One of the most important things I’ve learned through going to therapy is the power of thought. I came to realize that a lot (not all), but a lot of my misery was due to my thought process and the lies I was telling myself, all day, everyday. Once I discovered how to control my thoughts better and really focus on reality, my life changed real quickly. I’m still not perfect at it, but I’m getting better and better each day at focusing on the positive things in life and not allowing myself to dwell in anger and self-pity.
The one thing I love about my therapist is that she doesn’t make me feel bad or guilty for having such angry, negative thoughts or feeling sorry for myself. As a matter of fact, she completely validates those feelings and the right I have to feel them. However, she has also taught me that it does me absolutely no good to entertain those types of feelings. For example, she made me realize that I absolutely have the right to be angry about losing my daughter and having to live the rest of my life here on Earth without her. It’s so normal to feel that way. But, on the other hand, dwelling on the anger and allowing myself to justify it is not helping me at all. It’s not going to bring Hailey back any sooner and it’s making me and those around me miserable. What is the point in that?
So I began writing an anger journal, as she suggested, which helped immensely. She recommended writing or typing it out…everything, very candidly, then putting it away for a day or two, going back and rereading it, then destroying it. By rereading it a couple days later when that initial anger has dissipated I’ve come to learn how over-exaggerated it is at times and how it also passes. This has really helped me to put some things into perspective. Like when I vent for half a page about how I hit a red light while running late one day, only to go back and read it a day later and laugh as I realize how little that moment really affected my life as a whole!
The other thing I learned about the way I think is that I often use very exaggerated phrases, and come to believe them wholeheartedly. For example, I would often say how unfair it was that I had to lose my child and everyone else in the world gets to watch their children grow up. (The key exaggeration in that phrase is: everyone else.) I mean really? EVERYONE else gets to watch their children grow up? A thought like that makes me feel alone, isolated, and very angry. Yet, when I take a step back and really think about it, I’m reminded that I’m not alone because there are millions of people in this world who have lost a child and sometimes more than one. So I have to remind myself to take a step back and really think about the lies that I’m telling myself and actually believing.
One of the terms my therapist uses is “ego.” Yes, a total psychology term. But, it is true that we all have one and it really is the devil on our shoulder. Our egos are not nice. It’s their job to make us miserable by all the self-talk and lies they feed us. Instead of the word “ego,” I like to use Satan because I truly believe that he is so darn real and out to get us. He would like nothing more than to slip in when I’m down and ruin my life by making me angry and miserable. So, now I make it my mission to tick him off by not giving into those negative thoughts.
Now again, this is still a major work in progress for me. (And probably always will be.) I was very skeptical at first about the power of thought and how it can change one’s life, but I was so desperate for some help that I decided to take whatever advice my therapist gave me to the full extent. I can now say that I am a true believer. My life and outlook on life has changed drastically in less than a month. It has taken a lot of effort (and prayer) on my part to stop allowing myself to go to the negative in thought because honestly, I’ve always been quite the pessimist, so those thoughts come very naturally for me and are a very strong, bad habit.
When I feel myself getting annoyed, angry, or depressed, I instantly stop and analyze what I’m thinking. What lies am I (or Satan) telling myself that I’m believing? I also try to think of the eternal perspective in all this. I remind myself that this life is so small compared to what is to come in the next life. These trials are not forever. They too shall pass, just as the trials I had as a teenager and young adult. And I know, through experience, that I will be a much better person for having survived them. I remember that Hailey is still very much alive in spirit and aware of me and around all the time. I think of all the things I have to be grateful for, still, even though she isn’t physically here with me. I thank God for the awesome miracles and blessings that have come since this happened. I look forward to tomorrow when I know that whatever little thing has me annoyed in the moment will be over and not matter anymore. The majority of the time, these thoughts are strong enough to snap me out of my funk and bring me back to reality and a feeling of peace. And when they’re not, I try to be patient with myself and remember that I am not perfect…I’m a grieving, pregnant mother just doing my best.
Anyways, I just wanted to share some of those thoughts and experiences with all of you. They have literally changed my life and way of thinking, not only regarding the loss of Hailey, but in everything that daily life has to offer me. Through prayer, I have been reminded that all these principles and skills my therapist has taught me are completely in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and everything He stands for. He is full of peace, comfort, joy, and especially hope. I pray that I will continue to remember these things I’ve learned when times are tough again and I’m feeling hopeless…if not, please remind me to reread this blog post!!!