Saturday, October 17, 2009

Successful self-dialoguing

Someone asked me of examples of my positive self-dialoguing. This is an interesting question since I haven't done self-dialogues in a long time. I do pose myself dialogue questions but for the last two years I have had dialogue exchanges every week or every second week, and these are the times I have been exploring (with a few exceptions).

About Self Dialoguing
I see a difference between "posing dialogue questions to myself" and "doing a self-dialogue".

For me doing a self-dialogue is setting aside time to pose questions, in a similar way as if I was getting a dialogue with a certified mentor. I might sit at my computer and write down my own questions and answers or I will talk out loud as I pose the questions and give the answers. When I write the answer and read it, the following question will come easily; following the process. If I do not write down the answers I can easily buy into my own beliefs or I can stay in general rather than specific. All things which would lead me to pose non-dialogue questions. In an ideal world I would speak out loud. When I speak out loud I activate different centers in the brain and this process will increase the efficiency of the questions. When I speak out loud I also let myself stay with one thread rather than jumping between different threads.

If I stay silent without writing, I will often pose non-dialogue questions. I see the same when I mentor a person who doesn't leave room for questions, but poses the questions him/ herself. In that situation I hear the person buy into beliefs, which then will not be questioned. I hear them jump from one example to the next, as if they were deciding that their beliefs were the same in these different situations. Often their feelings are the same OR there are similarities between the stimuli, but it is far from obvious that it is the same belief which is invoked in all the examples (this is more significant when the explorer is not a mentor him/ herself). Another situation that can happen is that the explorer doesn't stay with the example but goes to general with "this happens all the time".

Posing dialogue questions to myself
I see the dialogue process as a slow logic process, which helps me understand how I'm thinking and how I'm reasoning. I can then decide whether to change or not.

In many day-to-day situations I'm using a faster logic. I might pose one or more questions, and then decide to change without having done the whole part of uncovering my belief.

For example:
  1. In a meeting I get angry or annoyed with a person. I could do a dialogue about it, but since I know that I usually get annoyed when I am judgmental (I believe that the other person should be thinking differently) and I also know that I am not being present when I am annoyed, and so I am not listening properly. My fast logic will tell me: I am annoyed - get back to being present. (I can look at the reasons for annoyance later if I want to).
  2. In the playroom I'm often asked to repeat a sequence of movements and quotes until I can repeat it correctly. At times I catch myself in thinking "Could we please change this activity". I instantly change the thought to: I want to be useful, and being present is a premise for being useful, so I change it to "I want to be useful". (I can always do a dialogue about what happened after my playroom session).
  3. Crying: I have done so many dialogues about crying and they have always seem to end in: "I cry because I have a problem and I want someone else to fix it". So when I catch myself crying I start smiling asking myself: what do I want fixed, why, how...
Biggest change from exploring
My biggest change since I learned the dialogue process is that I stopped being suicidal, and I stopped "doing" depression. This was not done by one single dialogue. It was several dialogues. It was a combination of dialogues and life experiences. But I remember two dialogues that were part of the final "quitting depression".

The first one was a eight minute dialogue with Jon as a mentor. A dialogue where I explored what it meant to me to be always living with the notion: "I can always kill myself in 3 months". So it was this idea of always having a back door. If choosing happiness doesn't give me what I want in life such as job, partner, family, health etc.; if choosing happiness doesn't give me all these things I "need" to have in order to stay happy - THEN I could just kill myself. (I used to believe that some of my wants - symbols of success - were things I would "need" to be happy)

A person who has never been depressed, might not understand the magnitude of this. Part of being depressed was for me having my brain full of memories of things which didn't work out the way I wanted it. These thoughts were ranking from abuse and violence to minor things as feeling fat or getting the second best grade (instead of the best).

When I was depressed I was judging myself for not being good enough. And because there were people who were not treating me as I would have wanted, I was constantly judging myself for being judgmental towards them.

Over several dialogues I had given up this way of thinking, but I still had the "I can always kill myself in 3 months" back-door mentality. So in this particular dialogue (during a class break) I decided to give up this mentality. What I realised was: considering suicide sometime in the future is really not relevant: my life is now. Do I or don't I want to live now? And I decided to live!

A week later I did my "last depression dialogue". This was during an evening - a late evening! I was walking the dog in the rain. I was sad and on top of my sadness judging myself for not being good enough to imply the teachings to my own life. As I started to pose questions to myself I realized that my sadness was my way of asking for help. Even if no one was there to see my sadness. For about 30 years I helped my mom when she was depressed, and I had learned to use depression when I had a problem and no answers. But since my mom didn't want to see me sad, I had learned to do sadness when no one was around.

Suddenly I started laughing: here I was, on my own (except for the dog), how would sadness help me do anything if it wasn't just helping me NOT solving my problems. Since this day, I have never been depressed. I have been sad at times. I have wanted my life to be different. But I know forever that crying is for me "a cry for help". So anytime I realize that I'm sad, I just ask myself: what is my problem, who do I want to help me? And why do I not solve it myself?

Another issue I solved on the same walk in the rain, was choosing happiness. I went through all my fears of death and loneliness and realized that anything which could ever happen to me in life, being happy would make it ok.

Do what works
So happiness is now my first priority. At times I forget it and find myself focusing on future wants and at times this brings unhappiness into my life. Until I give up my want to have it right now and I choose happiness again. I still practice to make the priority of happiness stronger.

For me it works to blow up the issues I have, because I find it the best way to see how I can start changing it. An example was when I got feedback on my recertification tapes. My average on the tapes was very good, so we were in fact talking about details. I'm sure that anyone listening to the conversation would have thought I was not certifiable.

How do you self-dialogue and dialogue yourself? The questions? The attitude? How does it work for you?

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