. 

  • When I am sad or fearful, I isolate
  • I Drink/Drug when I am hurt or afraid
  • When I am happy, because I believe I am good at stuff, I socialize and get out. 
  • I engage in hobbies when I believe that I have good skills and am a good person and I am happy.

At the end of the day, self-concept is among the most important cognitive processes we manage as we live our lives. Self-concept is responsible for a lot of our emotional experiences. Because self-concept is an intrinsic cognitive process it can often be very difficult to identify let alone modify and adapt for the purpose of improving our overall mental wellness. 

To begin the process of understanding our self-concept, the manner in which we evaluate ourselves, the way in which we critique our skill sets, watch this great little video below. As you watch the video, I want you to think about which character you identify with and why. 

Feel free to share which character you selected and why in the comments below.