This is the last full day here at the retreat in Imperial Beach. I have to say Sand Diego has been very kind to me. For now, the sky is the same as was when I came, gray and misty.
But overcast or not, each day a woman comes to sit on the rock pile on the beach and meditates until the sunrise is complete.
Currently, the winds are slightly cool. The waves are rolling in slowly. The surf is somewhat calm and the moment is mainly quiet. Soon enough the silvery mist will give way and the sky will return to its usual blue, which is beautiful to say the least. It will be warm and the sun will be kind to the skin. In full disclosure, this is not a bad way to get well.
The idea is to create a better wellness model, which I am grateful to be part of. This is not a typical treatment program of any kind. This is different.
We include neuroscience. There are therapists, medical doctors, treatment options, rest and relaxation, activities, massage, yoga, meditation, and a coach (that’s me) to help navigate away from stressors and steer towards an answer of permanent improvement.
I have been part of different treatment models before but this is not a treatment model. This is a wellness model. Big difference.
I have been writing to you about the thought machine and problematic thinking for a long time, in which, we often need to find a method to help navigate us away from certain thought patterns.
We need to learn how to find the right distraction and the right replacement method to keep us from nurturing our problematic thoughts.
And let’s face it, depression is a bitch. So anxiety. So is substance abuse and all other disorders that keep us from reaching out best self.
A short while back, I was listening to someone explain about their anxiety and situational problems. They suffered from panic attacks. Their doctor suggested to remove their stressors as if it were “Just” that simple.
But the thought machine is not always so simple. Plus, situational stressors can be constant.
So . . . for someone to say, “Just” remove your stressors “Just” doesn’t sound realistic to me. We need to learn how to do this and what to do instead.
I have come to the understanding in my own life that I cannot control or change the constant facts. For example, I cannot change that I am a divorced dad. I cannot change the way other people act, behave, or think. First and foremost, I learned that opinions vary so I cannot assume or expect others to think, feel, or react the same as me.
Also, I needed to learn that opinions are not fact. They are just opinion. I have mine. You have yours. And sometimes, never the twain shall meet. This is what I mean by “Constant.”
Life happens to everybody. Life has nothing to do with fair or unfair; it neither looks to support or oppose.
No, life happens. People pass away. Jobs don’t always work out. Relationships split. People are hurt and hurt people hurt us or others or maybe it is us that hurt other people and now, here we are, stuck with our consequences and trying hard to figure out, “Why dd this happen to me?” when meanwhile, we need to answer the deeper question, which is, :Why did I behave the way I did?”
The Constant never changes; however, whether we agree or like the constant facts of our life or not, we still have to show up each day and live.
I am firm believer in distraction and replacement. I needed to learn tools to help me navigate away from depressive thinking.
I learned breathing exercises to help calm me down when the anxiety machine was spinning out of control. I learned how to breathe in through my nose deeply until the count of seven. Then I paused for five seconds, exhaled for seven seconds, paused again for five, and repeated the process. I learned this from an admired colleague. He called it, “Seven, five, seven,” which was an easy way to remember the trick.
I had to learn how to replace thought with action. More importantly, I had to learn to do things for me. I cannot give in to codependency. I cannot give way to settlements or trades for a value which is less than what I deserve.
Life is give and take. We all understand this.
I cannot give more of me than I can afford. I cannot spread myself too thin. And since I cannot change the constant things in life then I must constantly take care of me first.
You might remember the time I wrote, “You are always going to be the square root to your own equation.”
You might also recall the time I mentioned the roots need to be the strongest part of the tree. If not, the tree falls and all things dependent upon the tree will fall as well. So always care for the roots, which leads me to what happens in this wellness model.
Above all things I have learned, I have learned that ideas and plans are important. Strategy is necessary to achieve them both but there has to be a working understanding of application. It has to be more than knowing what to do; it is more about knowing what to do and how and when to apply the knowledge that saves us from problematic thinking.
We need to know how, why, when, and where to apply our tools and skills. This is more than just coping skills. This is about living skills. Coping skills focus on symptoms. I don’t want to focus on symptoms. To me, it makes better sense to zero in on the problem. This way we can find a long-term solution.
I am no doctor or therapist. I do not diagnose or treat. I am a coach. My job is to get my client from point A to point B. We use motivational navigation techniques to seek which idea honors us best.
We learn to steer away from emotional or irrational thinking and make decisions with strategic and rational thought.
But wait . . .
What if depression is involved? What if there is PTSD or OCD? What if there are other disorders like Oppositional Defiance Disorder or Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria? What if there is a diagnosis of Bi-Polar or Borderline Personality Disorder?
What if motivational navigation is not as easy as it sounds? If this is the case, we might have the skill set but we might lose ourselves in the application process, which means we might not be able to carry out our plans due to an imbalance in our brain’s chemistry.
Getting back to this retreat; this is where neuroscience comes in. This is why we do a complete medical checkup. This is why we do a total blood work. This is why we include a medical doctor but keep in mind, while this happens, you are in a home on the beach, overlooking the Pacific, blocks away from the Doctor’s office with in-home therapy, spiritual activities, walks on the beach, good food, good company, and above all, a good way to heal and be well.
This is my last day here. I learned so much over the last few days. To be quite honest, I am humbled. But for now, the sky is clearing up and we have a few fun activities to tend to. Nobody ever said we can’t have fun while getting well. After all, isn’t that what wellness is all about?