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"Sad is How I Am!" Treating Dysthymia in Children and Adults
Dysthymia continuing education social worker CEUs

Section 26
Breaking Agreements: A Surefire Road to Depression
& Creating a Sanctuary to Heal Memories

CEU Question 26 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Depression
Social Worker CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs

Don’t put off living your life until you are “better.” That’s probably just the latest in a series of perfect reasons why you haven’t fully lived up until this moment. (“I’ll do it when I’m older.” “I’ll do it when I’ve learned more.” “I’ll do it when I have more money.” “I’ll do it when I find my soul mate.” “I’ll do it when I have the time.” “I’ll do it when...”) Regarding all those things you’ve put off until “later,” keep this in mind: you’re in your “laters” now.

In life we have either reasons or results. If we don’t have what we want (results), we usually have a long list of reasonable reasons for why we don’t have the results. We tend to rationalize (pronounced “rational lies”). All this time is

(A) a waste of energy and
(B) a convincing argument that we can’t have what we want, which becomes
(C) another reason not to live.

The idea of “work” implies there is something you do that you would not do without the reward. For most people, the reward is money. If you associate the primary reward of work with money, we suggest you change the reward. Try loving, maybe. Or service -- knowing you are providing people with something they really need. Sometimes you don’t have to change your work. All you have to change is your attitude about work.

If we think of work as a way of manifesting our love, then whatever job we can do can be fulfilling. If you’re working at McDonald’s, instead of thinking, “Oh, God, not another bus load of tourists having a Big Mac Attack!” You can think, “I’m helping provide food so that these people can more fully enjoy their journey.” Either way, you’ll be wrapping the same number of burgers and boxing the same number of fries. With one attitude, however, you’ll feel miserable; with the other, you’ll feel loving.

So, if you hate your job, either change your job or change your attitude about the job. One or the other. Don’t indulge in negative thinking about it. You may say, “I can’t afford to be without this job.” If you’re hopelessly mired in disliking the job, you can’t afford to keep it.

Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for any broken agreements in the past. Forgive yourself for judging yourself for having broken those agreements. While you’re at it, forgive yourself for breaking any agreements you may make in the future.

It may help you keep your agreements -- and not make agreements you don’t plan to keep -- if you understand the four primary reasons people break agreements. They are:

1. Approval. We say we’ll do something we really don’t want to do because we’re afraid someone might disapprove of us -- then we don’t have time to keep all the conflicting agreements. In addition, we lose our own self-approval in the process.

2. Comfort.
It’s more comfortable not to keep the commitment. This is actually a false sense of comfort. If, for example, you want to lose weight and it seems more comfortable to go off your diet and eat some cake, the resulting post-cake discomfort is likely to be greater than not eating the cake in the first place.

3. Rebellion.
Breaking agreements for rebels is a knee-jerk reaction to feeling hemmed in, limited or tied down in any way. Rebels especially feel rebellion toward authority figures and ultimatums. Unfortunately, rebelling against the “doctor’s orders” (an authority figure issuing ultimatums!) can be fatal.

4. Unconsciousness.
Unconsciousness is a very important reason that people break agreements. There are other important things to say about this, but we forgot them. Maybe we’ll remember later.
Uh, yeah.

Keeping agreements (and not making agreements you don’t plan to keep) is a good way to learn about your needs for other people’s approval and how to replace it with self-approval, how to expand your “comfort zone” so you’ll have more freedom, and how to move from automatic, unthinking rebellion into conscious, voluntary cooperation. And how to stay awake, too! The second part of our little “secret of happiness” is simple; whenever anyone breaks an agreement with you, let it go. In your mind, let the other person out of the agreement at once. Imagine that the person called with the best reason and apology in the world. Let it go.

Expecting human beings to keep their agreements is not realistic and an invitation to irritation. When someone breaks an agreement, especially someone important to you, it may bring back earlier images and feelings of being let down, betrayed and abandoned. Use the opportunity to heal these memories from the past, not to add further injury to yourself in the present.

If you keep in mind that you can’t have everything you want, here’s how to get anything you want:

1. Focus all your attention on what you want. Be interested in it. Be “obsessed by it.”
2. Visualize and imagine yourself doing or having whatever it is you desire.
3. Be enthusiastic about getting and having it.
4. Know exactly what you want. Write down a detailed description. Draw pictures. Make models.
5. Desire it above all else. Above everything else. Above all.
6. Have faith with involvement. Know you can have it, that it’s already yours. Be involved with whatever you need to do to get it.
7. Do the work required. How do you know how much work is required? When you have it, that was enough. Until you’ve got it, it’s not enough.
8. Give up all things opposing your goal.
9. Pretend you already have it.
10. Be thankful for what you already have.

Creating a Sanctuary to Heal Memories
Here is what I say to a client to assist them in creating a sanctuary to heal memories.

Be easier on yourself, on everyone and everything. As much as you can, suspend your judgement of the way things “should be,” “must” be and “ought to” be. Suspending these judgements gives you greater ease. Do things that bring you ease -- quiet walks, resting, hot baths, being with friends, meditating, contemplating, reading, writing.

Approach life with new attitudes -- acceptance, patience, flowing, giving, grace, effortlessness, simplicity, allowing, acquiescing, permitting, forgiving. Write these words, and others like them, on separate cards and put them in places you will see them. Pick one of these attitudes each day, and all day, no matter what happens, meet it with that attitude.

A sanctuary is a place you build in your imagination. It’s an inner place for you to go to visualize, contemplate, meditate, affirm, do spiritual exercises, solve problems, get advice, heal yourself, relax, have fun, hang out, and communicate with yourself and others.

We call it a sanctuary because the word seems to incorporate the qualities of preciousness, retreat, getting away from it all, safety and refuge. You can call your inner place whatever you choose. Some call it a workshop; others, a shrine or an inner sanctum. The name is not important. Building and using it is.

You build a sanctuary in your imagination. The nice thing about building in your imagination is that the time between design and construction is almost nonexistent. You can try something out, see how you like it, change it, see how you like that, and change your changes, all in a very short time.

The Healing of Memories
Most of us have memories of past hurts, disappointments and fears that keep returning, causing pain, resentment, guilt or fear. These situations may be from hours ago or years ago. When this happens, we’re letting a memory of something then negatively affect us now. Fortunately, memories, like any other part of our being, can be healed. Here’s a simple technique for the healing of memories. Go into your sanctuary, making sure you pass through the white light at the entry way. Have a seat in front of your video screen. You may want to ask your Master Teacher to join you. If so, stop by the people mover and pick up you MT on the way.

Let the white light surrounding the screen be off. On the screen, see the situation you feel upset about. Let it play itself out, and watch it as you would a movie. After it’s over, go back and freeze-frame a moment you found particularly upsetting. Imagine you have a large paintbrush full of black paint in your hand. Take the paintbrush and make a large, black X across the upsetting image on the screen. Let the image and the paint fade.

Now, illuminate the white light around the edges of the video screen. See the situation again, but this time, let it happen exactly the way you would have liked it to have happened. (Remember, never lose in your imagination.) This process actually replaces the painful or fearful memory with a joyful, contented one. For some situations, you may need to repeat it a few times; in other cases, once will do.

Adapted from You Can’t Afford The Luxury of a Negative Thought. John-Roger & McWilliams, Peter. Prelude Press: Los Angeles, California. (1990)

“Personal Reflection” Journaling Activity #6
The preceding section was about breaking agreements and creating a sanctuary. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section of the Manual in your practice.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 26:
What are the four primary reasons people break agreements? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test

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