The Impact of Words on our Psyches
Two evenings ago, while speaking with the Editor-in-Chief of Mental Health Affairs, Max E. Guttman, my homie, Max, told me that he felt like he was going to oversleep tomorrow.
If you know me well, you know I rapidly and automatically reject predicting a negative future.
I consider the thinking that tomorrow is probably gonna suck, or anything of the sort; a self-fulfilling prophecy that you can count on!
Where did we learn this crap, Max?
This is a direct question, and as you are the person who is posting this blog, can you please answer this question.
Max, where did we learn this crap?
To be quite honest with you, Craig, I learned this type of jugdgemental and self-critical behavior from other peers. Deep down, I know, as we talked about privately, that I take a whole lot of medications to manage my mental health disorder. Some of these medications are sedating. However, after needing to reschedule a few meetings with this one peer because I needed to rest, I found myself blaming my body and its need for additional sleep. This is absurd!
It is absurd because I shouldn’t blame my body for needing anything natural, especially sleep. Also, because I was defending this internal need to a fellow peer who should have been more supportive and understanding of this typical side effect of psychotropic medication. Instead, I began to internalize this situation because the peer shamed me and made me feel like this wasn’t normal, and something that made me a ‘sick’ person. Something I had to correct so I could function at his level and pass as healthy.
And Max, what do you think will happen if you, and me and others, all continue to restate ourselves with respect for the impact of our words on our psyches?
Restatement is key, Craig. We need to first identify these negative messages we have been internalizing and redirect them. The very energy that gutting out these messages and toxic behavior, I am quite certain, will yield the most fruitful sense of worth yet for many folks out there who engage in this sort of self-criticism.
You see, I was raised by narcissists. That is why I know this stuff. I know how psychologically derailing it is to experience the mere suggestion that something “bad” can happen and knowing that sometimes those really “bad” things do happen. I know how crazy it can make me to not be 100% sure. This is a “Mind Fuck”. If you are still reading this, you know what I am talking about.
My response to Max was this voice message↓
My response to Max was this voice message:
He told me he liked my perspective. He acknowledged that “words are spells”. I was taught that by someone who hurt me deeply, nevertheless, they were and are correct, what we say matters a lot. We don’t just impact ourselves; we impact those around us.
I admit that sometimes I do the opposite of what I am saying here. I would prefer to view myself as a work in progress, and not something less flattering. But so what? That is exactly my point!
Every moment is ours to make a choice in. How much more simple of a choice can most people make than saying something one way and adjusting it to another way?
This is about you doing you, because no one else can do you better.
Although I cannot relate personally, most people from an early age, God willing, associate their birthday with knowing that a celebration of some sort, in honor of them is coming and it is all about celebrating your life and future.
This is an analogy.
If you associate tomorrow with something uplifting or satisfying or anything of decent value to you; then tomorrow will be that much more of what will be good for you. The result is much less important than the process.
That sounds like recovery to me.
So I hope that with each day forward, perhaps there is a way to think about tomorrow as “I woke up when my body was rested enough for me to wake up. Some of this is not in my control so I don’t need to feel bad about it. Even if I wake up much later than I would have liked; I could do something good, and healthy, and hopeful and kind and self-loving and transform myself into the man I deserve to be in this moment and do it again and again and again.
At some point it gets a little easier.
One last thing, a while ago Max asked me to write about friendship and peer support.
It immediately dawned upon me that this is a good example of what friendship AND peer support is.
What a cool blessing it is to create something good, via an honest and true process, done for the right reasons.
That reason being that you care about others and you know that it is a gift, giving of your heart and experience to others, especially when they also do the same for you.
If you want to know more about how Craig processes and applies these concepts, please check out his newly published book ‘The Craig Lewis Guide to Surviving the Impossible’