is the best revenge!
SOURCE: Composite of many lists. Based on Amy Morin’s book “13 things Mentally Strong people Don’t Do.” Her 3-pronged approach to developing mental strength is about controlling our thoughts, emotions & behaviors (T.E.A.).
NOTE: Keep in mind that these “Don’ts” are the domain of our WIC (Damaged Child) & PP (Introject) therefore characteristics of our damage – which can be corrected. In order to be Mentally/Emotionally healthy we need to develop the Healthy Adult and Loving Parent (the UNIT).
Understanding the reality of our early experiences helps us accept that we can’t ‘Just do it’ or ‘Just let go’. All of Recovery is a process.
ALSO, some of these issues may be more deeply ingrained in us than others & will therefore take longer to heal. Some will never go away, but can be diminished greatly, and we can learn to manage them whenever they surface.
EMOTIONALLY & MENTALLY HEALTHY People (EMHP):
EMOTIONAL / PSYCHOLOGICAL
EMHP Don’t Let their Emotions Control them
ACoAs are learn, directly & indirectly, to deny & ignore any emotion the family / school / religion disapproves of. In some families it’s anger, in others it’s sadness & the need to be comforted….. This left us with the Toxic Rule “Don’t feel”. Our individual personalities cope with this injunction by either suppressing most or all emotion & being “all head”, or by consumed by our accumulated pain to the point of being overly-dramatic about anything that is upsetting, either too scared or too angry. This tells us that “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”.
In either extreme we are being ruled by the WIC not knowing any other way of dealing with this Toxic Rule. In order to be an Emotionally & Mentally Healthy Person the UNIT must be in charge.
EMHP can tolerate discomfort because they hold less old pain & because they know how to comfort themselves when distressed. They can identify & accept their emotions, know how to process them & chose how to act, so that they’re not controlled by them.
The way we perceive a situation has a tremendous power to either help or harm us. Since our emotions are largely generated by what we’re thinking (see post: T.E.A. & Anxiety) we can modify the reactions to our emotions by correction any CDs we may have. Overcoming challenges starts with seeing things objectively, rather than reacting from childhood damage. (ACoA Laundry List)
EMHP Don’t Try to be Happy all the Time
One of the coping mechanisms for ACoA is the try to be ‘UP’ or ‘positive’ all the time. This usually applies to the Hero (Toxic Role) or the “Good girl/boy” false persona. This is as unrealistic as being miserable all the time. It’s just another way to deny having a wide range of emotions. For every ACoA, no matter our style, our underlying emotion is fear/terror. So we need to feel safe before we can truly be happy.
No one is happy all the time. Feeling peaceful & content – a day at a time – does not mean we have no complaints, dislikes or distress. EMHP don’t try to avoid painful emotions but incorporate them in an effort to be whole, to honor their True Self. They know that happiness, victory & fulfillment are a wonderful, valuable part of life, but not the whole story.
EMHP Don’t Live in the Past
ACoAs who are still ruled by the WIC & their PP think, feel & act as if they are still 5, 10 & 15 yrs old – still living in their dysfunctional family. Most of the time our reactions to present day events – positive, negative or neutral – are the same as when we were kids, because we project our family on to all current relationships.
EMHP avoid wasting mental energy in past disappointments OR in fantasies of the ‘good old days’. They’ve carefully evaluated both the distresses & the valuable experiences of their early years, so now they can invest most of their energy in creating the best possible present & future. Being present allows us to see things as they really are. EMHP tend to have a mindful, attentive way of engaging with the world.
As unhealed adults, ACoAs repeat the life-patterns set out for us by our family & other sources, which caused us to take many wrong turns – in the form of repeated harmful relationships, self-harm, deprivations….. While our history contributes to out over-all makeup, we are NOT our damage.
EMHP learn from their ‘mistakes’ & correct distorted thinking, so avoid repeating harmful patterns. This may include making amends to others (8th & 9th Steps) & forgiving themselves for ignorant or stubborn adherence to their Toxic Rules, so they no longer have to obsess about what happened in the past. EMHP know this takes time & they have the patience & perseverance to always be moving forward, no matter how slowly. One 12-Step slogan says: “Look back but don’t stare”. Some benefits from thinking about the past can be: identifying the lessons, considering facts not just emotions, & looking at PPT from a new perspective.
EMHP Don’t Violate / Sacrifice their Personal Values
Each of us have more than one value system – what we were taught by our family, by our religion, our early social environment, & what we develop in ourselves (from our Core Truth). Some of these may overlap, some may not. The problem for ACoAs is that we are either not allowed to find out what we truly believe, or more often have been so brainwashed by our toxic upbringing that we’re not allowed to live according to our personal beliefs even if we know what they are. (Core Values lists)
EMHP have figured out what they consider important – even essential to their identity – for themselves & in relation to the rest of the world. A value is a belief, a mission, or a philosophy that is meaningful but not always conscious – as many are taken for granted. They know that their personal Core Values are not automatically the same as that of other people or institutions, & they don’t try to impose them on others.
They do NOT value the impossible, like perfectionism, eternal human love, fairness…. They know everyone falls short sometimes, so they get back on the horse when they don’t live up to their ideals, & are also patient & forgiving to others then they also fall short. (MORE….)
NEXT: EMHP – Part 1b